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Debra Todd, first woman state Chief Justice, sworn in Friday

Pennsylvania state Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd leads member of the court to Josh Shapiro's inauguration as Pennsylvania's 48th governor, Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg. Todd, who has been leading the high court since former Chief Justice Max Baer died late last year, was formally installed in a ceremony in Pittsburgh on Friday, Jan. 20. She is the first woman to serve as the court's chief justice. Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News via AP

Ellwood City native and former resident of Cranberry Township Debra Todd formally assumed the role as Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a swearing-in ceremony Friday in Pittsburgh, becoming the first woman Chief Justice in the 300-year history of the court.

Todd has been a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court since she was elected in 2007, making her the judge with the longest continuous service on the court. On Oct. 1, the former Cranberry Township resident was appointed Chief Justice of the court, the day Chief Justice Max Baer died at age 74.

While she has been fulfilling the duties of the role since October, Todd was formally sworn in Friday, and commented that she could not have made it to the position without the many trailblazing women who came before her.

“It means the world to me to take the oath like so many distinguished jurists before me, while forging new ground for women and reaffirming my commitment to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and of this commonwealth,” Todd said. “My path to this point has been guided by a belief which was instilled in me at an early age — that with hard work and dedication, little girls could achieve anything.”

The daughter of a steelworker and homemaker, Todd was born and raised in Ellwood City, Lawrence County, and developed a dream of becoming a lawyer at an early age after working as a filing clerk for a local private attorney. Reflecting on the earliest days of her career, Todd recalled being fascinated by the legal process and inspired when her employer encouraged her to become a lawyer.

Todd would go on to attend then Chatham College, earning her undergraduate degree with honors in political science and theater, moving on to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she was a member of the Law Review. She later finally earned her LLM degree in the Judicial Process from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Related Article: Debra Todd, first woman state Chief Justice, sworn in Friday

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