Judy Mindin was ready for a change. After a successful career in sales and marketing at Pabst Brewing Company, she’d kept busy as a painter, and also owned and operated three galleries in the Milwaukee and Door County areas with her husband. But in 2006, life began to feel hectic and unbalanced, so Judy decided to transition away from full-time employment.
Judy interviewed at a local staffing agency, but none of the part-time positions were a good match. Discouraged, she was preparing to leave when a woman she’d never met stopped her in the lobby with a question.
“Do you know Melodie Wilson?”
Judy responded that she was familiar with Melodie’s work as a journalist, anchorwoman, and television reporter, but she didn’t know her personally.
“Well, she’s looking for you,” indicated the woman, who was working with Melodie to fill a position at ABCD, and after overhearing the conversation thought Judy might be the perfect fit.
They exchanged contact information, and Melodie called Judy that day for a phone interview. While Judy found ABCD’s mission inspiring, she didn’t think the timing was right. She’d made it clear she was only looking for part-time employment; the position Melodie needed to fill was a full-time job.
Judy thanked Melodie and declined an in-person interview. As the holidays approached, Judy focused her attention on other projects.
But ABCD kept calling. Melodie was remarkably relentless and persuasive, and Judy felt herself wavering. Maybe the chance encounter at the employment agency was not, in fact, random. Maybe she and Melodie were meant to work together.
On December 26, 2006, Judy visited ABCD to interview with Melodie. She later learned that Melodie had delayed her family vacation to ensure the meeting could happen.
The interview was intense. Melodie asked a lot of questions and was seemingly dissatisfied with Judy’s answers. To Judy’s surprise, Melodie asked her to meet and interview with ABCD’s acting Executive Director, Terri Lee Danner. Judy found instant rapport with Terri Lee.
Judy agreed to work for ABCD with the stipulation that she would only remain in the position for a few months. She still expected to pursue her original plan of simplifying her life and working part-time.
January 2, 2007 was Judy’s first official day with ABCD. She remembers it as chaotic and overwhelming.
“It was too much. I was ready to quit,” she recalls.
At the end of the day, Terri Lee caught up with Judy in the elevator. She saw the concern and apprehension on her face. She looked Judy straight in the eyes and asked for a favor.
“Just give me one more day. If you still want to quit after that, then you can.”
One more day turned into two, then three. Days stretched into weeks and months. Judy soon discovered that both she and Melodie had a passion for details. Melodie even remarked to Judy, “You remind me of myself.”
Over time, Judy and Melodie became good friends, trading stories about their children who are similar ages. When Melodie’s cancer returned in 2009, Judy became part of a close-knit trio of women who supported both Melodie and her family. To this day, Judy remains close to the family.
Judy has now been with ABCD for twelve years, and remains dedicated to the mission that Melodie brought to life: creating highly customized, one-to-one connections to support breast cancer patients, family members, and friends. From working with Melodie on Mentor matches, to leading marketing and communications efforts, to completing Family & Friends Mentor training, Judy has played a vital role in ABCD’s evolution. Today, as Director of Program Services and Healthcare Partnerships, she leads the support center team and works to strengthen awareness of ABCD in the medical community. She also ensures that the mentor-matching program reflects Melodie’s vision.
From her time with Melodie, to her work with healthcare professionals, to mentoring others, to supporting her sister as she battled a Triple Negative breast cancer diagnosis and rigorous treatment, Judy has witnessed firsthand what a difference the power of one-to-one makes.
“When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer,” Judy notes, “they have a team of medical experts surrounding them, yet patients still often feel alone. They need the support of someone who truly understands what they are feeling.”
People grappling with a breast cancer diagnosis and its ramifications might put on a brave face for their family and friends to avoid upsetting them. But when confiding in a Mentor, “You don’t need to worry about showing emotions or breaking down,” Judy points out. “You can be more honest and real.”
Pictured above: Judy Mindin, ABCD Board Member Sandra Underwood, ABCD Data Manager & Communications Associate Leanne Mindin, who’s also Judy’s Daughter