Judith Leonard

Professor of Practice

Judith Leonard has served as General Counsel of the Smithsonian Institution since 2009.  Prior to her current position, she served as Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel of the University of Arizona from 1998 to 2009 and as General Counsel of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Executive Office of the President from 1997 to 1998.  Ms. Leonard was also an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education, an Assistant Attorney General in Arizona and an Associate University Counsel for the University of North Carolina (with focus on medical/health campus). During her tenure at the University of Arizona, she taught higher education law and at the University of North Carolina she lectured in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Business.    

She was elected to membership in the American Law Institute in 2014 and is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Association of Corporate Counsel.  She currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Southern Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to advancing equitable education policies that elevate learning for low-income students and students of color in the southern states.  As part of her Smithsonian responsibilities, she has also served on the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.  From 2014-2018, Ms. Leonard served on the American Bar Association’s Legal Education Accreditation Committee, chairing its complaint committee.  She was the recipient of the 2021 Law College Association Award of the University of Arizona, where she serves on the board of visitors for the James E. Rogers College of Law.  She is also a member of the International Women’s Forum and served on the Women’s Advisory Board of the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital.  She recently became a member of the inaugural advisory board for the Widener Global Leadership program at Wichita State University. Ms. Leonard received her master’s and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a graduate of Cornell University.