Education advocate Judy Crain received the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s highest community honor on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at Spring 2017 Commencement. The Chancellor’s Award is made to individuals who have assisted in some significant way in the development of UW-Green Bay.
The award recognizes Crain for her tireless commitment in service to campus and community and in particular to public education in Wisconsin. At UW-Green Bay, Crain served on the Chancellor’s Council of Trustees from 2002-2005 and on the UW-Green Bay Ecumenical Center Board. She also chaired the Board of Regents Chancellor Selection Committee for the University’s fifth Chancellor, Thomas Harden.
“Judy, your commitment to our region and to public education is amazing and inspiring…,” siad Chancellor Gary L. Miller in his presentation of the honor. “Judy has spent five decade — 50 years! — serving the people of Wisconsin. Her father and grandmother contributed to her passion for social, political and women’s issues and the conviction that personal involvement can truly make a difference. She has lived her life doing just that. Public education, and more importantly, the student we prepare… have been fortunate to be the recipient of her passion and efforts.
Crain credits growing up in Madison, and her father, a high school history teacher, coach, and principal, for her strong belief in the value of public education, her interest in social and political issues, and the conviction that personal involvement can truly make a difference.
She says her maternal grandmother, an immigrant and single mother, who worked in an insurance company to send two children to college and was the first woman in her town to vote, was the inspiration for her passionate feminist orientation. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she and her family moved to Green Bay in 1971.
Locally, she is probably best known for her many years on the Green Bay School Board, serving for 14 years, six years as president. She worked to ensure the strength and quality of Green Bay schools for all students and families in all neighborhoods, providing programs for all student needs.
Crain also served on the boards of many other organizations dedicated to education and children, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Nicolet Federated Library System, and Scholarships, Inc. Her leadership includes chairperson roles with the Community Partnership for Children and Brown County United Way. Recognizing her expertise and leadership in education, she was appointed to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin and served from 2005-2012.
Her efforts on behalf of education and children have earned her countless awards over the years. Empowering women and girls is also a high priority for Crain, serving as Coordinator of Services for the Sexual Assault Center of Family Services, and as a board member of both the local and state League of Women Voters. As she watched the Green Bay community grow more diverse, she recognized the challenges and richness this would bring. So she led Diversity Circle discussion groups and joined the board of the Multicultural Center of Green Bay, reaching out to create more dialogue and interaction among the various groups involved.
Her interest in the underlying structures and systems within a community led her to becoming president of the Bay Area Community Council, a group concerned with creating dialogue and inspiring action on issues affecting the general quality of life and equality of resources. Her reputation led to recognition by the wider world: she was appointed as a lay representative to the State Supreme Court Committee on the State Bar, the Panel on Selection of Federal Court of Appeals Judges, and as a member of the State Medical Examining Board.
When asked for advice to others she replied, “Discover and do what you love, care beyond yourself, your family and your neighborhood. Get involved — learn, participate, and accept your responsibility to the larger community.”
– Excerpts written by Karen Kersten for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Green Bay Branch for “Women of Wisconsin Dreamers and Doers; Vol. 2.