JUDGE CHARLENE ELDER
Another misconception about Muslim women—that they are routinely housebound—is easily dispelled by example. In 2006, Charlene Elder, a Dearborn attorney, was appointed to the 3rd Circuit Court of Wayne County by Governor Jennifer Granholm, become the first Muslim woman to sit on any court in the country. Add to that her role as a mom—she’s raising Madina, Nozmi, Yasmine, and Adam along with husband Azzam Elder, Wayne County’s CEO—and you’ll find a woman who has found the magic formula to juggle callings to both a demanding profession and well-nurtured family.
“It’s not always easy,” she admits. “I couldn’t manage without the help and support of my own family network.”
Her success in both fronts is admired by her colleagues as well, as reflected in recent comments by Chief Judge Mary Beth Kelly. “Judge Elder has a deep presence about her and a peaceful serenity that obviously comes from her faith, and as a devout mother and wife she genuinely embodies all the values that we all hold so dearly.”
A 1995 graduate of the Detroit College of Law, Judge Elder spent her academic career on the high track. She was named to the Dean’s List, completed a federal judicial internship and worked as an account specialist for Baskerville & Co. Accountants while earning dual degrees in English and psychology from the University of Michigan Dearborn.
She’s been referred to, by Judge Mark W. Somers, as ‘pure Dearborn,’ but as her influence has become national, it’s clear that her aspirations, both inward and outward, reach far beyond.