Engaging Judy Davids wins Citizen of Year award

Royal Oak employee helped residents clean up after flood

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published October 22, 2014

 City of Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids is the 2014 Citizen of the Year.  In addition to working in her City Hall office, Judy often is seen about town.

City of Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids is the 2014 Citizen of the Year. In addition to working in her City Hall office, Judy often is seen about town.

Photo by Victoria Mitchell

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ROYAL OAK — Judy Davids has always been a constant in the Royal Oak scene, but it wasn’t until the August floods that it became apparent her devotion reached award-winning status.

Davids’ role as the City of Royal Oak community engagement specialist requires her to take phone calls from residents, which were voluminous during the Aug. 11 storms, but there is nothing in her job description that states she must roll up her sleeves and go to residents’ homes and personally clean up their flooded basements.

That is exactly what Davids did, though.

“I ended up cleaning about 10 people’s basements,” she said. “Those people were so grateful and thankful. … I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Her sons may not agree, as she dragged them along when residents called on her personal cellphone during the weekend not knowing what to do.

These actions prompted Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison to pen a letter nominating Davids, 54, for 2014 Citizen of the Year.

“I think where she really displayed the ability to get the job done was during the flood crisis,” Ellison said. “She defines what a good citizen is.”

Davids won the honor and was scheduled to be recognized during the 67th annual Royal Oak Community Awards Oct. 21, hosted by the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce at the Emagine Theatre.

“I tell everybody. I’m so, so, so proud,” Davids said. “I don’t think anybody has been so happy to be Citizen of the Year.”

Davids accepted the job as community engagement specialist in April with a feeling of gratitude and life preparedness. Judy’s life experiences of advocating to save Tigers Stadium in her 30s, forming the nationally acclaimed rock group the Mydols in her 40s, writing the book “Rock Star Mommy: My Life as a Rocker Mom” and later serving as the Royal Oak Patch editor for three years perfected her résumé for the city’s new position.

“I needed all of it to have this job that is so perfect for me,” Davids said. “It’s very cool to me to have a job where people come to you. I feel really blessed to talk to Royal Oak residents every day.”

Her job with the city includes maintaining Royal Oak’s presence on social media, acting as a liaison between city government and the public, and advocating for residents and community groups.

“Judy has been a Godsend,” Ellison said.

Davids moved to Royal Oak when she was 26, fulfilling a life-long dream.

“Since I was 10 years old, I wanted to live in Royal Oak,” she said, remembering when she would take the bus from her Hazel Park childhood home with her mother for orthodontic visits. She covets that time with her mother in a city with which she instantly felt a connection. After living in Plymouth, Ann Arbor and London for a while, she finally solidified her dreams.

Judy lives in a renovated 1916 Royal Oak bungalow, which she shares with her architect husband, John; sons Dylan, 21, and Will, 19; and Victoria Ravanel-Charleta, a 16-year-old foreign exchange student from Chamonix, France, who attends Royal Oak High School.

She has spent many years heavily involved with the school district, community soccer leagues and as a parishioner at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

Through the years, Davids said she thought the city was perfect for her by chance, but she has learned in her current role that it is not a fluke.

“There are a lot of moving parts in the background that make a city where you want to live,” she said. “There is a strategy. People work very hard every day to try and make Royal Oak the best city possible.”

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