In Sacramento, Assemblymember Chris Holden honored several local women of distinction.
By Justina Michael
The Woman of Distinction Award was given to one woman in each of the cities of the 41st Assembly District to commemorate Women’s History Month. Other recipients of the award include Juanita West-Tillman (Altadena), Cher Ofstedahl (Claremont), Chief Colleen Flores (La Verne), Maritza Flores-Travanti (Monrovia), Elizabeth McSwain (Rancho Cucamonga), Marilyn Sparks (San Dimas), Bertha Aguirre (Sierra Madre) and Kim Anthony (Upland).
Billings is the director of the South Pasadena Public Library. Her appointment as acting director came in the second half of 2019, following the retirement of longtime library director Steve Fjeldsted. She was officially confirmed as library director on November 20, 2019.
Billings holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington and she has over 30 years of experience in library science. She has worked at the New York-based Center for Fiction, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and a nuclear research facility library in Switzerland. Before joining the South Pasadena Public Library, she worked as the Senior Library, Arts and Culture Supervisor for the Brand Library and Art Center in Glendale. Before she was appointed as director, Billings served as the South Pasadena library’s associate director from 2017 – 2019.
Billings helped to establish an upgraded public catalog interface, new public computer workstations, new Summer Reading Program software, a Facebook page, a new public service desk, and a self-check kiosk. South Pasadena Public Library was able to brave through the COVID-19 pandemic with the aid of a new mobile app and a no-contact checkpoint which provided quick and easy access to the library’s contents while its doors remained closed.
Cathy Billings showed passion for the development and empowerment of the South Pasadena community. In recent years, the community has witnessed several progressive collaborations between the public library and the rest of the city.
– A trio of brilliant stained-glass windows, which overlook the Morton Bay Fig “Library Tree”, was created by local glass artist Tim Carey in conjunction with Judson Studios. They were publicly unveiled as a tribute to mark the centennial of world-renowned author, Ray Bradbury.
– During the pandemic, Billings and other library staff worked with Public Works to install a hand-washing station and an ADA-accessible porta-potty in the Library Park, after recognizing that closing the library could constitute some problems for some patrons; particularly those who were homeless.
– On April 7, 2021, the library teamed up with Woman’s Club to host the “Reading Your Way Through Absolutely Everything That Comes Your Way” program.
– In January 2021, the library made its significant digital collection accessible to South Pasadena High School students through the school’s reading app, Sora. It has been particularly valuable in light of the effects of the COVID – 19 pandemic on local schools.
Women of Distinction
According to Holden, “The 2022 Women of Distinction are dedicated leaders who improve the lives of thousands of individuals and families in the 41st Assembly District and beyond. They demonstrate the power of giving to others and community empowerment. I am honored to be amongst a high caliber of professionals.”
Previous recipients of this award from South Pasadena are:
- Marina Khubesrian, M.D., Environment & Public Health Advocate, South Pasadena Mayor Pro Tem, 2018.
- Laura Farber, Tournament of Roses 2020 President, 2019.
- Diane Cullinane, MD, Co-founder Professional Child Development Associates, 2019.
- Lissa Reynolds, SPARC founder, 2020.
Justina Michael is a freelance writer living in the San Gabriel Valley.
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