Royal Oak's Citizen of the Year engages community life

October 10, 2014 | Daily Tribune

Judy Davids, Royal Oak’s new community engagement specialist, once overheard her husband tell someone that what she would like to do all day is talk about Royal Oak, in Royal Oak, to Royal Oakers.

“He’s right about that,” she said. “There’s no place I’d rather be.”

So, perhaps it’s no large surprise that Davids, a classic community-involvement overachiever, has been named Citizen of the Year by the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce.

“There is no doubt that Judy loves her city and is an outstanding example of a citizen who truly cares about the people, businesses and quality of life in Royal Oak,” Dawne Ripinski, a chamber member, said in a statement nominating Davids for the award.

Davids for years has demonstrated a cheerful skill for dealing with all kinds of people and getting involved. About a dozen years ago she started the mommy rock band The Mydols which went on to garner coverage on national television and in the Wall Street Journal and People magazine. She wrote a book in 2008 about the experience, “Rock Star Mommy,” and is now in negotiations to option the book to a major Hollywood film studio.

Davids, however, seems to find as much glitz allure in community issues as she did in her rock adventures. She worked as the local editor for Royal Oak Patch until early this year when the city hired her to handle community engagement.

“I am called on to serve the residents of Royal Oak every day,” she said. “Often people come into my office very disappointed. They remind me that while Royal Oak may be ranked as the eighth-happiest place in America, we can always do better. That’s my job — to try to make things better. So to receive this Citizen of the Year Award means so much to me. I am truly honored.”

Davids has raised two sons — Dylan, 21, and Will, 19 — while living in a now 98-year-old Royal Oak home with her husband, John, an architect. Over the years she has racked up a long list of volunteer activities in the city. Possessed with an entrepreneurial spirit — and apparently significant reserves of energy — she started and ran a successful writer’s club/student newspaper at Longfellow Elementary School, coached the Honeybees soccer team for five years until 2004, was involved in the Royal Oak High School Booster Club, conducted a memoir writing workshop for several months for cancer patients at Gilda’s Club, and volunteered at St. Mary Catholic Church.

Though her job as community engagement specialist requires to handle everything from social media, public presentations, surveys on issues, resident complaints, event promotion and media requests, Mayor Jim Ellison said she goes far beyond the job description in helping residents.

Following the massive flooding caused by the Aug. 11 rainstorm, Davids lined up volunteers and got her own hands dirty helping homeowners with flooded basements.

“She made it a personal goal to be sure than any resident that needed help ... received the help they needed,” Ellison said in statement supporting Davids as Citizen of the Year. “She coordinated all the volunteer efforts ... beyond that she personally helped at residents’ homes to help get them back on track. That, I can promise you, is not part of her job.”

Davids will join other 2014 award nominees when the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce honors them at the 67th Royal Oak Community Awards banquet, set for 6-9 p.m. Oct. 21 at Emagine Theater.

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