June 14, 2020

Dr. Judith Mayotte

Dr. Judith Mayotte (internationally-esteemed humanitarian, author of "Disposable People? The Plight of Refugees", and Emmy-Award winning television producer for TBS' "Portrait of America") joins Nick on the phone to share a life story that is as improbable and adventurous as it is spiritual and profound.  Born in Kansas to a Protestant family where her father didn't participate in the faith, she was sent away to a Catholic boarding school at the age of four because she was, by her own admission, "such a pill."  This unorthodox beginning would foreshadow not only a life of Catholic service, but an extraordinary journey fueled by Judy's stalwart independence, her boundless energy, her moral certitude and her enthusiasm for living.  Her life at a glance: Stricken with polio as a teenager, she learned to walk again, became a Nun, left the convent to get her doctorate at Marquette University (my alma mater), would marry and then lose her husband just three years later to cancer, would enter television, would find herself working on behalf of international refugees in Africa where a tragic accident would cost her part of her leg, would enter the US government, and finally would dedicate her life to refugee education and the danger of climate catastrophe...  It is a life full of joy and hope in the face of tragedies and bearing to witness to great suffering, and it is an inspiring tale on how to cope with, and pivot off of, life's challenges and changes.  What an honor it was to listen to her story. 


Something wild: It wasn't until after I had set up this interview (through our shared connection to Marquette University) that I realized as a student I had actually taken Dr. Mayotte's class on International Human Rights Law!   

Also, here is a link to just one of the esteemed international organizations in which Judy has played a formative role: The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation


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Music by Sean Whalen, Art by Alexandra Delano

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