Feature Friday: Judith Kaufman

Posted on July 27, 2018

Meet Judith, a Docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation who has been a volunteer since 2010. For the last six years, she has been a Docent aboard the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, sharing her passion for architecture and city living. As a New York City native, she is no stranger to big cities, though she now much prefers to call Chicago home. Read Judith's interview below to learn more about her experience transitioning as Vice Chancellor for Advancement at Purdue to a well loved and respected Docent. 

Tell us about your most interesting job.
Before retiring I was Vice Chancellor for Advancement at Purdue.  I got to work with specialists in marketing, fundraising and alumni.

As a child, what did you want to do when you “grew up”?
I wanted to be the CEO of a large company.

What is your favorite building on the tour and why?

150 N Riverside.  The building is visually interesting, beautiful, and an engineering marvel.  It’s fun talking about it.

Tell us about a memorable experience on the job at Chicago’s First Lady Cruises.
It was a VIP private tour on the Lady Grebe. The VIP spoke no English, the translator for the VIP fell asleep.

Where did you grow up?
New York City.

What are three passions of yours?
Chicago Architecture and the city
Scuba Diving

Where in Chicago are your favorite places to….

  • Unwind – my home
  • Experience the great outdoors – the path along the lake
  • Grab a great cup of coffee/tea – Starbucks
  • Enjoy a delicious dinner – The Phoenix in Chinatown
  • Play tourist for a day (besides the cruise of course!) – go to the Shedd Aquarium

What’s something about Chicago (restaurant, activity, destination, etc) that is a “hidden gem” of yours?
Not hidden - but Wrigley Field and watching the Cubs.

What is the most adventurous thing you've ever done?
I went Diving around Coco’s Island – deep diving, lots of very large fish (and whale sharks).

What is the next destination on your travel wish list?
I’d love to go to Antarctica.

What has been your most interesting customer interaction?
I was talking to a passenger after the cruise.  He and his wife were moving to Chicago and he was looking to buy a condo.  After we spoke for a bit, I realized that I recognized his accent. He was obviously from New York City.  But it was even more specific. We attended the same high school!

What is something people are surprised to learn about you?
After college I worked at IBM as a systems engineer.  I am conversant in Cobol, Fortran, Assembly, and can actually “wire boards.”

What is your favorite part about being a docent? 
Meeting people from around the world.