Nina Ashenafi Richardson Becomes First Elected Ethiopian-American Judge

Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson received the oath of office from Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court Peggy A. Quince on on Friday, January 30, 2009. (Photo: Tallahassee Democrat)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 16, 2009

New York (TADIAS) – Nina Ashenafi Richardson, an Ethiopian-American judge, who was elected to the Leon County bench in Florida on November 4th, 2008, is hard at work in the Sunshine State’s capital county.

She recently told the Tallahassee Democrat that although her workload is heavy, she is mindful of the responsibilities and privileges of her new position.

“At the county court level it’s a lot of volume, and you have to make sure you keep up with it,” she said of the plethora of criminal and civil cases that she now presides over. “I love it. Every time I come into the courthouse I continue to feel so privileged and honored to be here.”

Born in Ethiopia, Nina came to the U.S. as a young girl and was raised by her late father Professor Ashenafi Kebede, the renowned Ethiopian composer and musicologist, who was the Founder and first Director of the National Saint Yared School of Music in Ethiopia. In the United States, he taught Ethnomusicology and served as the Director of the Center for African-American Culture at Florida State University, where his daughter later earned her law degree. He was also the Director of the Ethiopian Research Council, comprised of Ethiopian and American academics and professionals, which was founded by African American scholar Leo Hansberry.

Judge Nina, a mother of two, who is married to former State Legislator Curtis Richardson, was also the the first African-American woman to head the Tallahassee Bar Association and the first African-American to lead the Tallahassee Women Lawyers (TWL).

Tadias congratulates Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson on her accomplishments!

Judge Ashenafi Richardson was ceremonially assisted into her judicial robes by her husband Curtis B. Richardson, and daughters on Friday, January 30, 2009. ((Photo: Tallahassee Democrat)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

95 Responses to “Nina Ashenafi Richardson Becomes First Elected Ethiopian-American Judge”

  1. 1 Gemtuzumab ozogamycin Mar 16th, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Big ups for this sister. Congratulations!!!!!!

  2. 2 Engeda Mar 16th, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Her father was a truly gifted person and his daughters are his legacy. Congratulations and your election announces to the Diaspora and beyond that Ethiopian Americans have arrived, they are here to stay and they are part and parcel of the American fabric. This is a wonderful news.

    Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson, my deep respect to you and good luck!

  3. 3 Yoftahe Nigusse Mar 16th, 2009 at 4:59 am

    An exciting time for all of us, Ethiopians both at home and abroad, for we witnessed Nina as the first Ethiopian American judge. We already have Obama as the first African-American U.S president. Subsequent developments have also demonstrated the addition of a number of African-American new officials in the new administration.

    I know the story of professor Ashenafi from a compilation I made along with a friend musician a few years ago. At a time when I am waiting for the publication of my co-produced voluminous work it is indeed pleasant to hear such a good news. On behalf of my family, I wish judge Nina a very successful career on the Bench.

  4. 4 teddy Mar 16th, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Congratulations!!!! This has to be the beginning of the Road, and of course it is. We all are proud of you.

    The father was outstandingly great, and the daughter became the same as the father. We expect the same from Nina Ashenafi’s daughters. It will not be a big surprise if they become the next Barak Obama.

  5. 5 Ewnwtu Tayw Mar 16th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    What a great accomplishment dear sister. You are such a great role model for our beloved sisters and little daughters. Hope we all tell our kids judge Nina’s story. Only the sky is the limit.

    Congratulations Nina and the family, congratulations Ethiopian Americans.


  6. 6 joee Mar 16th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I am very proud like other Ethiopians. She is someone with authority and style that people can look up to. It is a new way of looking in the 21st century. Keep it up sis. May god bless u and ur family.

    This is another big step in our life time.


    From Germany

  7. 7 Get Af. Mar 16th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Dear Nina Ashenafi,

    Congratulations, you are one of the women and men of Ethiopian origin who could make us feel happy and proud. Keep on moving, I hope you will be able to reach still a better position in that free society.

    My best regards,

  8. 8 Kwame Mar 16th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Congratulations Judge Richardson from a fellow Floridian and African immigrant. You are an inspiration not only to Africans, but also to women everywhere. Keep on doing what you’re doing my sis. I can just imagine your father smiling in heaven. I enjoyed reading about him as well. Even though I am from the the West Coast of Africa and you were born in Ethiopia, which is located on the East Coast of Africa, your father reminds me of my own father, who is also a scholar and professor. The similarity lies in their quiet yet dignified face.

