Justice Cleo E. Powell has served on the Supreme Court of Virginia since 2011. She received her undergraduate degree, with distinction, from the University of Virginia and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court of Virginia, Justice Powell was a labor and employment law associate at Hunton & Williams from 1982-1986. She served as Senior Assistant Attorney General for the Equal Employment Opportunity and Personnel Section from 1986-1989 in the Office of the Virginia Attorney General. Justice Powell was Corporate Counsel for Virginia Power and Director of their Employee Services.
Justice Powell began her judicial career on the Chesterfield/Colonial Heights General District Court in 1993. She was appointed to the Chesterfield/Colonial Heights Circuit Court in 2000 and then to the Court of Appeals of Virginia in 2008.
Justice Powell is a recipient of numerous awards, including Virginia Women in History (2013); Strong Men & Women Excellence in Leadership (2011); Virginia Women Attorneys Association 2010 Leader in Diversity; Virginia Lawyers Weekly Influential Women of Virginia (2010); Metro Richmond Women’s Bar Association, Woman of the Year 2009; and the YWCA’s Outstanding Women of the Year (2001).
In 2011, Justice Powell began leading the Rule of Law Day at the Capital in conjunction with the Diversity Conference and the Young Lawyers Conference of the Virginia State Bar. The purpose of the program is to educate local middle and high school students about the rule of law principles and the operations of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. Held annually at the Virginia State Capital and the Virginia Supreme Court, approximately 300 students are engaged in a day of learning while discussing legal scenarios with attorneys, judges, and law enforcement officers.
Justice Powell chairs the Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee and serves on the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of Virginia. She has served on the Model Jury Instructions Committee, the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission, the Ad Hoc Committee for the Study of Canons of Judicial Conduct and the Law Revisions Committee. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at the William and Mary School of Law.