Romonda Belcher-Ford: Iowa’s First Female African-American Judge

Romonda Belcher-Ford: Iowa’s First Female African-American Judge


In late August, it was announced that Assistant Polk County Attorney Romonda Belcher-Ford had been selected to be a district judge in Iowa. By accepting this position, Belcher-Ford became the state’s first female, African-American judge. She was voted into the position by Polk County’s district judges from a list of three nominees selected by a screening commission.

Belcher-Ford, 42, is originally a North Carolina native. She attended Howard University before moving to Iowa to study at Drake University’s prestigious law school. After graduating in 1995, she would spend the next fifteen years working as an attorney for Polk County. She spent most of that period working with the county’s Criminal Division and more recently began representing Polk County and its Department of Human Services in guardianships and conservatorships.

The courtroom isn’t the only place that Belcher-Ford’s hard work can be seen, however. In the past she has served as the mediator for the Volunteer Lawyers Project and as Project Coordinator for the Iowa National Bar Association’s “A Monumental Journey” public art project, whose goal is to erect a monument in tribute to the founders of the National Bar Association. She has also served as a mentor to young law students and has worked with several community and legal organizations.

In her spare time, Belcher-Ford also has a flair for dramatic acting. She performed regularly with the Langston Hughes Players and has acted in several local productions. She also formed the Ryane Ensemble, a one-woman show portraying the lives of African-American women throughout history.

With her experience and dedication to the field, Belcher-Ford seems poised to take on the responsibilities of the position. She has credited her education at Drake Law School, specifically her time as a clerk to Iowa Supreme Court Justice Louis Lovorato and the time she spent working with the Drake Legal Clinic, for helping to shape her career.  Experience that she will bring when she assumes the seat.

“I am truly elated,” Belcher-Ford told the Des Moines Register. “I’m blessed, I’m humbled, I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity. It’s been a dream of mine, something I’ve always wanted to do.”

This article was written for by Donte Gibson.


  1. Justice Belcher: I know you probably won't remember me, but I worked in the DOT Legal Division when you interned there. I knew when you were asked what you saw for youself in the future and you said you wanted to be a judge that it would happen for you–no question. I enjoyed working with you. I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. I am glad I can say I knew you "back when". Please have a safe and wonderful holiday. Again, congratulations and good luck.

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