For a woman who is so tied to her own Greek family, it was only natural that she wanted others in need to have the same feelings of support and love. Longtime family court attorney Emily Digenis is involved in many local boards, most of them with a common thread of advocating for those less fortunate. Last year, she decided to take her advocacy a step further by running for Family Court Judge for Jefferson County. Though it was her maiden voyage into politics, she immediately loved getting out in the community and meeting people. She’s full of energy and is not intimidated by the possible future of this job, which involves 2,100 cases annually per judge. Meet our FACE of Louisville today, Emily Digenis.
You are running for Jefferson County Family Court Judge in November. Tell us about this position and what it entails.
Family Court Judges deal with some of the most tragic issues families can face: child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, termination of parental rights, divorce — just to name a few. The responsibilities of a judge require an individual with sincere concerns for the welfare of children, as well as the ability to understand the complexities of families in transition. We need judges who have integrity, competence, compassion and honed organizational skills to handle the enormous volume of cases (approximately 2,100 cases annually per family court judge).
Have you ever run for office before? Was it what you expected?
This is my first foray into politics, so I didn’t know what to expect. Honestly, I believe that running for public office is a privilege. I knew it would take a lot of time and great effort, and I dedicated myself to it because of my desire to serve my community. I have endeavored to run a well-orchestrated campaign in order to show my determination and earn the community’s trust and confidence in me. You’ll see me all over town, because I believe in listening to the public to gain insight and inspiration for this office.
Other than your career, what else occupies your time and energy?
I’m a mother, wife and member of a large Greek family (yes, they live next door), so fulfilling those needs are vitally important to me. But, I balance those family needs with the desire to be involved in our community. I volunteer as an advocate for the Center for Women and Families, Home of the Innocents, Family Scholar House and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). I am active in my church and serve on a variety of boards such as the Speed Museum, KMAC (Kentucky Museum of Arts & Crafts), MOSAIC Awards (Jewish Family & Career Services), GLOW (Greater Louisville of Outstanding Women) and CASA.
What is the most challenging part of your community involvement? The most rewarding?
It can sometimes be a struggle to compartmentalize the tragic stories of abuse and violence, because they are life-altering. But I know that someone has to do this. Someone has to feel compelled enough to want to help these individuals, families and children through the difficult times. As an advocate, it’s my goal to listen, understand the situation and help to create the best outcome for all involved. It’s rewarding to assist people in finding a path to hope, self-sufficiency and empowerment. It’s also very humbling to realize your actions can and do impact someone’s life inextricably.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
Probably organizing tours to Greece — sharing my culture, food and country would be fantastic! So why am I not doing that? Because our community needs help. We need to build bridges, create better relationships and bring peace and hope to our families in need.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
That I don’t mind going to the movies by myself, but hate to eat alone. I don’t much care for birds, except hummingbirds, and cracking one’s knuckles drives me crazy.
What are three words that describe you?
Hard-working, determined and friendly
What advice do you treasure?
My parents are Greek immigrants, and “service above self” was always a common motto in our home growing up. They instilled in us a desire to make an impactful difference in our community — to leave the world a bit better than how we found it.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ___________.
Currently, you’ll never see me without my campaign button. Seriously, I wear it everywhere — even to church! I am serious about this position. I want people to know that I care and am willing to step up and spread the word about my campaign. I know that’s the way to get things done!
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
As I’m running for judge, I’m literally going from one end of town to the next. So, the real question should be where can you not find me?! When I do have some downtime, I like to binge-watch a Netflix series or read a book.
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Volunteering within meaningful organizations that usually don’t have enough funding but seem to perform gigantic services. I am enjoying the opportunity to meet the most extraordinary people on the campaign trail. Then, rounding the day out is a great night with family and friends at one of our fantastic restaurants in town.
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
That’s impossible as it depends on my mood. The good news is we have some of the country’s best restaurants right here in Louisville. And if all else fails, I walk next door to the best Greek restaurant in town — my mom’s kitchen.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
What are three of your favorite things right now?
A cup of hot tea with honey, my reading glasses and Chapstick — the essentials for nonstop campaigning.
Thank you to Adele Reding of Adele Reding Photography for the beautiful pictures of Emily.
To be inspired by other great Louisville women, check out our other FACES of Louisville here.