Campbell Law 45th Anniversary Spotlight: Donna Stroud ’88

Photo of Donna Stroud '88

Nominee: Donna Stroud, Class of 1988

Donna Stroud ’88 was elected to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 2006.  Stroud was re-elected in 2014, when she ran without opposition, becoming the first woman in North Carolina to be elected to a statewide office without opposition.  Stroud became chief judge of the Court in January 2021.  Stroud is the first Campbell Law School graduate to serve as the chief judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  Stroud also teaches as an adjunct law professor at Campbell Law School.

A Kinston native, Stroud graduated summa cum laude from Campbell University in 1985 and magna cum laude from Campbell Law School in 1988. She earned her L.L.M. from Duke University School of Law in 2014.  In 1988, Stroud began working for Kirk, Gay, Kirk, Gwynn & Howell.  Stroud went on to become a founding partner at Gay, Stroud, and Jackson LLP in 1995. She also served as an arbitrator for the 10th Judicial District Court and as a superior court mediator. In 2004, she was elected as a district court judge to the Wake County District Court 10th Judicial District, where she served as a Family Court judge.

Stroud is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, Wake County Bar Association, the American Bar Association (Judicial Division), the Craven-Everett Inn of Court, the Federalist Society and the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys.  Stroud also serves as a member of the North Carolina Courts Commission and the Family Court Advisory Commission, the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism and as Chair of the Chief Justice’s Rules Advisory Commission.  She also serves on various committees, including the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA)’s Appellate Rules Committee and Women in the Profession Committee. Stroud frequently presents at CLE and CJE events for various organizations. Stroud is also a recipient of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of N.C. Women of Achievement Award.

Nominator:  Danyelle Edwards, Class of 2007

Edwards graduated with honors in 2007 from Campbell Law School, having earned her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, in 2003.  Upon graduating and passing the bar exam, Edwards became a law clerk for Judge Donna Stroud at the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  Judge Stroud became Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals in 2021, and Edwards continues to work as her law clerk.

How does your nominee embody your definition of leading with purpose?

At every step of Chief Judge Stroud’s career, she has thoughtfully considered how to better help the people of North Carolina.  Upon graduation from law school, she entered a general law practice and enjoyed helping people with a wide variety of legal problems.  After 16 years in practice, she felt a calling to serve as a judge and was elected to the bench as a District Court judge.  Serving as an impartial and fair jurist, Judge Stroud has endeavored to apply the law faithfully, while always remaining aware of the effect of rulings on the lives of those involved in each case and the procedural hurdles that may hinder individuals from receiving justice.

She has used her broad legal and judicial experience in her service as a member of various committees working to improve the operation of the courts and access to justice, such as the Chief Justice’s Rules Advisory Commission which is currently assisting with rule revisions needed for North Carolina’s implementation of electronic filing and access to court records statewide. Chief Judge Stroud continues to seek ways to improve access to the court system, such as helping in the creation of a program for pro bono representation before the appellate courts in civil cases.  Chief Judge Stroud’s thoughtful and active approach has been especially vital this year, as North Carolina courts navigate a pandemic and innovative technological methods of access to our legal system have been crucial.  Chief Judge Stroud also continues to educate by not only teaching at Campbell Law School but in presenting continuing educations programs for both attorneys and judges.  I have had the great honor of getting to know her personally during my many years of service with her, and I am continually impressed that no matter how many achievements she has had or accolades she receives, she remains kind, generous, and engaged with the needs of everyday people around her, whether by dressing as a Christmas elf to deliver presents to children in need or spearheading a project to build new infrastructure in a home for an individual who lost mobility and was confined to a wheelchair.

As her colleague Judge Tobias Hampson ’02 stated, “Throughout her career, Chief Judge Stroud has embodied what it means to lead with purpose.  Whether in private practice in Zebulon, or serving Wake County as a District Court Judge, as an appellate judge, and now, as the Chief Judge of the N.C. Court of Appeals, Judge Stroud has not just taken on the mantle of leadership roles but has consistently used the opportunity granted by leadership positions to make a difference in the courtroom, the community, and for our state.”

In every area of her life, Judge Stroud leads by being present and aware of the people around her and the broader citizenry as a whole and taking proactive steps to improve their access to justice and their lives.

Want to nominate a Campbell Law Alumna/Alumnus to be featured in a 45th anniversary spotlight?

If you would like to nominate a fellow alumna/alumnus who is living the university’s motto “leading with purpose,” please contact Reagan Warren at for more information.

Orange circle with law school photo background and a large white "45" and the words Campbell Law School 45 years of making great lawyers



Reagan Warren '20

This article is related to: