What is your name, age, and location?
Judy Nogg, 63, Boulder, Colorado.
What is your profession?
I worked in Hollywood for many years, as a story analyst and writer. Now I work at a nonprofit that serves veterans.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
Undergraduate BA in Sociology, Psychology, and Political Science. Masters in Education.
What was your first job?
I worked at my dad’s company at age 16, filling in for people on summer vacations. In college, I worked in a department store selling accessories. After college my first job was as a waitress and my second job was as a pre-school teacher.
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
When I was student teaching, there was a boy in my class whose mother had murdered his father. She was in prison. I could tell that this kid was in trouble and I kept asking my supervising teacher, the principal, and the school psychologist for help, but it wasn’t happening.
When I moved back to Colorado, I kept thinking about him. Finally, one of my girlfriends got tired of me talking about him and said, “Don’t you think there might be other kids in trouble here that you could help?” So I got in touch with social services and my husband and I became foster parents to teenagers (even though we were just twenty-four years old ourselves). That’s what started me in the general field of human services.
In terms of my interest in the entertainment world, the idea burst into my consciousness when I saw the movie, WELCOME TO L.A.
Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?
I have to say that it’s all been pretty exciting. From having a foster home for five teenage girls to now, working with veterans. The entertainment world was very “exciting” but I get more meaning out of social services.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
My first experience where I noticed it was when I was substitute teaching at a reformatory. The teenage boys, no matter what trouble they’d caused, viewed me as a mother figure—even though I was just a few years older than they were. No matter how they may have treated female peers, they all had great respect for their moms and they all gave me natural respect. It was quite remarkable.
I feel that the female perspective has provided me with a balance that has helped my career, but I’ve never felt that simply being a woman helped or hindered.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
I can’t say that I ever felt that being a woman hindered my career. I always felt equal to men. When I look back, I see that most of the parents I knew when I was a kid talked to their sons about careers and talked to their daughters about going to college to meet a man or to be a nurse or teacher. That all changed very fast in the sixties.
Please say a few words about your experience with the work-life balance.
As I was a single woman most of the time that I raised two daughters, it was very hard balancing motherhood with career. When the kids were little, I recognized that I had the choice of pursuing my career (developing movies in Hollywood) or paying sufficient attention to my kids. I had to decide if I wanted a more secure job with flexibility but not much promise of high pay (and the time to spend with my kids) or to pursue the top executive track and be a workaholic to succeed. I decided that I’d rather spend more time with my kids. I never regretted my decision to sacrifice career heights and money to be more available to my children. But I have never been very interested in money or power. For me, relationships and service are much more nourishing.
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
Many, but Eleanor Roosevelt stands out. Meryl Steep would be another. My mom is probably my very best role model. She was remarkably adept at making all people, from whatever background, feel comfortable in her presence. She was a very curious person who loved to read and converse.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
I think the best advice I would have for women starting out in either the entertainment or nonprofit world is that there are all types of people out there in every profession. Some of them have it together and some don’t. As a woman, as a human being, we want to keep growing, keep learning how to interact with others, how to promote the positive while keeping firm boundaries. I don’t jump all over myself for my poor choices nor do I get too self-satisfied with my wiser choices. It’s just all one big educational adventure to me. That would be my advice: have an adventure all the time. Be true to yourself. We each know our own truths and when we listen, our lives flourish and when we ignore our own truths, we flounder. The choice is always ours.
– Interview by Eve Richer