Eleanor Roosevelt’s guiding principle applied to every interaction

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By Pam Hersh

One wish on Judy Hutton’s bucket list never will be fulfilled.

“I always wanted to have lunch with Eleanor Roosevelt,” said Hurtton, the CEO of the YWCA Princeton. “Her actions, speeches, writings were so inspiring to me-in so many different ways.”

For me, however, having lunch or dinner with Judy Hutton, who is retiring in June from her YW Princeton position, is as inspiring as and a bit more realistic than having lunch with Eleanor Roosevelt.

Among the many things I learned from Judy, whom I have known since the day she came on the job 13 years ago, is an Eleanor Roosevelt guiding principle prominently displayed on an Eleanor Roosevelt poster in Judy’s office: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Judy has applied that principle to every interaction with her friends, employees, professional colleagues and all participants in the YWCA Princeton programs and services. It is impossible to feel inferior in her presence because when you are with Judy, you are important, special; you count – regardless of your social status, financial situation, race, gender, age, or political persuasion.

“I am so lucky to be in a profession that has allowed me to really make a difference in people’s lives – and their emotional and mental well being is a really important facet of improving a person’s physical well being,” said Judy, who has an undergraduate degree in social work and graduate degree in education.

One of the most gratifying aspects of her job over the years has been when she has connected one on one with those women using the services of the YWCA’s Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC). The BCRC provides very concrete services such as transportation assistance to critical medical appointments, wig and prosthesis boutique, fitness and wellness programs, support groups, outreach and education, and Integrative arts therapy.

“But I found it particularly important just to sit with the women going though chemo. People are really comforted to have someone there to listen and act as an advocate if necessary,” said Judy.

Her motivation for retiring from the executive position with the YWCA is to be able to do more of the above. It is time, she said, to move away from running/managing the show and move into being part of the show, thus directly involved in helping people.

When she retires, she plans to take the summer off – she has not had a summer off since her early teens – and then seek “something that allows her “to help individuals, by making that personal connection.

“Being the CEO at the YW of Princeton has been enormously gratifying because of all that has happened here in the past 13 years. But it means that I often wake up at 2 a.m. worrying about where I can apply for more grants, raise more private dollars, work out employee scheduling so that services to our clients are never jeopardized, finding the funds to be able to offer more youngsters free pre-K nursery care. All of the above is extremely important work, but at the age of 64, I want to pivot from managing the programs to working in the programs,” said Judy who now manages an organization with a budget of $3.7 million, 30 fulltime employees, 100 part-time employees, and 3,000 members living throughout Central Jersey,” she said.

Financially, the YW of Princeton is on solid footing and embarking on some major renovations of the physical plant, including building an entire wing dedicated to childcare.

“Our childcare program (serving infants through five year olds) currently enrols 82 children. Data show that youngsters enrolled in preschool programs perform better academically and acquire better social emotional skills. Also, childcare is essential for working women to remain in the workforce. Therefore, I am so proud of the YW’s ability to provide quality childcare, and particularly happy that this wonderful program has become more and more accessible through an increased number of full scholarships,” she said.

A few months ago, the YWCA Princeton announced that the increased accessibility to its preschool programs was due to a new partnership with Princeton Public Schools. The New Jersey Department of Education gave the public schools a grant to expand preschool education, and YWCA Princeton was selected as a partner of the Princeton Public Schools in the preschool initiative.

Judy’s belief in partnerships and collaboration as key elements to implementing the social service goals of the YW has proven particularly beneficial in fulfilling the YW’s core mission to take a stand against racism. “In 2007, the Princeton YW worked with the Trenton YW to develop our Stand Against Racism initiative at a time when people were failing to acknowledge publicly the existence of racism. We were telling the world that racism exists and were willing to stand up and expose it – shine a spotlight on it. People throughout Central Jersey thanked us for what we had done. The effort was so successful that the national YW adopted it.”

And when the Trenton YW had to close because of lack of funds, the YW Princeton took over a few of the Trenton-based initiatives, including Latinas Unidas is “to empower the Latinas community to self-sufficiency and to foster family and community well being through education, information, training and support services by building bridges,” she said.

For the next few weeks, Judy will focus her attention on the YWCA Tribute to Women Awards Dinner (Thursday, March 26, 2020, Hamilton Manor) honoring women who embody the principles of the YWCA. One of these awardees, however, represents a brand new category reflecting a key YW partnership – with men. Isles founding CEO Marty Johnson will be honored as a way of highlighting that the social justice mission of the YWCA Princeton is most effectively implemented with the support of men.

Judy never has won a Tribute Award, because it would represent a slight conflict! My mission, however, is to write her nomination as soon as she sets foot out the door. And I will make sure to attach a picture of her – and one of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Judith Donohoe Hutton is the CEO of the YWCA Princeton and the former Executive Director of Anchor House. A leader in our community for more than 30 years, Judy has dedicated her career to affecting positive change within our families, neighborhoods and workplaces. She has done so by working passionately to advance the missions of eliminating racism, empowering women and ensuring the wellbeing of children and youth.
Judy shares the successes of the YW’s Breast Cancer Resource Center, English as a Second Language Program, Latinas Unidas, the HiSET® Testing Center, the Yound Wonders Child Development Centers and Stand Against Racism with other YWCAs both nationally and around the globe. And those are just a few of the initiatives she oversees! From all-girls competitive robotics, to dance and arts & crafts, to book clubs, to educational lectures and seminars, to a Newcomers Club that welcomes people from all over the world, more than 5,000 participants are personally touched by the programs and services led by Ms. Hutton each year!

Judy’s collaborative spirit has been very evident over her career. She has served as President of the Garden State Coalition of Youth & Family Concerns, was named Mercer County’s Professional of the Year in 2004, and received the 2014 Community leader of the Year Award from the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. Concurrently, she received a national award from the US Department of Health and Human Services in recognition of her diligent work with groups including the Youth Services Commission, and the National Network for Children and Youth.

Judy has served globally, regionally and locally as a member of the YWCA World Service Council, the Princeton Regional Chamber’s Women in Business Alliance (WIBA) and the Community Advisory Board of the Junior League of Greater Princeton.
Ms. Hutton earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master’s Degree in Education from the College of New Jersey. She resides in Bordentown with her husband, Craig,. They have a son, Sean, who resides in Lawrenceville.