WATERTOWN — The former deputy garrison commander at Fort Drum and recipient of the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service award in 2010 will receive the 2019 Athena Award.
The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that it will present the award to Judith L. Gentner at a formal dinner on Sept. 4 at the Hilton Garden Inn. The chamber presents the award annually to someone recognized for professional excellence, providing valuable community service and actively helping women realize their full leadership potential.
In addition to achieving professional accolades and serving for a number of organizations, Ms. Gentner has also mentored other women, some of whom have become leaders in the Watertown community. The chamber called Mrs. Gentner a “woman leader who is also a leader of women.”
“When I began my position with the (Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization), I knew nothing of army leadership, yet my mission required me to engage army leadership to the highest levels in meaningful and sometimes uncomfortable ways. Judy was a quiet force helping me to navigate the waters,” said Watertown YMCA CEO Denise K. Young, who nominated Mrs. Gentner for the award. “The FDRHPO would not be the organization it is today if Judy Gentner had not opened her door and her ear to me those years ago. Imagine my delight when I discovered Judy serving on the YMCA Board. Today when I have a difficult conundrum, it is Judy Gentner who I want to speak with about it.”
Mrs. Gentner served as deputy garrison commander, the highest-ranking civilian position, for 14 years from 1997 to 2011. She and her workforce, which at one time accounted to 1,500 civilian employees, waded through challenges presented by growth at the base and worked hard to support soldiers and their families. She played a key role in developing on- and off-post housing.
Mrs. Gentner has also served with other organizations, including Jefferson Community College, the Watertown Urban Mission, the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, the YMCA and more.
“As a young leader, Judy started out as someone I simply admired and quickly became a mentor,” said FDRHPO Executive Director Erika F. Flint in a statement. “Judy has shed light and perspective, she has opened doors, and she has provided clear direction when navigation as a leader can be difficult.”