December 15, 1947 to December 22, 2020
Founder and Board Chair
2005 to 2020
Sharon Chatman was a teacher and head coach for 20 years. Her teams won numerous championships at the high school, community college and university level. In recognition of her achievements, she was honored as the San Jose State University Women’s Basketball Coach of the Century, and in 2004 she was inducted into the SJSU Sports Hall of Fame. After retiring from coaching in 1986, Judge Chatman attended the University of California, Hasting College of the Law. After graduation from law school, she accepted a position at the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor where she stayed for ten years. As a prosecutor she handled a variety of case including gang, sexual assault and homicide cases.
In June of 2000, she was Governor Gray Davis’ first appointment to the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara. In her eleven years as judge she has supervised the Superior Courts three dedicated domestic violence courts where she helped to develop many changes, including a specialized court for mentally ill domestic violence defendants and a special project for defendants with children. She also presided over numerous sexual assault and murder trials.
She served on the national faculty for the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence and National Institute on Fatherhood, Visitation and Domestic Violence which provides workshops for judges and other professionals throughout the US. Her commitment to social justice fueled her many presentations and appearances at schools and community groups, and was the inspiration for the founding in 2005 of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Building Peaceful Families (BPF), whose mission is to celebrate, educate, and inspire individuals through programs that help them become more involved, responsible, and committed family and community members.
For her work, she was the recipient of the Santa Clara County Bar Association's Unsung Hero Award; the NAACP Social Justice Award; the Commission on the Status of Women - Woman of Vision Award; the California Judges Association – Alba Witkins Humanitarian Award for outstanding service to the community; 10 Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area, and California Probation Officers Chief’s Association Judicial Officer of the Year.
Ms. Chatman was a judicial leader whose commitment to serving DV families led to innovative institutional changes in our court system as well as a lasting impact in our community. Her particular focus on the role of fathers places her at the cutting edge of DV intervention.