Michele Keller is a lifelong Northern Kentuckian. She was elected to an eight-year term to the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2014. Prior to that she was a Court of Appeals judge and a lawyer in private practice for 17 years.

A graduate of NKU’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law, she also served as an assistant county attorney.

She and her husband, Jim, a physician, are the parents of two daughters, ages 22 and 26. Now, the youngest is in law school and the oldest is employed, making good use of her master’s in public health.

Elected to the Court of Appeals when her youngest daughter was in ninth grade and her oldest daughter was a senior in high school, she knows the pressures of balancing parenting and a demanding career.

And husband, Jim, a doctor with St. Elizabeth Physicians, added the fine art of cooking to his extensive skill set along the way.

“It is a real challenge at times to strike a work/life balance,” she says.

She’s accustomed to blazing a trail in many ways. She was the first woman from the 6th Appellate District to be elected to the Supreme Court. Prior to 2005 only 10 percent of those serving in judicial offices in Kentucky were women. Today the number is closer to 35 percent—and there are three women on the Supreme Court.

Her advice for women thinking about higher office in law?

“Be diligent, be prepared and keep in mind that as intense as some things may get it’s never good to burn bridges on a personal level,” she says. “Your character and reputation for professionalism cannot be developed overnight, so maintain your integrity and mind your manners!

“The courage to make some very difficult decisions and to place the law above a personal interest of bias is of paramount importance.”

Justice Keller describes her leadership style as “collaborative”—“I’m a firm believer that the more minds the better. But a good leader needs to have the courage to make and implement tough decisions.”