FOR RELEASE: September 8, 2020
Judith H. Katz, who served on boards of the Williamsville Central School District and the Erie 1 BOCES for a combined total of more than 50 years, has been honored with New York’s highest honor for distinguished school board service.
Katz, an early leader of regional efforts to appreciate and encourage diversity in public education, will receive the Everett R. Dyer Award for Distinguished School Board Service during the New York State School Boards Association’s virtual convention in October.
"The selection committee had a top-notch group of candidates to consider," said NYSSBA President Fred Langstaff. "Judy stands out as a deserving recipient of the Dyer award for her many years of dedication to excellence in public education and her public advocacy on the state and local levels."
A statewide president of NYSSBA in 1988 and 1989, Katz has drawn praise for serving energetically in the succeeding decades as an influential mentor and inspiration for local board service throughout the state.
Williamsville board member Eric Borenstein credited a conversation with Katz at a college alumni event in 2017 for kindling his interest in school board service. "Her passion for education, especially public education, was like a beacon in the wilderness for me," Borenstein said.
In addition, Katz was founder and longtime chair of the Erie 1 BOCES Diversity Committee. "She was well ahead of the curve in this area," noted Erie 1 board President John W. Sherman.
Erie 1 BOCES Board Vice President Edward Cavan said staff development programs initiated by Katz and the diversity committee aimed to help employees better understand and embrace differences. "She had a huge impact encouraging all of us to support tolerance, compassion and acceptance," Cavan said.
Williamsville Superintendent Scott Martzloff added, "Judy’s focus was not just about anti-discrimination but actually learning from and embracing the different cultures that we are fortunate enough to have in our area."
Colleagues cited Katz’s involvement in forming the Foundation for Erie 1 for helping to ensure that resources were available to integrate more technology into educational programs. "Judy Katz recognized and respected the power of technology," noted Cavan. "She was one of the first board members to see how transformative it was in the classroom and behind the scenes." Erie 1’s smart use and expansion of technology has helped more students graduate on time and has boosted enrollment and academic performance, Cavan said.
Katz, who moved to the Buffalo area in 1968 with her husband, Leonard Katz, served as president of both the Williamsville and Erie 1 BOCES boards. She was on the BOCES board for close to 40 years and the Williamsville board for 15 years. Since retiring from the Erie 1 board, she has remained involved in the Erie 1 Foundation and chaired the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women.
Her career included many years as vice president of community relations for the Weinberg Campus assisted living community in Amherst.
To view a photo of Judith Katz, click this link: