March 24, 2022
RE: RETIREMENT OF JUDGE KITTY-ANN VAN DOORNINCK
Pierce County Superior Court is announcing the retirement of Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck after more than 24 years serving the citizens of Pierce County. Judge van Doorninck’s last day will be March 31, 2022.
Judge van Doorninck’s parents, Wolter and Anneka van Doorninck, immigrated from the Netherlands, by way of Montreal, Canada, where her older brother was born. The family moved to Seattle when her father was hired by Boeing as an engineer in 1957. The moment her parents were eligible, they became United States citizens and have always been actively engaged in politics. Judge van Doorninck’s parents instilled the value of hard work and a commitment to community in her.
Judge van Doorninck married her husband, John Van Buskirk, in 1979. They have two adult sons. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Cal-Poly Pomona in 1980. The couple then moved to Tacoma so Judge van Doorninck could attend the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University).
After graduating from law school in 1983, Judge van Doorninck started her career with the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. During her tenure with the Prosecutor’s Office, she spent years focused on special assault cases (child abuse, rape, and domestic violence). She tried several murder cases with colleagues who now also serve, or have previously served, on the Superior Court bench. In 1989, Judge van Doorninck was the first attorney appointed to the Administrator Deputy position under the leadership of Pierce County Prosecutor John Ladenburg. In that role, she oversaw personnel issues, policies, procedures, and budgets. In 1998, Judge van Doorninck was appointed to the newly created Department 20 of the Pierce County Superior Court by Governor Gary Locke.
Presiding Judge Sorensen had this to say about Judge van Doorninck, “I have known Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck since I joined the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office in 1989. She has been a friend, mentor, and sage to me and many others over the years. Her breadth of experience as a Judge touches all areas of the law, but children and families in crisis have been a particular focus. Her hard work with various juvenile justice programs, our dedicated Family Court, and with many other Court initiatives has resulted in tangible, positive, change. Her influence spans the entire state through her leadership in our Superior Court Judges’ Association. In addition to serving as our Association’s statewide president, she has been an active, respected, voice in the legislature. Her combination of experience, effort and concern for our community will be greatly missed.”
Judge van Doorninck’s passion throughout her judicial career was always children and families. In 2003, she was instrumental in establishing the first dedicated Pierce County Family Court rotation for high conflict custody disputes. She served many years at Remann Hall, Pierce County’s Juvenile Court, focusing on child welfare issues.
Statewide, Judge van Doorninck was actively involved in the Superior Court Judges’ Association (SCJA), serving in several leadership positions over the years, including Trustee, Chair of the Family and Juvenile Law Committee, Chair and co-chair of the Legislative Committee and President (2019-2020). In addition, she served on the Washington State Supreme Court’s Commission on Children in Foster Care for many years.
Judge van Doorninck supports several local non-profit organizations, including Hilltop Artists and Arts Connect, which provide a creative outlet for justice involved youth; the YWCA; the American Leadership Forum; and Safe Streets, as a past board member and president. In 2017, by gathering together other local leaders, she helped establish “Help Me Grow,” a local child welfare connection point to provide young families with information and resources to help prevent court intervention.
In retirement, Judge van Doorninck plans to spend more time with family, friends, and engagement in the community. Please join us in congratulating Judge van Doorninck on her career.
About Pierce County Superior Court:
Pierce County Superior Court is the second largest superior court in the state of Washington and is proud to serve the citizens and visitors of Pierce County. The court is staffed with 23 judges and nine commissioners. There are three sites where court is held: the County City Building at 930 Tacoma Ave S., Tacoma, Remann Hall Juvenile Court at 5501 6th Ave, Tacoma, and Western State Hospital at 9601 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.piercecountywa.gov/superiorcourt.
Chris Gaddis, Superior Court Administrator