Friday, September 29, 2017

Civic leadership award presented to Bill and Judy Garrett

Judy and Bill Garrett
A new award honoring individuals who have made notable contributions to the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and the East County community was presented last night to El Cajon residents Bill and Judy Garrett.

The recognition, named the Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award, was presented to the Garretts to honor their leadership on district boards and their financial support of Grossmont and Cuyamaca College students.

“The Garretts have given tremendously of their time and their money, but most importantly their wisdom and leadership, to the college district,” said Chancellor Cindy L. Miles. “The contributions that Bill and Judy have made change lives every day around this college district.”

Bill Garrett has served on the district’s Governing Board since 2004, when he was appointed to fill a vacant seat. He has been re-elected three times and has served as board president for 10 years.

“Bill has helped the board and district focus on what’s most important – and that’s student success and service to our community,” Miles said. “This district is the best it’s ever been, in large part because of Bill’s leadership.” 

Garrett first became involved with the college district in 1996, when he moved to El Cajon for a job as city manager. He served on the Cuyamaca College Foundation for eight years, including five years as president. He also served on the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, which oversaw bond construction spending, until he was appointed to the Governing Board.

Bill Garrett’s wife, Judy, has also played an active role in the college district. Beginning in 2007, she served on both the Cuyamaca College and Grossmont College foundations. When the two foundations merged in 2011, she served for three years as president of the newly-formed Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges.

Rob Nolan of the East County Schools Federal Credit Union, now chair of the foundation’s board of directors, praised Judy Garrett’s professionalism and skill as foundation president.

“She has a much broader view of things,” Nolan said. “She has a way of working you down the road to where we should be. She provides information so all the sudden we realize what we should do, which was her path from the very beginning.”

In addition to their service to the district, the Garretts also funded two scholarships, one at each college, honoring Judy’s father, Reynold Stone, a community college instructor. The scholarships were created during a campaign by the Bernard Osher Foundation to provide matching dollars to donated monies so that the scholarships could continue in perpetuity. Each year, a student at Grossmont College and another student at Cuyamaca College receives one of the Garretts’ scholarships.

They have also supported the theater and music programs at the colleges, and other initiatives such as an emergency scholarship for students who face a financial crisis. The Garretts have also been enthusiastic backers of the Higher Edge Promise scholarship, which will provide a free year at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges for Grossmont Union High School graduates beginning with the class of 2019.

In addition to their service and philanthropic efforts, the Garretts have also built connections with promising Grossmont and Cuyamaca College students. Zack Gianino, Grossmont College’s student representative on the Governing Board from 2013-2015, recalled the relationship he developed with Garrett.

“He cared about not just my concerns, but the concerns of the students I represented,” Gianino said. “I felt open and free to speak my mind to him.”

The award was presented to the Garretts at an event Thursday night honoring the major donors to the district foundation. It is planned to become an annual award honoring others who have given exemplary service to the district and community.

“The contributions that Bill and Judy have made are changing lives every day at the college district,” Miles said. “We are blessed and truly grateful for their dedication to our college students.”