NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Whether she is promoting Stephen F. Austin State University’s educational programs or working in the Nacogdoches community with young people, Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of SFA’s James I. Perkins College of Education, is all about education and the community.
Recognizing Abbott’s leadership, involvement and service to the community, the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce recently named her Citizen of the Year. This award acknowledges an individual who has performed outstanding services for the betterment of the community, made exceptional and sustained contributions to the community, and possesses the characteristics of honesty, sincerity, integrity, and benevolence.
In 2010, Abbott and her husband, Ralph, moved to Nacogdoches when she was named dean. In this role, Abbott oversees SFA’s largest college, which comprises five academic units ranging from elementary education to human services.
Within the community, Abbott shares her passion for education. She finds opportunities for people to learn how they can impact a community’s economic health, and she works with citizens to help them understand how a community invests in the educational system and in them as individuals. She also helps locate opportunities for educators to connect to civic and business leaders in order to invest in public education.
Abbott is a member of Friends of Historic Nacogdoches, American Association of University Women, SFA University Women’s Club, the Federation of Women’s Clubs, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce and a volunteer for Master Gardener programs.
Barbara Holl, operations vice president for the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, said Abbott’s work as chair of the chamber’s education committee has been instrumental in helping high school students continue in their academic pursuits.
Abbott oversees the Nacogdoches County’s Opportunity for Better Learning Experience banquet and scholarship program, which honors graduating high school seniors who chose a more rigorous recommended or distinguished program of study in their high school courses and completed documented service hours.
Additionally, Abbott co-chairs the Leaders of Tomorrow Crew, which provides opportunities for eighth graders to learn about their community and teaches leadership skills.
“Through her leadership, scores of students have chosen SFA,” Holl said. “She devotes her time and resources to all these events. Dr. Abbott is passionate, committed and positive about her work. She is a great example to others.”
Members of the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce submit names and supporting criteria to an executive committee each year for the Citizen of the Year award. The executive committee reviews the nominations and narrows the selection to three candidates. Nominations are presented to members of the chamber’s Board of Directors, who vote by secret ballot.