Donna Stroud BA ’85, JD ’88 sworn in as Chief Judge of the N. C. Court of Appeals

Photo of Chief Court of Appeals Judge Donna Stroud '85, '88 sitting at her desk.

RALEIGH – Campbell Law School adjunct professor and alumna Donna Stroud became the chief judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. When she took the oath of office, administered by N. C. Chief Justice Paul Newby, Chief Judge Stroud took hold of the highest judicial office of the Court of Appeals, which is the second highest court in the state, behind the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

Photo of Chief Judge Donna Stroud (left) stands with her husband, J. Wilson Stroud, while Chief Justice Paul Newby administers her oath of office.
Chief Judge Donna Stroud (left) stands with her husband, J. Wilson Stroud, while Chief Justice Paul Newby administers her oath of office. (Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Judicial Branch)


“Serving the people of North Carolina on the Court of Appeals is a great honor and responsibility, and this new role is an amazing opportunity,” said Chief Judge Stroud in a news release issued by the court. “I take my oath of office seriously and with grave respect to the duties now entrusted to me, and I look forward to continuing to serve this great state.”

The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Carteret County Courthouse, where Chief Justice Newby also administered the oath of office to new and returning district and superior court judges in that area. Chief Judge Stroud replaces Linda McGee, who retired on Dec. 31, 2020, after serving as chief judge since 2014.

Before taking her oath of office, Chief Judge Stroud was the senior member of the Court of Appeals. She was elected to the Court in 2006 and re-elected without opposition in 2014. She has been teaching as an adjunct at the law school since 2008. Prior to joining the Court of Appeals, she served as family court judge while on the district court in Wake County (10th Judicial District), where she was elected in 2004. She practiced law as an associate and later as a partner with Kirk, Gay, Kirk, Gwynn & Howell in Wendell from 1988 until 1995. She then became a founding partner of Gay, Stroud & Jackson, LLP, where she continued to practice until her election as a district court judge. While in private practice, Judge Stroud was also a certified superior court mediator and a district court arbitrator.

Chief Judge Stroud is a 2014 recipient of the General Federation of Women’s Club of North Carolina’s Women of Achievement Award. She serves as Chair of the Chief Justice’s Rules Advisory Commission which is currently working on implementation of electronic filing in all North Carolina courts by recommending revisions to rules and statutes necessary for the transition to e-filing. She is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Appellate Rules Committee as well as the Women in the Profession Committee. Chief Judge Stroud is also a member of the North Carolina Courts Commission, American Bar Association (Judicial Division), North Carolina Bar Association, Wake County Bar Association, 10th Judicial District Bar Association (Wake County)  and the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. She also served on former Gov. Pat McCrory’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use.

A native of Kinston, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Campbell University in 1985 and a Campbell Law degree in 1988. During law school, she was a member of the Campbell Law Review, a case summary writer for the Campbell Law Observer, a research assistant for Dean F. Leary Davis and Professor Thomas Anderson, and received the Branch Banking and Trust Estate Planning Award. Judge Stroud has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumna both of Campbell University and of its History, Criminal Justice and Political Science Department. She earned an LLM in Judicial Studies from the Duke University School of Law in 2014.

She is married to J. Wilson Stroud and has two sons, Aaron and Isaac. She is a member of The Shepherd’s Church, formerly known as Colonial Baptist Church, in Cary, North Carolina.

Photo of Chief Judge Stroud giving the oath to the Class of '23 at Campbell Law School in August during Campbell Law Advantage.
Chief Judge Stroud giving the oath to the Class of ’23 at Campbell Law School in August during Campbell Law Advantage.



Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,200 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2021, Campbell Law is celebrating 45 years of graduating legal leaders and a dozen years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.