—Judy Galbraith, founder and president of Free Spirit Publishing
As a former classroom teacher and specialist in gifted education, Judy Galbraith recognized a clear need for books to help children and teens navigate life’s challenges. Judy founded Free Spirit Publishing in 1983 becoming the first publisher to focus on self-help materials to help young people lead better lives. Her first books, and the first titles for Free Spirit Publishing, grew out of her master’s thesis paper, and they’re still in print today . . . The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guides (for ages 10 & under and for teens).
Not having a business or publishing background, Judy learned about growing Free Spirit the hard way. “I always tell people that I’ve done just about everything wrong . . . once. I’m a strong believer in the importance of persistence in the face of challenges. With every mistake or bad thing that might happen in our lives, there’s always, always an opportunity to learn, improve, and grow. By modeling this mindset for children and teens through our actions and through resources such as the ones we create at Free Spirit, we can help young people do and be their best in all areas of their lives. I grew up around books, and I firmly believe they have the power to inspire, inform, and transform.”
Judy is proud of the accolades Free Spirit books consistently garner from professionals, but she says, “How do we know our books really work? The letters from our readers. Almost every day we receive fan mail about how our books have helped someone. Those letters make it easy for us to stay true to our mission, which is to provide children and teens—and the adults who care about them—with the tools they need to overcome challenges and make a difference in the world.”
In addition to the Gifted Kids’ Survival Guides, Judy is the coauthor of When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs; What Kids Need to Succeed: Proven, Practical Ways to Raise Good Kids; and What Teens Need to Succeed: Proven, Practical Ways to Shape Your Own Future.
Judy served ten years on the Board of Directors of Search Institute, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to advancing the well-being of children and adolescents. From 2007–2010, she was a member of Minnesota 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees. In 1996, Galbraith received the E. Paul Torrance Creativity Award; in 2004, she was named the Midwest Publisher of the Year; in 2011, she was awarded with the California Association for the Gifted (CAG) Ruth A. Martinson Award; in 2012, she was awarded the Friend of the Gifted award by the Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented for her sustained advocacy on behalf of gifted children; and in 2015, she was awarded the Global Awareness Network Annemarie Roeper Award. She has appeared on Oprah and been featured in Family Circle and Family Life, as well as numerous other magazines, newspapers, and broadcast and online media. She is a member of the Association of Booksellers for Children, the Association of Educational Publishers, the Midwest Independent Publishers Association, and the National Association for Gifted Children.
Judy grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, received a degree in education from the University of Wisconsin at Steven’s Point, and holds a master’s degree in guidance and counseling of the gifted from Norwich University, Vermont. She is a sailor and enjoys adventure travel, reading (of course!), community activism, and taking long walks with her rescue dogs, Violet and Twiggy. Judy lives with her partner, Gary, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.