Ms. Betty J. Ford is the Program Coordinator for Chocolate Storytime. She assists with organizing special programs, which includes booking students, special guests, community members, and local celebrities; coaching and rehearsing talent; helping children memorize and theatrically recite poetry; marketing and fundraising; and coordinating media coverage. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Ms. Ford graduated from Point Loma High School in San Diego, California and from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music and English.
At 7 years old, Ms. Ford began taking music lessons twice a week. She was trained by her parochial school teacher, and at 9 years of age, she was playing the electrical pump organ for an 80-member Catholic church choir. Ms. Ford also played for secular dances, like the Polka, Irish Set Dance, and Virginia Reels. She says, “You did it because you could.” For 26 years, under the leadership of Pastor Stuart York of Rosemead Christian Church, Ms. Ford served as musician. You can still find her coordinating musical events at the Altadena Library for the National Association of Negro Musicians (NANM),of which she is a member. Ms. Ford continues entertain on the piano at various community events, including the Pasadena Senior Center as a volunteer.
While a musician and freelance writer for various magazines and newspapers, Ms. Ford was previously a business owner and successfully managed large budgets and garnered loyal clientele. Her academic preparation, work experience, artistic talents, and entrepreneurial spirit coupled with her extraordinary creativity set the foundation for her eclectic calling.
For decades, Ms. Ford has mentored and worked with youth on topics from stage presence to leadership preparation. An arts and humanities competition coach, community talent agent and entertainment etiquette trainer, Ms. Ford utilizes her “winning strategies” system with young people between the ages 8 to 20. She is currently an academic tutor at Aspires West, Pasadena and often works collaboratively with the La Pintoresca Branch Library; National Association of University Women, South Bay Chapter; Martin Luther King Community Coalition; NAACP ACT-SO Awards, San Gabriel and Pasadena branches; and the Alkebulan Cultural Center. She also refers deserving students for scholarships and grants, and gives of her own money as well.
Named Poet Laureate of San Gabriel Valley in 2006, Ms. Ford has been a featured poet in publications such as the Journal and the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) Calendar. She is asked to write poetry for many celebrations and special events and periodically gives poetry symposiums to community groups and schools in the Altadena and Pasadena area. She trains students in writing poetry and subsequently submits exemplar work for publishing in community publications. Enjoying sharing her poetry and song lyrics to music, Ms. Ford also participates in open mic and poetry jam sessions.
Very active in her community, over the years, Ms. Ford has held membership and leadership positions in many organizations. She is a Golden Soror, with lifetime membership, of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and a member of the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI); National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. (NANM), Altadena Branch (previous scholarship chair); Pasadena Branch NAACP (previous secretary); Altadena Branch NAACP; Aspires West, Pasadena; National Council of Negro Women (NCNW); Jackie Robinson Center Senior Citizens; Pasadena Black History Celebration Planning Committee; Friends of the Altadena Library; and The Women’s Prayer Group of San Marino.
Ford received recognition and awards from Zeta Phi Beta Finer Womanhood Awards; Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. of Altadena; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Western Region; National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Pomona, California and the Human Relations Commission, City of Pasadena. In 2008, Nat Nehdar, Human Relations Commissioner, and Pasadena mayor presented a Council Minutes Certificate of Appreciation to Ms. Ford for her longtime dedication to the city through a wide range of community service. Ms. Ford is a member of both the Altadena and Pasadena branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was presented with the Pasadena NAACP’s highest honor, the Ruby McKnight Williams Award, in 2012.
Strengthened by her remarkable memory of dates and community history, Ms. Ford is known as the Rosa Parks of Pasadena for her political advocacy and commitment to social justice. She has a heart for the homeless, and participated in a weekly ministry of St. Stephen Baptist Church of La Puente, California serving food to people on Skid Row for a little over a year and a half. A member of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church of Altadena, Ms. Ford utilizes her gifts and talents to mentor and motivate individuals to become their best possible selves, in all areas of their lives. She says, “Dreams have wings, greatness lies within each of us, and hope is very much alive and well.”