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Judith Ayotte Paradis

Judy Paradis

Born in Ste-Agathe, Maine on January 17, 1944, Judy is the middle child in a family often. Her French Acadian roots and bilingualism have been major assets in her work. She prides herself in being multicultural as well, embodying both American and French heritages.

After completing her secondary education in the Ste-Agathe schools with the Daughters of Wisdom, she majored in French at the University of Maine at Fort Kent and went on to teach her native French at Wisdom High School in Stc-Agathe and Madawaska High School. She earned the Maine Education Association Medal of Honor in the early 80's for her successful battle to solidify tenure rights for all teachers in the state.

Elected to the Maine House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1986, she embarked on a 14-year career in the Legislature, serving three terms in the House and four in the Senate. She served on several committees, eventually chairing Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources, Health and Human Services. Judy soon established herself as a hard worker who dedicated herself fully to serving her constituents with all her might and skills. She was renowned for her tireless advocacy for the underprivileged, the young, and the elderly, supporting public policy that would impact Maine citizens far into the future. She was steadfast in supporting measures preventative in nature, like using the tobacco settlement money to fund Even Start and home visits. She was also a major player in passing the landmark Maine RX Program, enabling the state to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for affordable prescription drugs.

As the president of the Maine Chapter of the Association of French-speaking Parliamentarians, she worked with lawmakers from all over the French-speaking world. Her joy in doing so was tempered by the reality of the lack of human rights for women and children in third world countries.

In the early 90's, she participated in a fact-finding mission to Haiti that paved the way for the peaceful return of power from General Raul Cedras to deposed but duly elected President Bertrand Aristide. The international mission succeeded because of its knowledge of the French language and Haitian culture and history.

Nominated by the legislative leadership in Augusta, Judy was awarded a Toll Fellowship by the National Council of State Legislatures in 1991. A productive NCSL conference in Lexington, Kentucky enabled her to establish meaningful relationships with legislators from many other states. She also garnered a Distinguished Legislator Award and the UMFK Outstanding Alumni Award.

Since leaving elected office, Judy has dedicated herself full-time to the work she started as a teenager helping to meet the needs of the people around her. She voluntarily staffs a constituent office in Madawaska, a first in Maine, to improve service to the people of the St. John Valley and beyond. She is active in many civic and religious organizations dedicated to improving the lives of others.

1992 Photograph

Inducted March 2005