Judy Lambeth retires from Maryhurst

Judy Lambeth retired from Maryhurst on June 26, 2020, after 46 years of service to the agency and Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Judy took time from summer vacation to summarize her life’s work at Maryhurst.

How did you come to work at Maryhurst?

I began working at Maryhurst in September 1974 as a clinical intern when I was 24 years old. I am originally from Atlanta and left home to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. From there I went to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, for religious education in social work and obtained a Master of Religious Education degree. I then attended the University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work and graduated in 1980 with a Master of  Social Work degree.

What attracted the young Judy Lambeth to the field of social work?

I had worked in the inner city of Indianapolis after college from 1972-74 and knew I was called to do faith-based social work helping people.

What was it about Maryhurst that enticed you?

When I was in Indianapolis I started a girls club; I loved working with teenage girls who were challenging. It was the Mission of Maryhurst and the values of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd that kept me at Maryhurst for 46 years. I never had any doubts about working at Maryhurst and loved every minute of it.

Judy Lambeth in 2020

What were your work assignments at Maryhurst?

After working at Maryhurst as an intern for 10 months I was hired on as a therapist. I worked as a therapist for about 11 years and then in 1986 became Associate Executive Director. In January 1990 I became CEO of Maryhurst and remained in that position until I retired on June 26.

How did working at Maryhurst match your vocations call?

My vocation is a faith vocation.  Maryhurst was a perfect fit because of the values of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. When I initially started at Maryhurst, I had no idea I would stay for 46 years. After my internship, the needs of Maryhurst dovetailed with my calling and skills. The fit was an answer to my Call.

What was your most memorable experience at Maryhurst or Good Shepherd?

Being a part of and watching our girls in the residential programs overcome adversities! And going to to the Motherhouse in Angers.

You often spoke of the great gift of community at Maryhurst when speaking of your colleagues. What did you mean by this?

It’s how our co-workers rally around the core values and the mission of Maryhurst and Good Shepherd. Our team wants to make a difference. The mission and core values bond us; we are focused on the same thing. This gives us the courage to persevere through whatever it takes – the good times and the bad times.

Was there any particular defining moment at Maryhurst that characterized your lifes purpose?

No. not one defining moment. It was a lifetime, a career time of defining moments.

As CEO, how did you raise awareness about Maryhurst and educate the community about girls/youth in need?

This was my focus as CEO. Maryhurst is well known in Louisville and known in the state for taking the most traumatized girls in Kentucky. We have expanded to serve more than

children (boys and girls) and  families through community-based services. I had the privilege to serve in state leadership for child welfare.  I was on state government committees and in leadership for our state’s Children’s Alliance. These opportunities helped me influence state policies for child welfare and influence services for children across our state.

What gifts were you able to bring to Maryhurst?

Leadership, perseverance, courage to overcome the challenges, and struggles – the operational, financial challenges of the agency as well as continuing to rise to address the ever increasing challenges of the children in order to serve those with the greatest needs.

You have touched many lives in a way that seems to have fulfilled your life’s purpose. How would you sum up your many years at Maryhurst?

Theologian F. Buechner said (paraphrased) that God’s will for our life is where our deepest joy and the world’s great need intersect.  That for me is what Maryhurst has been, and is, for my life.

The Senate of the General Assembly of Kentucky honored you upon retirement from Maryhurst and thanked you for your service on behalf of Kentucky’s children and families. How did this make you feel?

To be recognized by state legislators whom I have worked with for years advocating for children was a great, great honor.

How would you define your relationship with Sisters of the Good Shepherd?

I have loved every minute working for and with the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.  There are many relationships with Sisters that will remain very, very special to me.

You initiated a campaign to erect an historic marker for Good Shepherd in Louisville, near the site of the original Maryhurst building. What motivated you to do this?

It was 2018, Maryhurst’s 175th anniversary for serving in Louisville.

What legacy do you hope to have left at Maryhurst? What will you miss most?

Leading in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd is the legacy I hope I left behind. What I will miss most about Maryhurst are the people I worked with and seeing the difference we make in the lives of children and families.

What else would you like to say about your experience at Maryhurst?

I have loved being a part of making a difference in the lives of children and  adolescents who need hope and healing from the trauma that they have experienced from abuse. I have had the great gift and opportunity to help change the trajectory of the most marginalized children in the state.

Is there anything Saint Mary Euphrasia said in her lifetime that inspires you today?

“You have a sacred, precious jewel confided to you. It is our holy institute you carry in your arms, in your person. Show it to the world, to everyone, in all its beauty. Our institute was founded through love. We have all been drawn to it through love. It is love which keeps us here.”

What plans do you have now that you are retired?

I will continue to do work with some of our donors at Maryhurst and will volunteer in any capacity where they need me. I plan to travel and spend more time with family. I will be volunteering at my church. Many members of the Good Shepherd family have become my family and friends and we are in touch on an ongoing basis.

Who will succeed you as CEO of Maryhurst?

Paula Garner has a deep devotion to the values and mission and her many talents and skills for leadership made her the best candidate to succeed me as CEO.

The mission of Maryhurst is to serve children and families in Kentucky who have the greatest needs for hope and healing. Maryhurst is a multi-service continuum of care. The agency provides residential treatment for adolescent girls who have experienced the most significant childhood trauma, most from abuse and neglect.  Maryhurst’s community services provide therapeutic care to children, adults, and families through counseling and support services to keep or return children safely to their homes.

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Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website veganstoryteller.com