A community thrives when its top professionals are deeply engaged in a wide range of local initiatives – a description that surely fits Charles B. “Chuck” Judson, the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.
Judson is well known in legal circles as an attorney and shareholder at Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge law firm in Traverse City. He’s also been a leader at the Chamber, serving as the Board Chair in 1999 and two years later on the committee that directed the leadership transition from long-time Chamber President Hal VanSumeren to former President Doug Luciani, now CEO of TraverseCONNECT.
“Chuck Judson really embodies what the Distinguished Service Award is all about,” Chamber Executive Director Laura Oblinger said. “He’s been a key part of so many local success stories – the Downtown Development Authority, Northwestern Michigan College, the transformation of the Grand Traverse Commons and many others. His tireless community commitment and legal expertise has paid major dividends in our region for more than 30 years.”
Judson was born and raised in Big Rapids. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Albion College, and a law degree from the University of Detroit. His commitment to community was instilled at an early age from his parents, who owned a hardware store founded by his grandfather who served as a trustee on the board of Ferris State University when it transitioned from a private college to a state institution nearly 100 years ago.
“Both my parents took a very active role in projects that were important to the community,” Judson said.
Judson moved to Traverse City in November, 1980 and found ample opportunity to get involved in his new home.
“Traverse City was a growing community and it was looking for people willing to give some time, and I was happy to do that,” he said. “My involvement just kind of grew from there.”
His legal expertise has helped numerous local organizations including the Chamber, the National Cherry Festival, NMC, the Traverse Area District Library, the Northwestern Regional Airport Commission and the Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority. His long-time involvement with the Chamber continues through his service on the TraverseCONNECT Board.
He is a past president of the Grand Traverse/Leelanau/Antrim Bar Association, and he’s been elected a Fellow at the Michigan State Bar Association. In 2012 and 2013, Chuck was included in Best Lawyers in America in the area of Government Relations.
Judson has also gained state and national acclaim for his work in mediation, arbitration and conflict resolution. He is a past chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Michigan, and is a certified mediator for civil and family law matters in the 13th Circuit Court and in U.S. District Court.
Even with those extensive professional obligations, Chuck has found the time and energy to build on his impressive resume of community service. He’s serving his second stint on Traverse City’s Downtown Development Authority Board and is the current DDA Board Chair, and was instrumental in initiating the city’s Public Art Ordinance. He’s also worked on numerous other downtown projects including the revival of the State Theatre.
Judson is also the Chairman Emeritus of the Northwestern Michigan College Foundation, and is active in the Central United Methodist Church. He recently served on the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, where his efforts resolved utility issues for an affordable housing development at the city-owned Depot Property off Eighth Street.
He credits his wife, Sue, and adult daughters Allie and Bailey, for allowing him the time to get involved in numerous community initiatives. The Judsons also have one granddaughter, 9-month-old Reiley. Judson is also close to his sister Polly, who will travel from her home in New York for the DSA presentation next month.
Judson said he was “honored” and “humbled” by the award, but is quick to point to others in the community who are equally deserving of thanks and recognition.
“There are so many people around town who I look at who are doing incredible things every day, from foster parents to the many people who work on charitable causes…a lot of the heavy lifting is done by people who haven’t looked back,” Judson said. “I’m very honored that people feel I’ve had a positive impact on Traverse City.”
Judson will be presented with the DSA during a formal program at the Chamber’s Annual Celebration January 15, 2016 at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. The Annual Celebration is from 6:30 – 10 p.m. with the DSA presentation at 7:15 p.m. The event is open to Chamber members and the general public. Ticket information is available at www.tcchamber.org
The Chamber’s Distinguished Service Award is among the oldest community service awards, dating to 1929. Last year’s recipient was Susie Janis of Traverse City.