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Keiths honored by League with Ruth Ordway Award

Jim and Sue Keith received the Ruth Ordway Award, which is presented annually by the local League of Women Voters to a community member or members who work mightily, as Ruth did, to promote the common good. 

The Keiths moved to south Claremont in the early 1970s, when Jim, after earning an engineering degree from Stanford University, accepted a position at Kaiser Steel Corporation in Fontana. Sue, who grew up in rural Lassen County and graduated from California State University East Bay, soon became involved in community life. As they raised their family, their interests in local happenings and organizations grew. Among other things, they noticed a bit of a divide between northern and southern portions of the city, and became champions of south Claremont.

Not long after coming to Claremont, Ms. Keith joined the League and served as board director for housing and childcare. As her daughters went through the local school system, she became more interested in public education and, in 1986, was elected to the Claremont Unified School District board of education. She served on the board for 12 years, twice taking her turn as president, as well as serving on the Baldy View Regional Occupational Program Commission. Most recently, Ms. Keith was chair of a League committee to study higher education in California.

These experiences heightened her interest in higher education. In 1999, she was elected to the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees, a position she holds to this day. Ms. Keith was elected to the board of directors of the California Community College Trustees in 2013. She is an advocate for student access to community college education and in her spare time has campaigned for community college funding in statewide elections. Ms. Keith has also worked as a fund developer for local organizations Uncommon Good, Project Sister and House of Ruth. 

A spending 12 years with Kaiser Corporation, Mr. Keith went on to become factory manager and then vice president and general manager of the HON company, a manufacturer and distributor of office furniture. Since his retirement, he has spent much of his time on two local programs—Claremont After-School Programs (CLASP) and the Committee for Safe and Healthy Housing. Mr. Keith is CLASP’s program coordinator and also serves as a site supervisor at a local apartment complex meeting room, where elementary age children come three afternoons a week to get help with school work from volunteer tutors.

The Claremont Committee for Safe and Healthy Housing was formed to address conditions in local apartment complexes, especially some in south Claremont. Mr. Keith is chair of the committee, which joined with city staff to form the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program to work with property owners, managers and renters to eliminate illegal activity. The program includes training apartment managers and residents on how to make rental units safer. In addition to his work with the crime-free housing project, Mr. Keith served as a member of the city’s ad hoc committee to make recommendations on a new police facility.