Judy Slade McCaskey’s devotion to children knows no bounds. Her service to students reaches from first-graders, whom she taught for 40 years in Palatine, Ill., to spending time in Chicago’s inner city volunteering with teenagers in her retirement.

Twenty years ago, Judy joined Maggie Daley, the wife of the Chicago mayor, on the Advisory Board of After School Matters, a highly regarded organization offering programs to enrich the city’s high school students, and Judy still serves on the board today, impacting thousands of students each year. She’s also a board member for the Erikson Institute, which focuses on early childhood education. Even when spending summers in Maine, Judy’s service doesn’t rest. She has volunteered at the local library, reading to local children and tutoring first-graders who need extra help.

At an age when many are ready to sit back and enjoy retirement, Judy actively seeks opportunities to make the world a better place. Judy and her husband, Ray, are active at Wartburg College, having funded scholarships for prospective elementary school teachers and the Orange Opportunity Scholarship to bridge the financial gap for inner-city youths. While the award recipients receive full tuition support, Judy also strives to make a personal connection with each student. “She stays in touch with all of them through the successes and failures of their Wartburg days,” writes a founder of Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy, an inner-city charter school. “Literally, no one could give more deeply of herself to these minority students than Judy does.”

In addition to helping diverse students come to campus, Judy has been a champion of promoting diversity and inclusion within the organizations she has helped lead over the years. Under two governors, Judy has served as a member of a Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women in Illinois, making recommendations about improvements. Other organizations that have benefitted from Judy’s involvement include the Chinese American Service League, the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind, Jane Addams Hull House, the Loyola University Museum of Art, The Fortnightly of Chicago, and Opera House Arts and the Island Heritage Trust in Maine.

“Judy’s love for children is based on a firm belief that all children have abundant God-given talents and her dedication to seeing that each and every child develops those gifts and becomes everything God intends for them to be,” wrote the retired CEO of Holy Family Ministries, where Judy volunteers by teaching enrichment units in elementary classrooms. “Race and privilege do not matter to her.”

Judy’s serving spirit took to the skies several years ago with an agency that facilitated adoptions of Korean orphans by American families. Judy and her husband once flew to Korea to help a group of 11 children travel to America, changing diapers and warming bottles in the back of a plane before delivering the children to their new adoptive parents. In recent years, Judy and Ray helped start a unique preschool for Chicago-area children. At the Judy and Ray McCaskey Preschool Program at The Chicago Lighthouse, fully sighted children learn together with children who are blind or significantly visually impaired.