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Women Leading Change: Profile of the Honorable LaJune Lange

Artika Tyner Posted by Artika Tyner, Author, Professor.

Public Policy Professor and Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the University of St. Thomas, Leadership Author, Civil Rights Attorney

Women Leading Change: Profile of the Honorable LaJune Lange

Leaders are global citizens who recognize the reality of our shared humanity and common destiny. This realization is motivation to embark on a journey to create a more just world. On this journey, leaders seek to make a lasting impact which transcends borders and uplifts our global village. The Honorable LaJune Lange exemplifies the qualities of a global citizen and leader in her daily life. Judge Lange is on a mission to make justice a lived reality across the globe.

The global citizen is rooted in core values.

Throughout her career, Judge LaJune Lange has demonstrated the qualities of global citizenship by serving in the community, promoting equity, and upholding the rule of law. Her work is rooted in the value of service. She began her career as a Hennepin County public defender where she advanced equal justice under the law. She sought to protect her client’s right to a fair trial and uphold due process of the law. Her commitment to service and natural leadership ability led to her appointment by the governor to the trial court in 1985. She served as a Fourth Judicial Court judge where she handled civil and criminal cases. Since her retirement from the bench, she has continued to serve as an advocate for justice.

Judge Lange’s leadership is also deeply rooted in the value of equity. This sense of fairness and justice motivated her to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force for Gender Fairness in the Courts. She was also the Co-Vice Chair of the Minnesota Supreme Court Racial Bias Task Force. As a result of these efforts, significant reforms were implemented in Minnesota which improved access to justice for women lawyers and litigants, racial minorities, and persons needing interpreters.

Judge Lange uplifts the rule of law through her advocacy. Lange works as an international expert to help women in other countries transform the laws on female inheritance, domestic violence, and advises world leaders on constitutional reform and election procedures. She has served as a powerful advocate & difference maker for organizations like the United Nations World Conference on Race and National Bar Association.

Judge Lange recognizes the importance of participatory leadership rooted in the value of civic engagement. “We must be fully present in the world. Exercise the right to vote in an informed way, holding candidates accountable on issues before, during and after the election,” stated Lange. By being fully present, each person can aid in developing innovative solutions to the challenges they face.

The global citizen empowers others to discover the leader within.

Leaders inspire others to take action and lead social change. This compels ordinary people to do extraordinary things by tapping into their leadership skills and making a difference. Judge Lange challenges young lawyers and community members to engage in a process of self-discovery where they begin to cultivate the transformative power in their hands. This power is then channeled into the collective action needed to eradicate injustice and eliminate inequities.

Judge Lange empowers others to lead by modeling the way. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Global citizens recognize the fact that social justice issues are pervasive and far-reaching. Whether it be promoting global development or developing equitable governance strategies, Judge Lange stands ready to lead change by combining her legal training with her natural leadership abilities of strategic thinking, reflective listening, and creative problem solving.

Judge Lange has created training opportunities to educate, equip, and train leaders. She serves as the Honorary Consul for South Africa. Over 20 years ago, she founded the LaJune Thomas Lange International Leadership Institute. ILI was founded to help create transformative leaders who would work to make a positive difference one person at a time. Judge Lange describes leaders as “a repairer of the breach. A partner across cultures and oceans.” This type of leader is someone who is willing to go into difficult situations to listen, assist and train. She embodies these qualities as she facilitates the process of transformational change and engages leaders from political stakeholders to grassroots organizers.

A global citizen makes a lasting impact.

Judge Lange has built the solid foundation for her leadership legacy. Her work will continue to set the gold standard for future lawyer-leaders. Judge Lange’s leadership has transformed the lives of countless law students and young lawyers. She is committed to training young leaders to serve as ethical, morally responsible leaders. She is welcomed into classrooms across the world to share about her leadership journey and plant the seed of leadership in the next generation.

Judge Lange serves as a historian and valuable contributor to the narrative of Minnesota’s history. Judge Lange was an honorary member of the board of advisors to the Minnesota African American Museum (MAAM), an educational, cultural, and archival museum. She diligently works to ensure history captures the rich story and legacy of African Americans in Minnesota. Most recently, she was instrumental in commemorating the first Dred and Harriet Scott days in the state of Minnesota (December 5-6, 2015).  The first weekend in December now honors the Scott family’s struggle to realize freedom from the bondages of slavery and attain the promise of equal citizenship.

The struggle for freedom and liberty still persists today. Judge Lange reminds us not to accept that change cannot happen. Instead, Judge Lange challenges each of us to pick up the mantle of leadership and serve as a global citizen. Change begins with each of us. Through this collective action, we can move from the valley of despair to an oasis of hope where liberty, freedom, and justice reign supreme.

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