Road to the Bench Academy - (Class of 2023)

Application deadline January 27, 2023

Are you interested in becoming a judge? Join the Palm Beach County Bar Association in our new Road to the Bench Academy. The Academy is a non-partisan training and mentorship program to encourage diversity on the bench. Whether you’re ready to seek a judicial seat today or in the future, the Academy aims to prepare you. Participants will receive training, courses on various topics related to the appointment and election process to become a judge. 

All applications must be received on or before January 27, 2023, by 5:00 p.m. (EST). Applicants must include the following required documents along with your application: Professional Resume and Current Professional Headshot (High resolution in JPEG). The participation fee for the Academy is $100 for private practice attorneys and $50 for public interest/government attorneys. Two program participation scholarships will be awarded to applicants who have financial need in order to participate in the Academy. 

Please submit completed applications to Carla Tharp Brown, Executive Director, at CTBrown@palmbeachbar.org.


  1. Diversity and Branding – Have a Plan. Build a Brand
    February 7, 2023 | 5:30 P.M. – 7:30 P.M. | Bar Office (In-Person)
  • Academy kick-off session.  A brief overview of the purpose of the program, introductions, and general qualifications to become a judge. The session will also focus on outreach, networking, and the importance of having a bench that reflects the community served.
  • Confirmed Speakers: Manuel Farach, Gary Lesser, Victoria Mesa-Estrada, Michelle Suskauer, Lawonda Warren
  1. Elements of an Effective and Successful JNC Application
    February 21, 2023 | 6:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. | Live via Zoom
  • Overview of the JNC process and discussion on the nuts and bolts of the JNC application.
  • Confirmed Speakers: Robert Harvey, Gordon Dieterle, Judge Lauren Godden-Burke, Judge Melanie Surber
  1. Getting Ready to Run a Judicial Campaign
    February 28, 2023 | 6:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. | Live via Zoom
  • Helpful tips and pointers on how to adequately prepare for a JNC interview, interview with the Governor’s office, candidate forums, and interviews to secure endorsements.
  • Confirmed Speakers: Judge Caryn Siperstein, Kim LeBove, Rick Asnani, Richard Giorgio, Francine Nelson, Judge Maxine Cheesman, Judge Sarah Willis, Judge Samantha Schosberg-Feuer, Judge Caryn Siperstein, Judge George Odom, Jr.

4. Interviewing 101
    March 7, 2023 | 6:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. | Live via Zoom

  • Discussion on the key elements to run for the judiciary, including advertising and finances, and how to put together your team. 
  • Confirmed Speakers: Judge April Bristow, Mariano Garcia, Davicka Thompson, Greg Schwinghammer

5. Behind the Black Robe: The Realities of Being a Judge
    March 14, 2023 | 6:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. | Live via Zoom

  • A candid discussion of what it really means to be a member of the judiciary and all the duties and responsibilities that come with the position.
  • Confirmed Speakers: Sia Baker-Barnes, Judge John Parnofiello, Judge Laura Burkhart, Judge Cymonie Rowe, and Judge Luis Delgado, Jr.


March 29th, 2023
11:45 A.M. – 1:30 P.M.
Bar Office (In-Person)

Keynote Speaker
Judge Bradley Harper

RSVP by March 27th, 2023 to JBrander@palmbeachbar.org

  • Danielle Sherriff, Sub-Committee Chair
  • Schnelle Tonge, Sub-Committee Chair