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National Geographic Pledges to Remember Beloved Employees

Article - Sunday, April 2, 2006

In April the National Geographic Society pledged $300,000 to the Pentagon Memorial Fund in memory of two employees killed on Flight 77 in the attack on the Pentagon the morning of September 11, 2001. James Joe Ferguson, 39, was the Director of Geography Outreach for the National Geographic Society and had been working for National Geographic for almost 15 years. Ann Judge, 49, was the Manager of the National Geographic Travel Office, where she had been employed for over twenty years.

Ferguson and Judge were traveling together with three eleven-year-old sixth graders from the Washington, DC area and their teachers on a "Sustainable Seas" expedition to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary near Santa Barbara, California. Rodney Dickens and his teacher, James Debeuneure, were from Ketcham Elementary School; Bernard Brown and his teacher, Hilda Taylor, represented Leckie Elementary School; and Asia Cottom and her teacher, Sarah Clark, came from Backus Middle School.

"Through our educational outreach program, Ann and Joe were going to make geography and the environment come alive for these committed, talented teachers and their star students by putting them into the field with scientists and researchers," said John Fahey Jr., the Society's President and CEO.

National Geographic has pledged to support the Pentagon Memorial Fund since the Fund's inception and is joined by other corporate and private Memorial Unit Sponsors such as Bearing Point, Inc., Edward and Lois Brennan, and the Philip L. Graham Fund of The Washington Post. A donation of $150,000 approximates the construction and life time maintenance cost each of the 184 benches in the Memorial Park, one for each person killed in the attack on the Pentagon.

Betty Hudson, Senior Vice President of Communications for National Geographic, attended the meeting during which the design of the Memorial Units was first unveiled, and she hopes to attend the groundbreaking for the Pentagon Memorial on June 15. "Joe and Ann were two very special people," Hudson said. "We will never forget them, and it is fitting and appropriate that they be remembered in this way, in this place."

In addition to supporting plans for the Pentagon Memorial, National Geographic ( has created an endowment to honor the lives of Joe Ferguson and Ann Judge. The Ferguson Judge Fund is currently supporting educational programs like Photocamp, which sponsors photojournalism trips for aspiring young photographers.

For information on becoming a Memorial Unit sponsor, please contact Wendy Drake or Andrew Ammerman at 202-237-0327, or by email at [email protected].