Judith McManus Price Scholarship

Generous Gift Establishes Scholarship

By Lora Lucero, AICP

Judith Price was an exceptional woman with extraordinary talents that she freely shared, not only with her family and friends, but with her community, her colleagues, and her profession. Now her husband, Thomas Price, continues her gift of sharing with a generous endowment of the Judith McManus Price Scholarship to help women and minority students enter the field of planning.

The emphasis is on assisting undergraduate and graduate students who intend to pursue careers as practicing planners in the public sector and have demonstrated a genuine financial need.

Members are invited to contribute to the fund with tax-deductible contributions to the APA Foundation in Judith Price's name. Scholarships will be funded through the earnings of the endowment and will be available through APA; applications will be accepted in the spring of each year for the following academic year.

Judith McManus Price died in September 2001 after a lengthy battle with cancer, just weeks after receiving the "Planner of the Year" Award from the New Mexico Chapter. But her contributions to the profession will live on through the many young planners who were fortunate to work beside Judy during the past 30 years. And her spirit will continue to enrich future planners through this scholarship established in her name.

During her formative years in Florida, Judy demonstrated her leadership abilities when she attended Girls Nation in the early 1960s in Washington, D.C., and was elected by her peers to be Attorney General. This honor landed her in Attorney General Robert Kennedy's office for a face-to-face introduction. Upon returning to Florida, she received both her undergraduate (1966) and graduate (1968) degrees in International Affairs at Florida State University, meeting her future husband Tom on his very last day at FSU.

Although her parents encouraged her to get a teaching certificate ("just to have something to fall back on"), Judy found her calling in planning soon after graduation when she started working with John DeGrove at Florida Atlantic University. There she spent some of her time researching and writing on the topic of mobile homes — a topic that she would testify about 30 years later before the New Mexico Legislature.

Judy accepted her first entry-level planning job in El Paso in 1970 when her husband joined the faculty in political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. Judy stayed with the city for the next 21 years (1970-1991) rising to the position of Chief Urban Planner in the Land Use and Transportation Planning Division, a Deputy Director level position. She left her mark on El Paso and on her colleagues there in many important ways. In addition to training new planners entering the profession, she established the first metropolitan planning organization (MPO) in El Paso and was the first transportation planner. Judy also supervised the 2.5-year effort to significantly revise and update El Paso's comprehensive plan which was unanimously adopted by the City Council. She was extremely proud when that plan won a Texas Chapter APA Award for the best Comprehensive Plan in 1988.

In 1991, Judy's family moved to Las Cruces when she assumed the responsibilities of Director of Planning for Dona Ana County. At two different times, she stepped up to serve as the Interim County Manager for more than 12 months and also served as Assistant County Manager, but her love was always planning. Always ready for a challenge, she didn't blink an eye when, soon after her arrival, the District Court Judge pronounced the county's zoning ordinance unconstitutionally vague and unenforceable. Instead, she worked with staff and the County Plan Commission to develop an Interim Zoning Ordinance and began the never-ending process of educating the public and elected officials about the importance of planning and land-use controls. Part of that education included documenting the serious problem of colonias in Dona Ana County and then working with the New Mexico Attorney General and the state legislature to reform the state subdivision enabling law in 1993.

Among Judy's other accomplishments in Dona Ana County were (1) the establishment of the foreign trade zone which was approved by the U.S. International Trade Commission; (2) a much needed update of the County's Comprehensive Plan; (3) funding and implementation of a new GIS mapping program; (4) coordination with the Governor's Office and other state and federal agencies on significant border development projects; and (5) training and upgrading all development review and code enforcement processes in the County.

Outside of the planning profession, her family was her life. Raising two sons, John and Joseph, was an adventure that both Tom and Judy enjoyed. The children's activities were her activities. She loved musicals and took her children to many productions. John followed his mother tangentially, becoming an architect. Joseph took up her love for the theater and is now in stage management.

Without a doubt, Judy's life was cut short and many, many people miss her. If she were alive today, she'd be moving on to the next challenge with the strength and optimism that were her trademark. Now, through the generosity of her family, new planners can move forward to confront those challenges — hopefully with her strength and optimism.