Yesterday afternoon, I had the honor of meeting one of the DOT’s most valuable, pioneering, and longest-serving employees: Judy Gayle Lam. While Judy has decided to retire after 30 years of service, she will continue to be a source of inspiration for myself and the entire Department.
In 1979, Judy became the first deaf person ever hired by the DOT. She faced enormous challenges in the days before ADA became law, and through her perseverance, hard work and patience, she not only succeeded, but paved the way for others. Over her 30-year career, Judy rose from an entry-level position in the FAA forms office to become the FAA Forms Officer for the IT Business Enterprise Service, where she has overseen the design and procedures for all agency forms. That’s an important job for an agency that requires as many applications, certifications, and registrations as the DOT.
While Judy faced her share of unique obstacles working her way to the top, she always knew she was blazing an important trail for others. So, when the Department asked for her help establishing a Disability Resource Center where employees could go to request help and services, Judy took on the responsibility wholeheartedly. Through her work for the DRC, Judy has helped and improved services for countless colleagues and is responsible for making the DOT’s website accessible to those with handicaps.
Outside the DRC, Judy made an effort to educate others by teaching sign language to colleagues in her office. Her coworkers fondly describe her has one of the most patient, generous, and diligent people they’ve worked with. It is therefore no surprise that Judy has been recognized over her career with 7 Superior Contribution Awards.
But these aren’t the only things I admire about Judy. In addition to her incredible service to the Department, to her colleagues, and to the public, Judy is a fellow Illinoisian! She shares my fondness for President Abraham Lincoln, and will proudly tell you that she can trace her family’s roots all the way back to his hometown. In fact, it was President Lincoln who signed the original charter for Gallaudet University, where Judy met her husband, Beng, in college and where I served on the Board of Trustees while in Congress.
On behalf of myself and the entire Department of Transportation, I would like to commend Judy for her years of dedication, service, and achievement, and offer our best wishes for retirement.