January Spotlight, Honorable Charlene Larche-Mason, Skip of 1989
In what ways did your Ursuline education prepare you for the work you’re doing now?
At Ursuline, I learned that I could achieve whatever goal I set my compass toward. In 8th grade, my political aspirations began when I decided to run for class president. This opportunity taught me the value of public speaking and earning the confidence of your classmates. I learned that honesty and transparency will allow even those with different points of view to entertain reasonable solutions. I was fortunate to be elected class president for four consecutive years. It was during this time that I sharpened my skills on conducting meetings and learned the true value of service to others and teamwork. These attributes have allowed me to develop a legacy of integrity. As I learned during my tenure at Ursuline, there are no shortcuts to doing things the right way. Now, as a judge, I will bring the same leadership to the bench. In many ways, looking back on my time at Ursuline, it seems as though all of my preparation was leading to this moment.
Please describe the most significant value you learned from Ursuline Academy.
Hard work, being of service to others and sisterhood are three of the most significant values I’ve learned as a Skip at Ursuline. These attributes taught me to be self-sufficient and always stand on the side of what was right. Ursuline instilled a confidence in me that is unparalleled. Although I was enjoying my experience while enrolled, it was not until I headed to college and law school that I realized how well prepared I was to face the demands of this world. After 13 years under the gentle tutelage of the Ursuline Nuns, I was determined to make a difference in this world in whatever capacity God placed me. I have spent my entire legal career doing adoptions, representing children in need of care and most recently, I served as the Chief Prosecutor for the City of New Orleans for the past 13 years.I am committed to bringing to the bench the same excellence that afforded me the opportunity to run unopposed for this history making race.
Describe Ursuline in one word. Explain.
Foundation. I was blessed to have parents that understood the value of education. They ensured from a very young age that their daughters would have the very best educational foundation available. Attending Ursuline from kindergarten through 12th grade provided a foundation for life that was rooted in tradition and sisterhood. The comradery cultivated over my 13 years at Ursuline provided a priceless foundation on which I was able to securely build my future with confidence. I am not the exception in the Skip Class of ’89. Each class reunion that I attend, I am reminded how well so many of my classmates have done since leaving Ursuline. This absolutely speaks to the foundation that was afforded each of us as we matriculated through Ursuline.
About Honorable Charlene Larche-Mason
-The manifestation of hard work does pay off and dreams do come true
On July 30, 2020 history was made. The Honorable Charlene Larche-Mason became the first female judge elected to the Municipal and Traffic Court of New Orleans and the first female elected to preside over traffic matters in the history of the City of New Orleans’ Traffic Court. Although she secured her seat in an unopposed election earlier this year, she has been preparing for this position for decades. She is a native New Orleanian that was raised in the heart of Treme in the 7th Ward. Judge Larche-Mason attended Ursuline Academy for thirteen years from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Upon graduating from high school, she attended Xavier University where she secured a degree in Political Science. While attending Xavier, she was afforded the opportunity to intern with then State Senator Marc H. Morial in his law office. It was also at that time that she began her career in public service as a 911 Operator with the New Orleans Police Department.
With a first-hand view of the law and legal process, she decided to relocate to Baton Rouge and attend Southern University Law Center in pursuit of a law degree. After graduating from law school and passing the bar, she was honored to be extended an opportunity to serve as an assistant city attorney with the New Orleans City Attorney’s office under then Mayor, the Honorable Marc H. Morial. She began as an assistant city attorney and in 2004 became one of the youngest lawyers to be promoted to Deputy City Attorney. Later in 2008, she was recognized by Mayor C. Ray Nagin for her dedication to city government. He and then City Attorney P.M. Fields extended an offer to Judge Larche-Mason to become the first Chief Deputy City Attorney of the Traffic and Municipal legal team for the City of New Orleans. In her capacity as Chief Prosecutor for the City of New Orleans, she worked daily inside of the Municipal and Traffic Court building. She always possessed a clear vision for creating an accessible and equitable court that effectively served everyone that appeared before it.
In 2017, she was recognized for her innovative ideas and dedication to pursuing best prosecutorial practices as Employee of the Year for the City of New Orleans by then Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu.
In addition to her legal career, Judge Larche-Mason was elected to serve on the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee for 8 years under the Obama Administration. She is also a Silver Star, Life Member of the Omicron Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Judge Larche-Mason and her husband, Ronald Mason, have been married for more than 17 years and have one son, Carter.