Getting to Know Woman in Business, Inc. Founder, Judy Jaeger
Written by Becky Bruso[cresta-social-share]
Early HistoryJudy was born and raised in NJ and lived there for the early part of her married life. In 1976, the Jaeger family moved from New Jersey to Sturbridge, MA when their youngest, of three children, was 2 to 3 years old. Judy Launched Jaeger Insurance Agency Judy chose to remain at home with her children for approximately 18 years before starting back to work as a secretary at the American Optical. When her daughter Mary was in college, she began to work in the insurance industry, achieved multiple insurance certificates and then launched the Jaeger Insurance Agency. Judy’s nature was always that of a kind and caring individual and was known to have financially sponsored many of her customers when they weren’t able to pay their bills. She proudly notes that everyone who borrowed from her did, in fact, pay her back.
Thirty Years Ago Women Denied Membership to Local Business ClubsWhen Judy began her insurance agency, she wanted to find a place she could network with other business owners. In the early eighties, many of the women business owners were real estate agents and hairdressers in this area. Judy sought entry into local business clubs such as the Rotary and the Exchange Club and was denied membership simply because she was a woman. Since there was not an organization to provide Judy with a place to network and help other business women grow personally and professionally; Judy started her own!
The Early Years of Woman in Business, Inc. (WIB)From these strong, courageous, determined, and caring roots Woman in Business, Inc. was started. The name of the organization was carefully chosen as a symbolic reflection of the times and the challenges faced by a woman in business in the early 1980’s.
Early WIB MembersSome early WIB board and members consisted of Joan Lacoste, Beverly Gray, Dot Fontana, Helen Doucette, Carol Porra, Irene M. Garand, Lena Payant, Ginny Belforte, Pat Jeffries, Lorraine Bouthillier, and Michelle Bouthillier. It is from this heritage of strength, courage, and caring about other women upon which the Woman in Business, Inc. organization was founded and still thrives thirty years later.
Reflecting Upon WIBWhen Judy was asked how she felt about WIB still being in existence today, she said she was amazed and overcome with joy. It was evident Judy’s goal was always to help people. She built WIB with this value in mind and fostered a welcoming and openness to allow anyone entry; regardless of their academic or professional credentials. Women in the pre-business stages were equally as welcome to come to the meetings.
WIB Launched Monthly MeetingsFrom the early days of WIB, Judy grew the organization to include monthly breakfast meetings which included speakers who provided both personal development and motivational topics as well as exposing the WIB members to political speakers in this venue.
WIB Launched Day-Long SeminarsWIB also began to offer annual day-long seminars to help women succeed in business. The annual seminars were known to draw 50 participants. WIB provided an excellent window for all women to get a glimpse at the big picture of what goes on in business.
Judy and WIB Becomes a Role Model for Paying it ForwardIt is no wonder that when asked what her favorite part of her work was that Judy answered, helping others and giving advice in business. It was clear how much this part of her work Judy enjoyed as she talked about all her important individual and community accomplishments as she became a successful business woman and role model for others. The founding of WIB was Judy’s ultimate contribution to paying it forward for all of today’s members and future WIB members. Judy served as president of WIB several years. In her true tradition of her mentorship, she worked with the next President of WIB, Michelle Bouthilier, to bring her up to speed before Judy left her presidential post. Founded Scholarships During Judy’s presidency, WIB included scholarships in its mission. The Judith Jaeger Book Award Scholarship was originally offered to only those in the Tantasqua region and was focused on unsung heroes who might have been overlooked due to lack of popularity or visibility in the community. Up until 8 years ago, Judy’s book awards were still a part of WIB. WIB expanded to change the scope to foster women going into business. The two scholarship efforts diverged and today, our community, is the beneficiary of both the continued efforts of the Judith Jaeger Book Awards and WIB Annual Scholarship Program.
Travel and Family LifeJudy and her husband Ray, have enjoyed traveling around the world and claim no specific favorite country as she finds all quite wonderful. Judy did make special mention of her memories of Hong Kong, however. She traveled extensively and has literally been around the world having visited countries in each corner of the globe. Her hobbies have included needlepoint, sewing, and gourmet cooking (with German cooking a favorite). She even took on the ultimate sewing challenge having made her daughter Judith Ann’s wedding dress. She has enjoyed driving trips and supporting her husband’s alma mater Rutgers, at Scarlet Knights football games. Today, Judy still resides with her devoted husband, Ray, and enjoys being grandmother to three grandchildren and serves as an honorary board member of Woman in Business, Inc Over the next series of my articles, I will feature an entrepreneur’s story. Stay tuned for the next series by signing up for my mailing list.