Cathy Richards, Atlanta’s APAB Chair, 1948-2016, !Presente! (UPDATE 2)
Updated with birth date and viewing information below.
(APN) ATLANTA — Cathy Richards, Chair of the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board (APAB), who has been a civil leader in Atlanta for some 35 years, has passed away, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
Richards, who was 67 and worked for Emory Healthcare, devoted her spare time to making sure that the citizens of Atlanta had a voice in city government.
“Cathy Richards was one of the most loyal community leaders that I have ever met,” Jennifer Freeman, who, by operation of the by-laws, is now the new Chair of APAB, told APN.
“She loved Atlanta, and she was extremely smart and brilliant and good at everything she did. She knew the City and Fulton County business very well, she was able to articulate the goal and mission of APAB,” Freeman said.
“She was a willing vessel, when it came to any knowledge that she had, she didn’t mind sharing it. She embraced anyone who wanted to serve. She gave effortlessly and faithfully to APAB,” Freeman said.
“She set a pace that is going to be hard to match and that’s going to encompass a lot of things… as much of a skill level that she had and the managerial skills that she had. A lot of people have those skills, but they don’t implement them in the same pace as she had,” Ben Howard, former APAB Chair, told APN.
“It’s going to take a team of people to figure out everything that she did,” Howard said.
Richards received her formal education at Clark Atlanta University and Georgia State University.
She served as chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit H.
She served as past PTA President at Miles Elementary School and Usher Middle School, and President of the Atlanta Council of PTAs.
In addition, she served on the Board of Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, and various ministries at Ben Hill United Methodist Church.
When APN’s News Editor was in litigation with the City of Atlanta to open up the Council’s seven Committee Briefings to the public, APAB’s Committee on Committee on Council passed a resolution asking Councilwoman Felicia Moore for the agendas of the Briefings.
APN communicated with Richards about the issue, and Richards was very clear about what the organization had voted to do, and in carrying out the request. Richards discussed with APN the issue of the Committee Briefings at length. The Council opened up the Briefings to the public in 2013 as a matter of ordinance.
“Cathy Richards has demonstrated love of neighborhood and community consistently, like no one else I can think of. For 35 years, being committed to improving your community and being a voice in your community, is something we ought to learn from, and our prayers are with her family,” Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens (Post 3 at large) told APN.
She was “just a really good leader, the stuff she did with APAB was amazing, just keeping that organization steady, with a lot of different factions, and a lot of different needs and wants,” Ray Abram, former Chair of NPU R, told APN.
“She had a strong heady hand at the helm that allowed people to work together that would normally been at each others’ throats. She kept the organization together and moving forward,” Abram said.
“I served with her on the Atlanta Council of PTA’s, that’s when I met her, and that was in the late 1990s,” former APAB Chair Drewnell Thomas told APN.
“I remember working with her on the legislative agenda for the Atlanta Council for the PTAs, and she was very detail oriented then,” Thomas said.
“When I was President of APAB, she was our corresponding secretary. One of the things she took on was to create to a newsletter. That was great because it was a way of getting information out to the NPUs,” Thomas said.
“It was her way to communicate events that were going on,” Thomas said.
“She continued some of the training things that we had been working on, and some of the events, and getting people to be involved. Those are things that had started during Barney Simms’s and my administrations, and she continued those and made those as annual activities and recognizing people from the neighborhoods,” Thomas said.
“One of the things, I think coming from the educational perspective, she brought that focus into the committee structure of ABAB,” Thomas said, noting that in addition to seven APAB committees mirroring the City Council’s seven committees, APAB also has a standing education committee.
“It wasn’t a standing Cmte of APAB, now it is,” she said.
“She was also interested in the rights of people to vote,” Thomas said.
“It hit me hard when I heard,” Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9) told APN.
“She’s just such a great leader, particularly as I watched her lead APAB. She knew how to run a meeting. She respected everybody. She cared about the citizens as well as the City. Her solid leadership is going to be missed,” Moore said.
“She was able to make sure everybody felt that they were heard, but good at keeping things on task and getting to a conclusion,” Moore said.
“I saw her getting through issues people were very passionate about,” Moore said.
“She was doing community service work before it was an in thing,” education advocate Raynard Johnson said.
“I called her Ms. Adamsville,” Johnson said, referring to Atlanta’s Adamsville neighborhood.
“The City is better when citizens engage and Cathy’s leadership and commitment will be missed in Atlanta,” Anna Foote, APAB’s liaison to the Atlanta Development Authority (“Invest Atlanta”), said in a statement prepared for APN.
UPDATE 1: Updated with her age. Her birth date was September 21, 1948.
Viewing and Celebration of Life Memorial Services for Mrs. Cathy J. Richards
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
1:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Murray Brothers Funeral Home Cascade Chapel
1199 Utoy Springs Road, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30331
Celebration of Life Memorial Services
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Ben Hill United Methodist Church
2099 Fairburn Road, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30331
She was an awesome individual. A great leader who brought out the best in those around her. She taught me so much. She taught me how to teach others. Her loss will be felt in this city for a long time. She was a great person.
The Baton has been passed; the Legacy is ours to nourish – or not.