News Release

Judicial Council Names Shelley Curran Next Administrative Director

Curran, the council’s chief policy and research officer, will assume the judicial branch leadership role Jan. 1.
Sep 19, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO—The Judicial Council of California today unanimously voted to select Shelley Curran as the next Administrative Director. Curran will assume the role Jan. 1, following the retirement of Acting Administrative Director Millicent Tidwell.

Curran is the first woman to hold the permanent leadership role at the council. She is also the first openly LGBTQ+ person to hold this statewide office.

Said Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero: “Shelley is a dedicated public servant and gifted state administrator with more than 20 years of experience working on public policy with all three branches of government, including 14 years with the judicial branch. Throughout her career, Shelley has been committed to public service and advancing equity, fairness, and dignity for all individuals and communities.

Through my own experience working with Shelley as well as the resoundingly positive feedback from other leaders inside and outside of the branch on her qualifications and her character, a strong consensus clearly emerged that Shelley was the top choice to fill this pivotal position for our state court system.”

Said Curran: I’m honored to have the trust and confidence of Chief Justice Guerrero and the members of the Judicial Council. The issues being addressed daily in California’s courts touch on almost every aspect of people’s lives. I am committed to helping the Chief Justice and the council in shaping and supporting an effective, efficient, and innovative court system that is inclusive and accessible to all those living in our state.”

Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, and former Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata all praised Curran’s appointment:

“Justice is stronger with Shelley at the helm of the Judicial Council,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Her appointment not only represents historic firsts—it affirms California’s commitment to advancing equal justice under the law. Shelley’s storied career uplifting our state’s diverse communities and her unmatched professional experience will ensure justice in California always stands tall.” 

“Shelley Curran is an exceptional judicial and public policy professional who will bring a wealth of skill to the role of Administrative Director of the Courts. She has excelled in every aspect of her career, from negotiating and drafting priority legislation for two Senate pro Tems, to providing strategic advice and subject-matter expertise on issues affecting the court system and access to justice,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego). “She is an authentic professional who is unwavering in her dedication, and she will be an asset to the Chief Justice—and California—in this role.”

Said President pro Tem Emeritus Don Perata: “Shelley Curran was a highly skilled, invaluable advisor throughout my terms as President pro Tem and majority leader of the California State Senate. And she was absolutely essential to the passage of complex landmark legislation to rebuild and renovate unsafe or substandard courthouses throughout California. It is truly poetic that the capstone of Shelley’s tenure with the judicial branch is her appointment by Chief Justice Guerrero as Judicial Council Administrative Director.”

About Shelley Curran

Curran, the council’s chief policy and research officer, has served the Judicial Council since 2009. In her current role, Curran is responsible for coordinating research and policy agendas, identifying judicial branch priorities in emerging policy areas, and advancing these priorities within the Executive and Legislative branches.

Curran first joined the council to establish its Criminal Justice Services office. As director of that office, she played an integral role in implementing key criminal justice reforms affecting courts and the public.

In both roles, Curran has been involved in major policy issues for the judicial branch that include remote court proceedings, pretrial detention, evidence-based practices in sentencing, recidivism reduction, ability-to-pay determinations for fines and fees, and the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act. 

She has also served as lead staff to multiple council and Chief Justice workgroups, including helping to institutionalize changes and best practices in our court system based on lessons learned from the pandemic.

Before joining the council, Curran was the principal consultant to two successive California Senate Presidents pro Tempore. In that role, she advised Senate leadership on the development and implementation of the legislative agendas regarding the judiciary, criminal justice, civil rights, and consumer rights. She was also responsible on behalf of the President pro Tempore for negotiating and drafting priority legislation involving judicial branch budgets, courthouse construction, juvenile justice reform, and mortgage reform.

Curran earned a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University.


2021: Chief Policy & Research Officer, Judicial Council

2009: Director, Criminal Justice Services Office, Judicial Council

2004: Principal Consultant, California State Senate, Office of the President pro Tempore

1998: Policy Analyst, Consumers Union of the United States (now Consumer Reports)