In Memoriam: Lady Barbara Judge (1946-2020)

News | September 02, 2020

The EastWest Institute (EWI) respectfully acknowledges the passing of American-British lawyer and businesswoman Lady Barbara Thomas Judge, the first female chairman of the Institute of Directors and former chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. 

During her broad career spanning the law, banking, regulation, financial services and the nuclear industry, Judge remained a determined advocate of women’s rights. Judge died from pancreatic cancer on August 31, 2020 at the age of 73.

As one of EWI’s earliest members of the board of directors—Judge began her service in 1982, later becaming a member of the Chairman Council in 2011—she played an instrumental role in shaping the institute’s mission during its formative years.

Born Barbara Suzanne Singer in Manhattan on December 28, 1946, she studied medieval history at the University of Pennsylvania and then law at New York University Law School. In 1978, she was elected a partner at the large U.S. law firm Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler—the second woman to be promoted to the position at the time.

Throughout her career, she continued to brake barriers in many different fields, while always promoting and encouraging the advancement of women in business. In 1980, at the age of 33, she became the youngest commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and in 1983, she became the first female board executive director of Samuel Montagu & Co, a British merchant bank in Hong Kong. Judge was also the first female director at Rupert Murdoch’s News International and the first woman to chair the UK’s Institute of Directors.

After moving to the UK in 1993, Judge expanded her portfolio, embarking upon several careers including founding a private equity fund, becoming the director of Norwegian energy company Statoil, serving as deputy chair of the UK Financial Reporting Council and chairing the UK/US Committee on Corporate Governance.

In 2002, she became a director of the UK’s Atomic Energy Authority, serving two terms as its chair. Consequently, she was appointed deputy chairman of Tepco’s nuclear reform committee in 2012 and chaired its nuclear safety task force in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

In 2010, she was appointed as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to the nuclear and financial services industries.

In addition to her illustrious career, Judge was also known for her roles in higher education and the arts. She was associated with an array of business schools in Britain and the United States, including the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She sponsored a scholarship for Black South African women at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London and had been a trustee of artistic bodies like the Wallace Collection and the Royal Academy of Arts.

In addition to her son, she is survived by her mother; her sister, Nancy Singer; her brother, Michael; and a granddaughter.

Click here to read Judge's obituary in The New York Times.


Judge (bottom row, center) in the early days of EWI's founding.