Retiring Chester County Planning Commission board member Judy DiFilippo has roots deep in planning and serving others.
A Bangor, Maine native, Judy moved to Montgomery County in 1966 to study nursing at Lankenau Hospital School of Nursing. After graduation, Judy worked in the Lankenau Hospital Surgical Intensive Care Unit until her daughter, Rena, was born.
“Now, when people find out about my background in nursing, I say I am still taking care of people – just in a different way,” Judy said with a smile.
Judy moved to Chester County in 1972 when she and her husband, Luigi, were married and purchased a home in Easttown Township. They moved to Chesterbrook in Tredyffrin Township in the late 1970s. It was there where she initially learned about planning since Chesterbrook was the first large planned community in Chester County. After nearly a decade of living there, Judy was appointed to serve on the Tredyffrin Township Planning Commission in 1986. Three years later, she was elected to the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, where she served until 2010. Her 20-year tenure on the township’s Board of Supervisors included four years as vice chairwoman and six years as chairwoman.
Judy also served on the executive committee of the Chester County Association of Township Officials (CCATO) from 2002 until 2010 and she was a board member of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust from 2004 until 2017. She is still an active board member of Chester County 2020, a position she has held since 2004, and she is the current vice chairwoman of the Board of Directors at Main Line School Night. She joined that board in 2011 and was elected chairwoman for three years before serving as vice chairwoman.
The Chester County Commissioners appointed Judy to serve as a Chester County Planning Commission board member in April 2002 – a position she held until her retirement last month. She served as chairwoman of the board from January 2005 to December 2014 and she was co-chair of the committee that focused on updating the county’s comprehensive plan in 2009.
Judy recalled one year when she was particularly busy. In 2007, she was chairwoman of the CCATO executive committee (the first woman elected to that position), chairwoman of the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors, chairwoman of the Chester County Planning Commission board, and co-chair of Tredyffrin 300, the township’s tercentennial. She attributed her success to the support she received from the staff, fellow board members, and volunteers at each of those organizations.
Judy said her most memorable projects at the Planning Commission were updates to the county’s comprehensive plan known as Landscapes2 and Landscapes3. She said it was not an easy decision to leave, but the timing was right because the Chester County Commissioners adopted Landscapes3 in November 2018 and her most recent four-year term expired at the end of last year. “It’s always good to bring in fresh eyes,” she said.
She will miss seeing the “big picture” when it comes to countywide planning efforts, understanding what development goes where in Chester County, the camaraderie of the board, and the reports from the staff.
“Judy brought the municipal perspective to the Planning Commission,” said David Ward, a former longtime assistant director of the Planning Commission who also retired in December. “Her gentle demeanor and her depth of government experience made her a strong contributor to our planning program.”
And the Planning Commission is not the only place where her work will be remembered. A gazebo at the 90-acre Wilson Farm Park in Tredyffrin was named after her.
“That’s my legacy to my community,” she said of the park, which she – along with other Tredyffrin officials and stakeholders – helped to preserve as open space.
So now that Judy has retired from the Planning Commission, what will she do in her spare time?
In addition to continuing to serve on the boards of Chester County 2020 and Main Line School Night, she has expressed interest in helping with an update to the Tredyffrin Township Comprehensive Plan.
On a personal level, she plans to spend more time with her husband of 46 years, Luigi, a Navy veteran and owner of a heating and air conditioning company. Judy also will spend more time with her daughter, Rena, who followed in her mother’s footsteps in the planning realm and earned an urban and regional planning master’s degree at West Chester University. She will continue to help out with her two granddaughters, who affectionately call her “Uber Nana.” She will plan more trips to visit family in Maine. And she will continue to be a member of a small church choir and another singing group that performs two programs a year at retirement homes and veteran facilities.
At the Planning Commission board meeting in December, Judy was honored for her service and received a framed photograph of Knox Covered Bridge in Tredyffrin.
“Judy has been instrumental in helping the county achieve its goals over her 16 years of service,” said Planning Commission Board Chairman Matthew Hammond. “Her leadership as chair of the Chester County Planning Commission and involvement in both Landscapes2 and Landscapes3 have made the county what it is today. We wish her well in her future endeavors and only hope we can continue the progress that she has started.”