Winter 2008 Distinguished Alumna
DEBORAH L. CLANTON, '76
The Honorable Deborah L. Clanton has over 31 years of experience in the corrections field. She currently serves in a dual capacity as magistrate and director of probation services for the 62nd B District Court of Kentwood, MI. She was sworn in as the city’s first-ever magistrate in 1992, and was the first African American magistrate appointed in the Greater Grand Rapids Area.
She began her distinguished career in 1977 as a correction officer with the Michigan Training Unit in Ionia, MI. She worked for four years as a correction officer and counselor at the Georgia Women’s Correction Institution in Hardiman, GA, prior to her 20 year tenure with the Kentwood District Court. She has held teaching appointments at Grand Rapids Community College and the Atlanta Youth Development Center.
Clanton, who earned a bachelor of science in criminal justice from Grand Valley State University in 1976, and a master’s of public administration from Western Michigan University in 1992, is dedicated to the pursuit of justice and equality for all individuals and serves as a significant role model for many within her profession.
She is a dedicated community activist and was instrumental in bringing the issue of HIV/AIDS to the forefront of the Grand Rapids community. She has served as past-president of the African American AIDS Coalition and the Grand Rapids Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, for which she started the HIV/AIDS Speakers Bureau.
In 2001, she received the WOOD TV8 Unsung Heroes Award for her work related to HIV/AIDS in the Grand Rapids area, and in 2005, was honored with the Giant’s Floyd Skinner Justice Award for her accomplishments in the Criminal Justice arena.
Clanton currently volunteers as a youth tutor and Sunday school teacher for the Messiah Missionary Baptist Church and has served on a host of community and non-profit boards, including the GVSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and as co-chair of the GVSU Annual Giving Committee. She is a member of the Michigan Association of District Court Magistrates and of the Michigan Association of District Court Probation Officers.
Deborah and her husband Richard currently reside in Kentwood.