On the heels of a super-successful, if not a bit soggy, salute to Sweden, meet today’s FACE of Memphis, Justice Janice Holder. She sits on many boards including that of Memphis in May and she is the state’s first female to have served as a chief justice. Janice is a multi-faceted woman who transitions effortlessly from work to play and is a force to be reckoned with on the karate mat. We are proud to introduce you to this true Memphis gem.
Where did you grow up? If not Memphis, what brought you here?
I was born and raised near McDonald, Pennsylvania, a small town in the southwest corner of the state. I left Pennsylvania to escape the winters. I like Memphis weather, even the summers, because we have a change of seasons but the weather is usually mild. I stay because I love the city and love the people who live here. Memphis is a place where ideas are welcomed and new residents are embraced.
Can you get friends out of their traffic tickets? (Only kidding!)
No, but I’m often asked.
You work (successfully) in a very male-dominated field. Any advice for our female readers who have aspirations in similar fields?
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
No matter what task you are performing and regardless of its apparent significance, do it to the best of your ability.
Can you tell us about a current issue facing our state Supreme Court that might impact us directly?
One of the current issues facing the judiciary is the effort of the judicial branch to remain free of the partisanship that is seen in the other branches of government. We are asked to use our best judgment in applying the law as it currently exists or in interpreting law that is unclear. Judges are much like referees. If someone appears before a judge or a panel of judges, the expectation is that the playing field is level, not tipped toward one person before the judge hears the case.
What inspires you?
On a professional level, observing law students inspires me. I am impressed with their enthusiasm and dedication to the legal profession, even as first-year students. They volunteer their time at pro-bono clinics and are great role models for us! Volunteers who donate their time and energy to improving the lives of others are also my personal inspiration.
You are such a valuable asset to the Memphis community serving on many boards, volunteering and lending your time and talent. On the heels of Memphis in May, can you tell us a little about your role as a board member?
I am a new board member and excited about my role. I volunteer my time for several shifts at the Memphis in May Barbecue Festival and attend as many events as possible. I appreciate the opportunity given me to contribute to the Memphis community in this way.
Each year the announcement of the country our city salutes during the month of May is always greatly anticipated. Just how far in advance do you begin working to determine which country will be saluted?
How do you decompress?
I participate in karate classes and assist in teaching karate when I can. The highlight of my week is teaching children. One of my favorite places to decompress is watching the sunset on my rooftop deck.
What are your guilty pleasures and/or special indulgences?
This will sound odd, but I love to read or listen to audio books that don’t require analytical thought.
Where do you take your out of town friends/family when they come to visit you in Memphis?
This year, I took my cousin from Pennsylvania to the Beale Street Music Festival. I love everything downtown, including the Belz Museum in Pembroke Square, the National Civil Rights Museum and the Rock and Soul Museum. Graceland, of course, is on everyone’s list, and the Stax Museum is incredible. The Metal Museum is wonderful, and its views of the river are spectacular. And even if we don’t have time to ride, I like to brag about the new bike lanes and the Greenline. Memphis has so many interesting places that I’m never at a loss about entertaining visitors.
Do you have a favorite travel destination?
What books can be found by your bedside or on your tablet?
I usually have something educational (right now, The Sultana by Jerry Potter), something related to martial arts and a mystery novel.
What are three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God)?
A purpose, a plan and karate.
Thank you for your inspirational advice and leadership, Janice!