Amy Judy led the Wisconsin Violence Against Women with Disabilities and Deaf Women (VAWA) Project from its inception in 2002 until 2015. Amy never worked alone and the Project was no exception- the Project worked in collaboration with several partners and countless numbers of local agencies, self-advocates, and individuals. In the spirit of that collaboration, the Project partners issue this joint statement. We are deeply saddened to hear about the death of Amy Judy.
The VAWA project’s mission was that “[w]omen with disabilities and Deaf Women who experience sexual assault and/or domestic violence will be supported by people who have actively prepared for access and who think about the meaning of respect, one woman at a time.” Although Amy officially began work on the Disability Rights Wisconsin VAWA project in 2002, in many ways, her entire life and career led here. Amy’s work as a community organizer, her personal and professional experience with people with disabilities, experience working with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, and her dedication to social justice all informed her approach. It was intersectional and trauma-informed long before these terms were even coined.
Amy was a deeply thoughtful and contemplative leader who brought together people of different philosophies, cultures, and backgrounds and provided the firm and gentle guidance that moved people first to insight and epiphany, then to action. Time and time again, we watched as Amy gathered people in a room, listened, asked questions, gently challenged assumptions, harnessed expertise, captured creativity, and found solutions for problems that previously seemed insurmountable. Building on these conversations and the work done before her, Amy led the efforts to develop resources, conduct trainings, and provide assistance to local programs to ensure truly accessible services for victims with disabilities. Her practical solutions to historical problems gained her national recognition.
Amy was a mentor to countless individuals throughout the course of this Project. She elevated the voices of advocates and individuals with lived experience as leaders in this movement. Her ground-breaking work will improve the lives of survivors with disabilities for years to come. Although Amy took her work to an even larger national stage at the Vera Institute for Justice in 2015, her dedication, deep conviction, leadership, warmth, sense of humor, and generosity will be greatly missed.
VAWA Project Partners: Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), and Deaf Unity