Dorothy Leonard Judd

For nearly 70 years, Dorothy Judd devoted her substantial talents and energy to eliminating corruption, patronage, and "bossism" from all units of government. From her Vassar College graduation in 1921 until her death in 1989, Judd was a leader in the League of Women Voters’ efforts to establish standards for government employment and also a primary force behind the merit-based civil service systems established by the state of Michigan and the city of Grand Rapids.

Employed as a teacher of American History and Government at Grand Rapids’ Central High School until her marriage in 1924, Dorothy became one of the most active member of the Grand Rapids League of Women Voters chapter, having joined the organization shortly after graduating from college, and was elected president in 1926. The following year, she was elected state chair. After finishing her second year as state leader, she moved on to a three-year term as a national director of the league. Her expertise in civil service reform gave her national attention. From 1932-1934 she served as chair of the league’s Influential Efficiency in Government committee.

Judd also work to change Michigan’s laws and governmental procedures. The result was voter registration laws were updated and "tombstone" voters eliminated from the voter rolls. In 1936 she was appointed to the Michigan Civil Service Study Committee. As a member of this committee she helped draft and pass the constitutional amendment creating the Michigan Civil Service. In 1961 as delegate to the state Constitutional Convention, she guided a strong civil service article through debate into the final document.

Author and editor of many booklets on the civil service, Mrs. Judd earned the respect of government leaders. She was appointed by governors of both parties to: Committee for Revision of Election Laws by Gov. Brucker, Civil Service Study Committee by Gov. Fitzgerald, Committee on Election Laws by Gov. Williams and Civil Service Commission by Gov. Romney. In 1963 she chaired the State Advisory Committee to the U. S. Civil Service Commission.

On the local scene, she was an organizer and leader of the 1949 Citizens’ Action movement to unseat machine politics in Grand Rapids.

For fifty years she was involved on many governmental committees, she never held office but had as much influence on the quality of government and public service as any elected official in Michigan.

Transcriber: ES
Created: 22 Mar 2007