    Your Honor, once again most deserved congratulations and good luck!


  9. 9 Berhanu Mar 16th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Congratulations Judge Richardson. I am proud of you. This is a good news for immigrants.

  10. 10 Markos Mulugeta Mar 16th, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Dear Nina Ashenafi Richardson:

    Congratulations for becoming the first judge in the first Ethiopian-American generation and wish you great success in your judicial role. Your dad was an inspiring choir instructor in which I participated as a student in Teferi Mekonnen H/S. He was a man of excellence, a consummate intellectual and a highly dedicated musician. I am happy to see, but not surprised, for him to have raised such a successful daughter who made a breakthrough just like he did. He was one and only and it appears that you are a rare and a precious a legacy who inspires our sisters and daughters. May god be with you as you serve those who come for justice.

  11. 11 Dorowet Mar 16th, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Congratulations! She is a good example for our sisters! God bless you.

  12. 12 Alemayehu Mar 17th, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Congratulation your honor!, you are noble pride not only for your husband, daughters and the whole other family, but also for the entire hard working black girls and women in the world, especially for those who have big dreams like you and struggle with school work and other jobs tirelessly to advance. My daughter, who came from Ethiopia 2yr’s ago has got a great role model and thank you for being that person.

  13. 13 Boresa Mar 17th, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Congratulations Sister! Great achievement Nina. We are proud of you and this should be encouraging for all of us in Diaspora.

  14. 14 mesfin ( from jeddah) Mar 17th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Dear NinA Ashenafi

    Congratulation you are good example of habesha.

    God bless you.

  15. 15 Traci Mar 17th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Yeah…. I am from New Orleans, La, and I love Ethiopian people, they are some of the nicest people in the World.

  16. 16 Ayele Berhane Mar 17th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I am not surprised at all, the daughter of Ashenafi Kebede became a judge. Being Ashenafi’s daughter, it will not be surprising if she makes it to the Supreme Court. He was a genius. Follow his path.

  17. 17 worku Mar 17th, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    I am so proud of you judge ashenafi do a very good job and god be with you.

  18. 18 Abeme Mar 17th, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Dear Nina, I am proud of you. I hope this will inspire a lot of people around the world. This gives a good message for all immigrant that everything is possible. I wish you success in your office and keep up the good job.

  19. 19 Genet Mar 17th, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Dear Nina,

    Like so many Ethiopians here in USA, I would like to say ENEQUAN DES ALISH ! You are indeed a great role model to so many Ethiopians ! Keep the hard Work and wish you the best of luck !

  20. 20 temelkach Mar 17th, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    congrat!!!! justices for all!!

  21. 21 *Mefti* Mar 18th, 2009 at 12:43 am

    I am very proud and happy to hear such a great news!

    Wishing you all the best!! CHEERS!!

  22. 22 Dev Mar 18th, 2009 at 12:46 am

    We continue to make history & re-write the pages they have stolen from our legacy. Thank you Nina Ashenafi Richardson for helping to push forward our dreams and goals to yet another level of excellence. May God continue to bless you & your entire family and may you deliver justice at it’s highest degree with regal grace.

  23. 23 Michael Tesfaye Mar 18th, 2009 at 12:52 am


  24. 24 Shewit Mar 18th, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Congradulations judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson, all of us here in Ethiopia are so proud of you. I would have liked to say a lot about your dad too, but this is your achievement and the limelight is all yours!

    Way to go sister!!!

  25. 25 Jah Youth Mar 18th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Rastafari goodness and mercy be with us!

  26. 26 Gofere Mar 18th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    From Down Under, Melbourne Australia. I congratulate you and may God bless you and your family for the remarkable achievement.

  27. 27 Azzyras Mar 18th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Way to go your Honor! You makes proud.

    -Signing out from MD.

  28. 28 Eb Kassa Mar 18th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Congratulation Nina Asenafi! I am proud as an Ethiopian to see a female judge in the court of United States of America.

  29. 29 Nunu Mar 18th, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Congrats to Nina and to the start of a new beginning to Ethiopian-Americans. I hope that many others take this new road and thrive; may it be God’s wil.




  30. 30 Biniyam Mar 19th, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Dear Judge Nina A. Richardson,

    Your achievement is such a monumental inspiration for many strong goal-oiented beautiful Ethiopian women. You made all the sisters proud of you. With all due respect, I would like to congratulate you as you begin your new chapter of life, The Honorable Judge Nina Ashenaffi Richardson. Indeed you win, (ASHENEFISH) through persistence and determination. Once again, you underlined remarkably the undenaiable beauty, strenght and power of Ethiopian Women.

