The Women’s Law Center of Maryland is turning to retired judge Katie Curran O’Malley to lead the nonprofit’s work in representing women in court and advocating for laws that protect and support women.

O’Malley, who retired after 20 years as a judge in Baltimore City District Court for an unsuccessful run for attorney general in 2022, said the position will give her an opportunity to have more of an influence in women’s issues in the state.

“I wanted to be more of an advocate, as opposed to as a judge, you’re not an advocate,” O’Malley told The Baltimore Banner. “I thought it would be a perfect blend of the experience I’ve had as a prosecutor and a jurist.”

O’Malley starts in her new role Jan. 16.

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For more than 50 years, the Women’s Law Center has represented women in cases involving domestic violence, custody and employment, with an annual caseload of more than 7,000 clients, O’Malley said.

The law center staff is also a regular presence in Annapolis, advocating for laws that promote the safety, economic security and autonomy of women. O’Malley said the center already has plans to monitor about 200 potential bills during the General Assembly session that begins next week.

The goal, O’Malley said, is to promote laws “to make sure it’s a safer and more just world for women and their families.”

O’Malley will succeed Michelle Daugherty Siri, who moved on to lead the Maryland Legal Services Corp., which funds civil legal aid programs.

O’Malley was the right choice, given her experience and passion for women’s rights, said Kelly Tribble Spencer, president of the law center’s board of directors.

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“This is an organization that has a history of dedicated changemakers, and exceptional leaders and we are thrilled to have Katie to continue that legacy,” she said in a statement.

O’Malley is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law who began her career as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore County. She was then a Baltimore City District Court judge for 20 years before retiring in 2021. As a judge, domestic violence was a significant part of her caseload, and she taught new Maryland judges and spoke to national judicial organizations about best practices for handling domestic violence cases.

While serving as a judge, she also was Maryland’s first lady when her husband, Martin O’Malley, was governor from 2007 through 2015.

Katie Curran O’Malley ran for Maryland attorney general in 2022, losing to current Attorney General Anthony Brown in the Democratic primary.