Although Hope E. Whitehead took her official oath as St. Louis County Circuit Court’s first African-American judicial administrator at the courthouse in Clayton, she wanted the opportunity to show children at her church, Restoration House Community Church in Hazelwood, that with hard work and education they can accomplish big things. So she had Judge Gloria C. Reno, the court’s first African-American presiding judge, administered the oath at an informal ceremony at the church as well.
“This was a great day for our church” said Pastor Frederick Joseph McCullough. “Our children need to see positive role models with people of faith who accomplish their dreams. I am so glad Attorney Whitehead and Judge Reno gave us this memory.”
With 43 judges and nearly 400 employees, the 21st Judicial Circuit is the largest circuit in Missouri, serving nearly one million residents of St. Louis County.
“St. Louis County has an amazing group of judges with great ideas for the court and the diverse community we serve,” Whitehead said. “I look forward to using the resources and tools at my disposal to allow our judges and employees to do their job better. My priorities are increasing access to justice, while promoting efficiency, consistency and transparency.”
As attorney and former state representative, Whitehead received her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Fordham University in New York in 1981 and was employed as a social worker until 1988. In 1990, she received a juris doctorate from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and immediately became a prosecutor for the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office.
Whitehead left the Circuit Attorney’s Office to enforce housing regulations as the associate general counsel for the St. Louis Housing Authority. In 1997, she was appointed by Governor Mel Carnahan to be the state supervisor for the Division of Liquor Control. Whitehead has the unique distinction of being appointed by four different governors to positions in their administration.
From 2001 to 2005, Whitehead served as a legal advisor for the Division of Workers’ Compensation. She was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, District 57, in a special election in February 2010 and represented part of St. Louis city.
Whitehead has served on the board of the following organizations: Washington University School of Law Community Advisory Board, Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic Affairs; Missouri Lawyers Trust Foundation; Land Reutilization Authority for the City of St. Louis; Missouri Real Estate Appraisal Commission and The Empowerment Network (TEN) for prostate cancer advocacy.
She also was a coordinator with the Washington University School of Law mentoring program and has served as an annual lecturer for the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life. Whitehead is a past president of the Mound City Bar Association, Missouri's oldest African-American lawyers association. She is a former member of The Missouri Bar Board of Governors Women's Political Caucus and the Women Lawyers Association.
Prior to her appointment at St. Louis County Circuit Court, Whitehead was in private practice at the firm she founded, Whitehead & Associates, LLC. She lives with her husband and two sons in St. Louis.