At its summer meeting in July 2022, the Sweet Briar Board of Directors voted to add Verda Colvin ’87 to its membership.
If you didn’t know Judge Verda Colvin ’87 before March 29, 2016, you probably know her now — thanks to a viral video showing her lecture a group of troubled youth. As superior court judge in Macon-Bibb County, Ga., Verda had exclusive jurisdiction over felony cases, divorce, land and equity cases. “No one day is ever the same,” she says. “It is said that we are the busiest trial courts in our nation.”
Verda’s career started at a civil rights law firm, but she found her true calling where she never expected it — as a prosecutor. “I enjoyed being a litigator — engaging in bench and jury trials,” she tells us. From there, Verda went to work briefly as assistant general counsel for Clark-Atlanta University.
“I honed my moral compass there,” she says. Her next step: assistant district attorney in Clayton County, Ga. “I learned that my role as a prosecutor was life-changing, as I could ensure that people were treated fairly as I controlled prosecutions,” she explains. “It was rewarding to ‘do the right thing’ even in a role that people readily assume is antagonistic to someone who finds him or herself in the criminal justice system.”
It is a good thing for Verda—and for Sweet Briar—that she stopped by the College’s table at a fair in College Park, Ga., some 36 years ago. She double-majored in government and religion and held a variety of leadership positions, including as a resident advisor and a member of several student organizations.
What drew her to Sweet Briar in particular? “I wanted to attend a secondary institution that would be concerned about me, as a person, and my development as an intellectual,” she says. “I wanted an environment that would care about me.” And she got it. “Sweet Briar molded me into the woman I am today,” Verda says. “I learned to love myself at Sweet Briar and value all that I had to offer the world. There can be no greater joy than to choose an institution that empowers you on a personal level to be your best self. Sweet Briar did that for me.” And it did something else.
“Sweet Briar left me with a keen sense that my success was a necessity,”she adds. “Not just for myself, but for the world at large. I left Sweet Briar with a tenacious desire to do something, to matter, to fulfill my destiny — whatever that was to be. I knew that success was not optional, but expected. That has been the guiding quest since becoming an alumna of Sweet Briar.”
And her career is a testament to it. “Leaders DO,” Verda says. “Leaders are those who seek the highest good, who demand the best and give the same to others. They don’t ask that others follow their example but instead, others follow them because of their admiration and recognition that this leader is who they’d like to be.”
Verda was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court on July 20, 2021, by Governor Brian Kemp.