  31. 31 Brucktayet W/M Mar 19th, 2009 at 2:17 am

    Congratulation Nina Asenafi! I am proud of you.

  32. 32 Elsa ms. Mar 19th, 2009 at 6:26 am

    Congratulations your honor.You are great and you are an inspiration for all of us females in Ethiopia.I am sure this is not the end of the road for you and you will wake us up with some more news again.

  33. 33 Liz Medhin (ELSA M.) Mar 19th, 2009 at 6:47 am

    This is beautiful to hear! Congratulations!!! You make us all proud!!! :) :) :)

  34. 34 kidist kebede Mar 19th, 2009 at 7:03 am


    You are good example to all women.

    keep in touch

  35. 35 Selam Mar 19th, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Wow Nina, you really changed our profile to higher level. Thanks girl! Let God gives you the Grace in all your doings.

    Congra to Ethiopians all over!
    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

  36. 36 Solomon Mar 19th, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Congratulation and may God blees you and the USA.

  37. 37 Almaz Mar 19th, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Congratulations! Way to go.

    BTW, I sang in your father’s glee club choir at Tafari Makonnen High School!

  38. 38 Abd Mar 19th, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Congratulation Nina you are noble pride not only for your husband, daughters and the
    whole other family, but also for the entire Habesha people. May God bless you.

  39. 39 Kibrom Hailu Mar 20th, 2009 at 2:29 am

    I have no word to express my feeling, Just “Elelellll Bai Ethipia”
    Congratulations Nina!

  40. 40 Tersit Fesseha Skeete Mar 20th, 2009 at 10:16 am

    This is from London, England.

    My aunt (W/O Almaz Yilma) has been looking for you for a long time. Your father’s mother (grandmother) and her father are brother and sister. She will be happy to contact you as she has great respect and love for your father. If you want to contact her please send an e-mail to


  41. 41 AZ Mar 20th, 2009 at 10:49 am

    congratulations Nina! I’m so proud of you, you are my inspiration and this is not the end of the road for all ladies in the world. thank you and may God bless all of us……

  42. 42 S TAD Mar 21st, 2009 at 5:29 am

    Congradulation My black sister job well can achieve your goal only in America.Yes we can!!

  43. 43 Yared (From Virginia) Mar 21st, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Congradulation,Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson,you are one of the Ethiopian-American inspirational and role model for all young Ethiopian-American who are seeking success,God bless you.

  44. 44 yetemwork Mar 22nd, 2009 at 11:50 am

    hode des aleg lanchi geeta yebarekish ewdeshalehuu

  45. 45 miru Mar 22nd, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    congra dear we the people of Qatar felt so proud of you !! keep up the good work

  46. 46 Lily Bekele Mar 22nd, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Your Honor! My entire family is sooo proud of you!!! I am an ETHIOPIAN women raised by exceptional ETHIOPIAN fathers like yours. Let’s not forget that it is our ETHIOPIAN heritage that makes us successful. Thank you for promoting positive image for Ethiopian Women!
    God Bless you!!

    Your Ethiopian Sister – Lily

  47. 47 S.A Mar 23rd, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Congratulation !! to Judge Nina, Mr. Richardson, little ones (your daughters.) My appreciation, especially to Mr. Richardson in being supportive husband in giving her time, encouragement and energy she needed.

  48. 48 Melate Yosef Mar 23rd, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Congradulations NIna, We, here in Addis, heard the news and are so proud of you. Your father, may God rest his soul in perfect peace, should know that he is one of the luckiest Ethiopians. Hope he was here to see what you achieved. May God repay you by showing you your children’s success. May God bless you, and help you in this.

  49. 49 Nebiat Tessema Mar 23rd, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Congradulations Judge Nina Ashenafi. You represent women of color as a whole and Ethiopian women in particular. It is our landmark, we claim this event. We have come a long way! Congradulations dearest sister.

    Best wishes.

    Nebiat Tessema

    Seattle WA.

  50. 50 Yonas Tesema Mar 23rd, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Hooray, Judge Nina. I am so proud of you and a great role model to my 10 and 8 years old daughters. Professor Ashenafi was my Music Mentor at Tafari Makonnen High School in Ethiopia.

    God Bless you and Your Family.

    Best Regards,

  51. 51 mimi france Mar 23rd, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    ninaye melaw betsebesh betam des belonal

    God bless u

  52. 52 Abadi Mar 23rd, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Congratulations. I have no words to describe it how much I get proud when I hear my home boys and girls move up here in the US. This is a great achievement and you are a role model for immigrants who have the potential and work hard to reach their dreams. keep up the good work.

