Judith Dullnig started Women’s Storybook Project in 2003 with only 5 volunteers and 25 books in a Texas prison. Today, the program is held in 10 prisons and has over 225 volunteers who record stories 3 to 4 times each year.
Judith is originally from New England and eventually moved to Texas where she met Jon Dullnig. She graduated from The University of Texas. She also earned her master’s in educational psychology from the University of Michigan. During those years, she explored Europe, and, when Jon was shipped out after graduating from officers’ candidate school, she followed him for 7 months from one port to another around the Mediterranean. They stayed for 2 years in Aruba, where she was offered a teaching job. Judith and Jon also resided in New York, Chicago, and Atlanta before returning to Austin in 1994. As a mother, Judith started reading books to her children when they were very little. Amelia Bedelia, Goodnight Moon and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle were family favorites.
One fateful day, Judith went to visit a friend in Louisville, Kentucky, and learned about a local program helping incarcerated moms connect to their children through books. Judith decided to dedicate her heart to providing opportunities for children to connect with their incarcerated mothers.
Early supporters included Nancy Botkin, the Hilltop Unit’s warden at the time and now a WSP board member, and Anne Mooney, who was conducting a parenting project at the Hilltop Unit in the city of Gatesville at the time. With their knowledge of prisons, they helped Judith develop the successful program it is today. Many original volunteers were recruited from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Temple Beth Shalom, Westlake Methodist Church, National Council of Jewish Women and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.
Judith continues to be involved with Women’s Storybook Project as the president of the board of directors and has won numerous accolades, including 4 Governor’s Awards for Volunteer Service. She also has served on the board of the Atlanta Symphony Junior committee and the Austin Women’s Symphony League.
Women’s Storybook Project has been featured in several national publications, such as The New York Times, Huffington Post online, Women’s Day, Oprah, and The Alcalde (U.T. Alumni magazine.) In May 2019, Judith was chosen as one of KVUE’s (Austin) Five Who Care. She continues to provide advice to many across the country who seek information on duplicating programs in their area.