A broadcast journalist with a decade-spanning career, Judy Miller got into the business accidentally. She left college because “nobody talked about journalism in those days,” and she felt that a teaching degree did not align with her goals in life. In 1973, she got involved with the Detroit ABC morning show after meeting some of the employees at charity fundraising events. This led to a job as an associate producer for the Troubleshooter, a consumer affairs report. Eventually Judy became the first female assignment editor in Detroit. In 1981, the Detroit Free Press opened up a bureau in Boulder, Colorado, where Judy became the planning editor. She was also a reporter there for seven years.
It was while she was in Colorado that Judy first became involved with JAWS. She attended the first camp and enjoyed the opportunity to exchange “war stories,” get support and advice and ask questions. “Everybody has a story,” Judy said. “Everybody. Some are just bigger and better than others, or funnier than others, or sadder than others. We all bonded so incredibly well, and we all said, ‘Geez, we ought to do this again.’”
As JAWS continued to grow over the years, Judy took a break from participating in the camps because she believed the organization should remain more intimate. While she eventually returned to JAWS, she still sees membership as an important issue. “I don’t want us to outgrow ourselves,” Judy said. “But I don’t know how you limit it . . . then we become exclusive rather than inclusive. It’s a real war between being totally inclusive and limiting.” Either way, Judy believes JAWS is a needed organization.
“I think everybody feels very safe at JAWS,” she said. “I think that whole notion of everybody coming together at the same level is really important. I mean, that’s how it started. I think that’s the one thing that’s permeated all these years, and it’s very important. I think women need to feel safe.”
This oral history interview with Judy took place at the JAWS camp in Essex, Vermont on October 27, 2013.
( This interview was conducted by Yong Volz )