ELIZABETH RICHARDS, '64
Elizabeth Fischer Richards, known to her friends as Libby, says that Marygrove College taught her about social justice and social responsibility.
"The fact that we should be contributing to the well-being of our broader community challenged me to think that, in addition to a teaching career, I should be making a difference through civic and political involvement," Richards says.
While at Marygrove, she was a member of the Student Council and served as the College's representative to the National Federation of Catholic College Students. After graduation, it evolved into much more. In 1980 she served as the director of the U.S. Census Office for Oakland County. This position led to a life-long career in public policy and community health issues.
Richards was asked by Governor James Blanchard to serve as his scheduler in his first gubernatorial campaign. Upon his election, she became an executive office administrator and, subsequently, human services adviser. During his second term, Richards was appointed to serve as director of legislative relations for the Department of Social Services, where she influenced state-wide policy on issues relating to housing, homelessness, mental health, and Native Americans.
In 1991 she left the department and worked on developing Smart Start, the first community-based elementary school health center in Genesee County. Smart Start became a nationally recognized model and was featured in "Together We Can," a publication produced by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education.
In addition to Richard's professional accomplishments, she has been an active volunteer, too. Over the years she has volunteered at Alternatives For Girls, the Coalition on Temporary Shelter, and Focus Hope in Detroit. She has been actively involved with the League of Women Voters for over 30 years and has served in many leadership roles. Currently she serves on the board of directors for the Father Clement Kern Foundation in Detroit and chairs the committee overseeing the grant award process.
Richards is a member of the Women and Girls Fund Advisory Council, a grant-making committee of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. She also has participated in numerous fundraising efforts such as the American Cancer Society drives, the March of Dimes, asthma walks, and she makes regular blood donations to the American Red Cross. She and her daughter Katie walked in the Avon Three-Day Breast Cancer Walk, raising $5,000 for the cause.
For the past 13 years, Richards has worked at Mott Children's Health Center, a non-profit organization that serves the health needs of children of less fortunate families in the Flint area. In this capacity she works directly with the president and its board of directors to develop outreach and communications programs for the health center.
"Libby has a way of watching over, caring for, being concerned about, keeping in touch with, and respecting the worth and dignity of all people, especially those she loves," says her friend, Susan Babel Willis '64.
"Libby has demonstrated over the years that she is not a dabbler. She is committed to anything that she's affiliated with," says friend and former classmate, Yvonne Lawrence Larabell '64.
In spite of her many professional accomplishments, Richards is still most proud of her family. "Together with my husband, I have raised two thoughtful, loving, accomplished children whose family lives are grounded in Christian values and church/community involvement," she said. "Their contributions to family, church and community is my investment in a more committed and caring society."