The 2019-2020 Board Member of the Year is Judith A. Bassford, a passionate advocate for children with special needs, who currently serves as vice president for the Clifton Board of Education and as president of the Passaic County School Boards Association.

Each year since 2005, the New Jersey School Boards Association has honored a local board of education member whose work has had a positive impact on the education of children in his or her community. An independent out-of-state panel reviews the nominations and selects the winner.

Bassford will be honored during a special ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 22 during Workshop 2019 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

In a joint statement, NJSBA President Mike McClure and Executive Director Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod praised Bassford’s commitment to public education.

“Judy exemplifies the spirit of public service and dedication to the health and well-being of public school students,” they said. “She was a founding member of Clifton PRAISE (Parents Requiring Assistance in Special Education), and she has worked tirelessly to fight drug abuse and increase graduation rates.”

Bassford has served nearly nine years on the Clifton school board. She is also vice president of CASA (Clifton Against Substance Abuse) and received the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Passaic County Volunteer of the Year award in 2018.

An active member of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, a support group for parents and guardians, she also serves in many other volunteer positions in the Clifton community, including work as a first responder.

A special education advocate, Bassford has assisted parents in learning about their rights. She has taught non-adversarial techniques to parents and guardians so they can obtain the appropriate services and accommodations for their students through collaboration.

Bassford has been married to her husband Keith for 39 years and has two adult children.

The 2019-2020 Board Member of the Year will be profiled in an upcoming issue of School Leader.