Judith Gardner Ainlay was born and raised in the upper Midwest. She received her B.A. degree from Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, and a Masters of Social Work degree in Social Policy & Aging from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Her early working years were in non-profit administration, primarily aging services. For the twelve years prior to her relocation to Schenectady, New York in 2006, she served as coordinator of an undergraduate, interdisciplinary and intercollegiate academic program in gerontology studies. This program was a cooperative effort of a consortium of five colleges in Worcester, Massachusetts. She also served as the managing editor of a quarterly, peer-reviewed academic journal, Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, which covered issues of interest to educators in the aging field.
Mrs. Ainlay is a member of the board of directors of Proctors Theatre, the board of directors of the Heritage Home, and the auxiliary board of the Boys and Girls Club of Schenectady. She is the spouse of Stephen Charles Ainlay, President of Union College. They are parents of: Jesse, an attorney in Boston, daughter-in-law Jaclyne, a teacher in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and son Jonathan, who works at Arizona State University's Gammage Center in Phoenix, Arizona.