July 20, 2006
by JUDY HODGSON
I walked over to Sue Goss at the farewell reception last week, hugged her and said, "I'm really not happy about this." She said she understood, but that it was a good move for them at this time as a family.
It's one of the many, many things I admire about Sue's life partner and co-parent, Casey Crabill, who is leaving the North Coast after a very successful seven-year tenure as president of College of the Redwoods: Casey's a good mom, too, on top of everything else.
The first time I met Casey was during one of her "listening" sessions in 1999. I remember I was too tired, wanting to just head home after work over the hill to Fieldbrook, but instead I stopped by a half-empty classroom at McKinleyville High School. I walked in to find this very short, round, intelligent, young woman with dark hair and no makeup. I remember her sweet face, quick smile and almost a sense of shyness. Almost.
Casey did a lot of listening that night about how and why people use the community college, what they liked about it and what they didn't. She continued to meet with people throughout the entire district during that first year. Then she went to work.
Left to right: Casey Crabill, Patty Berg, Wes Chesbro.
It has been reported many times that Casey inherited an institution led by an administration under siege and a faculty afraid to open their mouths. Casey wanted to hear what they had to say. And she particularly wanted to hear from the students about how to improve their own school and its relevance to their lives and futures.
What she accomplished in the years since has been well documented. It was the equivalent of turning around a 200-foot ship at sea, very slowly. Casey actually reminds me of a sturdy tugboat, deceptively powerful, with a firm, clear sense of direction.
Assemblymember Patty Berg and State Sen. Wesley Chesbro were more eloquent when they read Casey's proclamation of gratitude, citing her "results-oriented vision and masterful leadership."
The proclamation also acknowledged and thanked Casey's partner, Sue, and their 12-year-old daughter Katie, whom we have watched grow into a wonderful young girl. And in turn, Casey thanked this community for welcoming her family so openly these past seven years.
She'll be a tough act to follow.
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