Throughout her childhood, Judith (Judy) Stein’s mother instilled in her and her siblings the idea of fairness through the example she set for them every day. While they never went without, theirs was not a childhood of excess. Her parents worked hard to provide for them and to support their education and broaden their understanding of the world.
Years later, what stands out most to Judy is the care and concern her mother demonstrated for children. Edna Mae would save a little bit wherever she could to make charitable contributions to national organizations like St. Jude’s and Save the Children, and she found ways to show her family that giving back was important. “It was clear that my mother felt if you could, you should do your part to make the world a little better for someone in need. She showed us that supporting organizations that enhance our community is a responsibility, an opportunity and a privilege,” remembered Judy.
Judy retired from GE Global Research after 30 years where she worked as a chemist, specializing in silicones chemistry, nanotechnology, and alternative energies. Before nanotechnology was integrated into the common vernacular, Judy was helping to shape nanotechnology standards and road mapping and was later elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Through her work, she had the opportunity to travel extensively and collaborate with scientists from across the world. Though the opportunities for her were many, Judy chose to stay in Schenectady. As she says, “Schenectady is a special place; there is a wonderful mix of people here who care about, and are investing in, our community. I like being a part of the Foundation, linked to donors who share the common objective of making our community stronger.”
Always setting new goals for herself, Judy began to think about how she could have the greatest impact with her charitable giving. Her advisor, Bridget Ball Shaw, encouraged her to investigate the Community Foundation. Having served on the Foundation’s board years ago, Bridget thought it might be the perfect fit. Judy is clear in her intentions, “I knew I wanted to give back, but the Community Foundation has helped me have a broader understanding of my community, and I like that the Foundation’s staff are able to offer ideas for where my support might have the greatest impact.”
The establishment of the Judith Stein Family Fund has allowed Judy to give to the causes she cares most about and provides her the opportunity to support new initiatives as they develop. One example of this support is her recent gift to the capital campaign for the Schenectady Boys and Girls Club. Her early leadership was recognized by the Club, naming the center’s Judith Stein Family Fund Music and Theater Practice Room in her name. “My mother loved classical music, and this space would just delight her,” mused Judy.
In recognition of all her mother taught her, Judy established the Edna Mae Fitall Stein Memorial Fund in 2018. This fund is endowed for grantmaking support in Schenectady. “This fund seemed like a wonderful way to tie our legacies together and to honor my mother’s memory and her love for taking care of others. I know this would have made her so proud.”