Winnebago County Judge Gwyn Gulley is a role model outside of the courtroom

Stateline Strong

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — If you look at Winnebago County Judge Gwyn Gulley’s schedule, you likely won’t see a lot of free space, besides court dates and legal proceedings.

But it’s what she does outside of the courtroom that’s motivating so many people around her.

“As a young girl, I said, ‘I want to be a lawyer when I grow up,'” Gulley remembered. “That was the goal I set, my career choice. And I followed it.”

When Judge Gulley is off the bench, she’s sitting on community boards or in front of a classroom.

Before she was a judge, Gulley was a Guilford Viking, fueling her passion to become an attorney after graduating.

“I was active, so I think that kept me motivated,” she said.

That motivation pushed Gulley to make history as the first African American woman to become a 17th Circuit Court judge.

“It’s a humbling experience, because you think ‘Wow! That was not something I aspired to do,'” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘Well, now what? You’re a judge and this is what you wanted to do, and now you need to make a difference.'”

Judge Gulley says she’s inspired by a host of leaders, including President Barack Obama.

She proudly displayed a photo of her and the former president.

“A friend of mine was there, and this was in 2006, when I was thinking about running as a circuit judge, and one of my friends said, ‘She wants to be a judge.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘She looks judicious.’ So I asked if I could take a picture with him.”

Gulley says the photo meant a lot to her. Obama was elected as the first black president the same year Gulley made local history.

“Whatever I do, I give it my all and I make sure I do the right thing. That comes from the heart,” she said.

Judge Gulley is a finalist for the nationwide Nexstar Broadcasting 2020 Remarkable Woman award.

Nexstar Broadcasting owns WQRF-TV and provides management services to WTVO-TV.

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