  53. 53 Bethlehem S. W. Mar 23rd, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    With God all things are possible!
    I thank God for you, Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson!
    I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    When you have time, pls. read Jeremiah 29:-11-13

    your Ethiopian sis. Beth from Des Moines,WA

  54. 54 A.ASSEFA Mar 23rd, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    With all due respect,your honor,congradulations and GOD bless you and your family.

  55. 55 Misganaw Tadesse Mar 24th, 2009 at 5:03 am

    I am a big fan of Professor Ashenafi Kebede. When I heard about his young girl’s achievement, I’m proud a lot..

    Dear Nina, I would like to say congratulation! I wish you a very good success!

    God bless you!

  56. 56 Berhe Woldu Mar 24th, 2009 at 5:51 am

    Dear Woizero Nina Ashenafi,

    Many congraulations to you and all yours. As much as I am proud of your achievement and what you can give to the US, it is my prayer that God will give you wisdom as well as favour so that you would feel fulfilled at the end of each day.

  57. 57 Hermon Gezahegn Mar 24th, 2009 at 6:00 am

    Nina iam so proud of you. you are good example to all women
    God blees you.

  58. 58 Yaasha Abrahamy Mar 24th, 2009 at 10:22 am

    What a wonderful example for Ethiopians and all black women around the world. Congratulations, my sister!

  59. 59 M'aza Mar 24th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Dear Judge Ashenafi R., Nina I just want to say Congratulation on your big sucess. You made us so proud. Keep up your good work all the way with God’s help. You sister, M’aza

  60. 60 Abiy Ambaw Demilew Mar 25th, 2009 at 3:25 am

    What a wonderful news! I am so proud of you Judge Nina. You are a very good role model for many other Ethiopian-Americans. We hope and expect that you will do even much better than what you have accomplished now. I will keep you in my prayer. May The Almighty GOD be with you, Dr. Ashenafi and your lovely mom, and of course the rest of the family.

    Deacon Abiy

  61. 61 Luladay Mar 25th, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Congrats Nina, I am sure your father would have been very proud of you. He was a great man, I heard a lot about him. You made us all proud. “Yes We Can”

  62. 62 Simon Mar 25th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    ……Allah is good ……

  63. 63 tewodros Mar 26th, 2009 at 12:16 am

    it comes up with responsibility.and i hope you will do a good job. i am proud of you and inspired by you. congragulations again. and may God bless you.

  64. 64 sms Mar 26th, 2009 at 5:10 am

    Judge Nina, What a great honor for all Ethiopians. Let God be with you and your family always.

  65. 65 Aleazar Tilahun Mar 26th, 2009 at 5:54 am

    What a proud for all of us.

    We look up to you and God bless all your way long.

    Aleazar from Ethiopia.

  66. 66 GL Mar 26th, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Yes!!! News like this makes me so happy!! Ethiopians are going somewhere in this country and it’s only the beginning…in the future, we will see more and more intelligent and distinguished brothers and sisters. Proud of her and every other Habesha working towards a positive struggle.

  67. 67 ESKH Mar 26th, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Our deepest congratulations!!! We really proud of you and you’re a true living example for many Ethiopian’s. All the very best in your every day life!! Wishing you one day to be able to go to the Supreme Court or even better to replace Chief Justice John G. Roberts!

  68. 68 samruth Mar 26th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    nina we are realy proud of you
    god bless you and all ethiopians

  69. 69 Ayu Mar 27th, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Congratulation I am proud of you

  70. 70 Fitsum Kebede Mar 27th, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Congrats Judge Nina! As an Ethio-American myself, very proud of your achievement.

    One thing is sure, you are a judge in this wonderful nation, the United States of America, and as such you will not be harassed,pressured or swayed by authorities and other political forces one way or the other. Every morning you wake up, it will be in good conscious, to judge the fate of ‘alleged’ criminals based on your education professional ethics/judgment and last but not least the LAW OF THE LAND.

    Now, your fellow Ethiopian judges, such as Judge Birtukan Mideksa, are not as lucky as you are just because they are judges in Ethiopia.

    I’m wondering when that will change and a judge is a judge no matter where.

    Let me conclude my note with one open ended question: Now, what are you able to do, based on your profession and profession as a judge to the cause of th Ethiopian judges?

    God Bless.

  71. 71 Y.A Mar 27th, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Very, Very, Very Proud of this accomplishment, Mom and Dad must have done a good job.

