International Women’s Day: Profiling Councilwoman Judy Brodhead

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Councilwoman Judy Brodhead

Councilwoman Judy Brodhead has called Naperville home since 1985 when she moved here from the east coast with her husband and three children.

She quickly realized her homeowners’ association provided a support system for residents, especially for young mothers like herself since her husband sometimes traveled during the week for work.

That’s when she got involved and ended up serving a few years on her homeowners’ association board.

“I realized I could start going to meetings and speaking for my neighborhood and even people on my block,” said Brodhead.

It was the beginning of her using her voice in the community. Eventually Brodhead worked on the city’s transportation advisory board, zoning board of appeals, and plan commission.

“When I got on plan commission I thought, ‘this is so interesting,’” said Brodhead. “We were looking at big maps with the rapid pace of development, we were really trying to think what should our boundaries be?”

Interest in City Council

Even though plan commission was what interested her most, she could also see herself on the dais.

“I thought looking at the people up there, ‘well I think I can handle what they’re doing and what I don’t know I can learn,’” said Brodhead.

It took Brodhead three tries until she was elected to serve on Naperville City Council in 2009.

More Women on Council

She said the early 2000’s were a difficult time for women to run for office.

“The idea of women running for office in those days, which I didn’t even think about for a while, was much harder even though we had a woman mayor and we had women on the council,” said Brodhead. “It could be a pretty daunting process for a woman candidate.”

She spent the first six years of her time serving as the only woman on council before Patty Gustin, Rebecca Obarski, and Becky Anderson joined her in 2015.

“Suddenly we had four women on the council and that was really fun,” said Brodhead.

As she nears the end of her term in April since members cannot serve more than three consecutive terms, one policy she’s proud of getting passed is the one for parental leave for city employees.

“It took a few years to get the council to pass a policy that would allow women employees to get enough paid leave in order to have a baby,” said Brodhead.

Brodhead is happy to see younger women with families running for office. She also reminds mothers it’s ok to wait, as she didn’t run for office until she was 47.

“You don’t necessarily have to have a career of 20 to 30 years,” said Brodhead. “You can do it for 10 to 15 years and you might have a fabulous time doing it like I did.”

Future Plans

Brodhead said she doesn’t see herself running for another office.

She does hope to be appointed to the human rights and fair housing commission. She will also continue teaching at North Central College and being involved in Naperville Neighbors United.

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.