American gay rights activist Judy Shepard is the mother of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old gay college student whose 1998 murder captured national attention and energized debate on hate crimes legislation. Shepard and her husband, Dennis, created the Matthew Shepard Foundation in their son's memory, but she has been the face and the voice of the organization, serving as its executive director from 1999 to 2009. She continues to serve as board president and to travel across the United States speaking passionately of the need for social justice and acceptance of diversity.

From Homemaker to Activist

Born Judy Peck in Glenrock, Wyoming, in 1952, Shepard was the daughter of the town postmaster and a post office senior clerk. While a student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, ...

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