From Staff Reports…
Dawn Wiggins Hare, an Alabama state court judge recognized for her leadership in the Alabama-West Florida Conference, will be the next top executive of the UMC’s General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW).
“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the church in a mission that has been part of my personal ministry and work, both in the church and in the private sector,” Judge Hare said in a press release.
COSROW’S board elected Judge Hare to the position, effective Jan. 15. The commission, one of 13 general agencies of the United Methodist Church, advocates for full and equal participation of women in the total life of the church and promotes stronger policies to address ministerial sexual misconduct and sexual ethics.
“Dawn is an authentic leader with a passion for making a difference in the church and world,” said Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, COSROW’S board president. “Her ability to relate to persons from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life will serve her and the church well in her role as general secretary.”
Judge Hare was the first woman elected judge in the 35th Judicial Circuit in Monroeville, Ala., in 2006. She lost a re-election bid earlier this year and will finish her term on the bench in January.
Judge Hare has been a member of the First United Methodist Church in Monroeville since 1988. She was a delegate to General Conference in 2008 and 2012.
She also served as a delegate to the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference session the last 12 years and was a member of the conference’s local Commission on the Status and Role of Women.
In 2012, she was honored with that group’s Alice Lee Award for her service to the church and for her work breaking down barriers for women.
That award is named for a centenarian Monroeville lawyer who also is the older sister of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. (The town of Maycomb in the novel is based on Monroeville, where the Lee sisters grew up.)
Judge Hare chaired the task force that developed the Alabama-West Florida Conference’s policy on clergy sexual misconduct and served as a trainer of that policy in the conference.
She has served on the United Methodist General Board of Pension and Health Benefits since 2008, working on the appeals committee and serving as recording secretary.
At her local church, Judge Hare has taught Sunday school, sung alto in the chancel choir and served as lay leader and chair of the staff-parish relations committee.
Judge Hare earned bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Alabama. She was the first woman named partner in the Pensacola, Fla., law firm of Levin Papantonio and worked as an assistant district attorney in Monroe and Conecuh counties in Alabama.
More recently, she was a partner in the private law firm of Hare and Hare in Monroeville.
Judge Hare will be moving to Chicago, where the commission is based.
Susan Keaton, director of communications at the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, contributed.