    Just keep the ball rolling.
    Big Smile on everybody’s face.
    God Bless you

  72. 72 ASFAW CHURA Mar 28th, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Congratulation! Proud for all of us.

    God be with you.

  73. 73 Yonas Menbere Mar 29th, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Congratulations Dear Judge,

    I am proud of you like all the other Ethiopians. Keep up the good work and let them know that we also have a beautiful and educated ladies in Ethiopia and all over the world. You are a celebrity keep up the good work. Dr. Ashenafi was a great man, Like father and like daughter. God Bless You.

  74. 74 mimi Mar 29th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Great Job!

    God Bless.

  75. 75 melaku berhanu Mar 30th, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Congratulations! I am proud of you! God bless all your ways. You are the mirror of reflection for many of us.

  76. 76 Menbere Markos Mar 31st, 2009 at 1:31 am

    You are an inspiration to all of us. Motivator in your accomplishment. Thank you for all your sacrifices to get here. My daughter and I are proud of you.

  77. 77 Esmael Wondime Mar 31st, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Congrats Nina, I thank the Almighty God that He gives us lots of talents like you. I heard a lot about your father. He was a good model for fathers. You made us all proud. Stay blessed.

  78. 78 odaa Apr 8th, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Congratulation Judge Nina A. Richardson! You deserve the honor and you do have self-evident, uncontested capacity to undertake such a high responsibility.

    Odaa (Your great dad’s ex-student and ex-neighbor in the city of origin, Finfinnee (Shaggar/Addis Ababa).

  79. 79 Hanna Apr 20th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I am proud of you. Congratulations! You are an inspiration to all of us.

  80. 80 SIFELIG GETAHUN May 2nd, 2009 at 6:22 am

    You are a Hero woman like Obama! Congratulations! Do not for get Birtukan Medikesa and teddy afro.

    From Adama University, Ethiopia

  81. 81 MULUGETA ASRAT May 13th, 2009 at 3:27 am

    You are a pride to all Ethiopians. This will be a real encouragement to every Ethiopian in diaspora. Let we all cheer in her name& wish her a very successful endavor through out her career.

    Let God Bless us all!!!


  82. 82 ayele aberra Jun 8th, 2009 at 5:11 am

    well done nina;
    i hope you will influence and support your people with your knowledge and experience.
    best of luck.

  83. 83 afomia .gebremedhin Jun 24th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    congratulations Nina! I’m so proud of you, you are my inspiration and this is not the end of the road for all ladies in the world. thank you and may God bless all of us……

  84. 84 Habtam Jul 10th, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    really proud

  85. 85 Yared G. Medhin Jul 21st, 2009 at 3:52 am

    I am so proud of you Nina. You are really an Ethiopian.

  86. 86 muluneh gebre Oct 3rd, 2009 at 11:23 am

    How wonderful! proud of you.

  87. 87 henok Oct 10th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Where is Mrs. Ashenafi, the mother of Nina Ashenafi in this story. The woman who elected and chose her culture, her nationality and Ethiopia, but forgotten. That is the woman I am more proud of.

  88. 88 yonas Mar 17th, 2010 at 8:13 am

    We are proud of u like we are of your father. Don’t forget your poor country Ethiopia.

  89. 89 helena Mar 26th, 2010 at 9:42 am

    omg i couldn`t be more proud wooooooooow

  90. 90 sariye Apr 14th, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Judge Nina you inspire me as an African American woman of partial Ethiopian (Oromo) descent. I have passed your legacy down to my Ethiopian goddaughters.

    Also, what a wonderful family and father figure you have!

  91. 91 Jessey May 1st, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Reply to “henok” – you have nooooo idea what you are talking about….

  92. 92 Jessey May 2nd, 2010 at 1:27 am

    …you should be proud of ALL women “Henok”! Congratulations to Judge Nina! This is a great encouragement and inspiration to ALL women indeed!

  93. 93 kassahun Ermias Mekengo Jul 6th, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I am proud of you. I am young lawyer in Ethiopia and your success inspires me. I appreciate you!

  94. 94 Enatye Jan 6th, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I am so pround of you. I have no words to express my feeling! I did not know that you are the daughter of the renowned Ethiopian composer and musicologist, professor Ashenafi Kebede. I wish he were there! God bless you!!!!!

  1. 1 Tadias’ Top 20 Most Read Stories of the Year at Tadias Magazine Pingback on Dec 27th, 2009 at 3:35 pm
Comments are currently closed.


















Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.