She was a flight attendant who became the first female manager of the airline that hired her.

When a start-up named FedEx hired her as their first female executive, she grew their service network from 43 locations to 173 while leading a team of 23,000 employees.

She was a turn-around artist brought in to transform enterprise after struggling enterprise.

She was the author of numerous articles on leadership plus a popular book on the power of integrity in business—Truth, Inc.

She was a dedicated teacher and adjunct professor at the University of California, where she lectured on business management.

She was a successful entrepreneur and consultant who taught other companies how to thrive.

She was the in-demand member of multiple boards and a founding member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

She was a gay woman who lived true to herself in a committed relationship with her life partner, Nancy.

She was tough, funny, immensely hard-working... and she was my mentor.

Judith A. Rogala was one of the first ladies of logistics—so often, the only woman in the room when decisions were made that ended up shaping the future of transportation and the supply chain. Because she was skilled at getting the people who worked for her to succeed, Judith paved the way for other women to follow her into these and other fields.

I was one of the women that she inspired. Judith very much believed in investing in people. “We need to care more about each other,” she said once in an interview. “We have so many people who don’t know how good they are, what talents they have. A lot of my leadership is about developing the individual—really, for them, but everyone else gets to benefit as well.”

I got to know Judith through the Committee of 200, a non-profit dedicated to supporting women business leaders in Chicago. If you were in Judith’s presence, she never stopped coaching, sometimes with stunning directness but also with a grin and a twinkle in her eye. Yet she also knew how to take charge of a fractious meeting with good will and drive the group quickly and cleanly to consensus. Early in my business career she taught me about guts and courage and know-how.

It's typical of Judith that she gave the credit for her success to her mother and father. “My parents really made me believe that you can be whoever you want to be,” she said. “And that’s what I learned from them: You have to believe in yourself. I know that if I do my best, I'll probably win more than I lose.”

Judith showed everyone who worked with her that women have a gift for leadership. She believed it, she taught it, and she lived it in how she risked and how she invested. For that, Judith Rogala, from me and the many other women you inspired—thanks always.

Judith A. Rogala Bio

The Catapult Factor
President and Principal

Aramark Uniform Services
1997–1999 and 2000–2003

La Petite Academy

Office Depot
Executive Vice President

EQ, The Environmental Quality Company
CEO & President

Flagship Express, Inc.

Multiple roles culminating in Senior VP – Central Support Services

Trans World Airlines
Regional Manager, Labor Relations