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Mayor Andrew J. Ginther
City Hall 2nd Floor
90 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Office : 614-645-7671
Email : Click to Send Email

Catherine Willis

Image of Catherine Willis

Catherine Willis

A dedicated community activist for many years, Catherine supported education, the artsf, and family advocacy. She has been involved in The United Negro College Fund, a founding member of Friends of Art for Community Enrichment, The Ohio Wesleyan University Upward Bound program. She was a member of the SOUL committee which helped promote art from the National Afro American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce University .

A former Columbus City Schools teacher, her focus on education  led her to become an active volunteer, supporter and Board member of I Know I Can, a program that guarantees every Columbus City Schools student an  opportunity to attend college,

She initiated The Chess in the Neighborhood program at the M.L.King Library and was asked to extend the program to other sites.

Catherine is a former member of the Columbus Medical Association Foundation. As a long time trustee and past president of the Columbus Youth Foundation, Catherine worked with other board members to seek out innovative after school and summer camp educational and enrichment programs for young people from urban communities .

In 1997, She was a co-founder with the late Thelma Givens as retired teachers, The Lunch Bunch, which is the sponsor of  The Helen Jenkins Davis Scholarship  Fund. The organization is  composed of community women who have awarded from personal donations more than $140.000.00 to more than 145 African American graduating seniors from Columbus City Schools .

Her most recent endeavor was to create and participate in forming an urban strings youth orchestra growing from 2 youth in 2007 to approximately 35 youth string musicians ages 11 to 18.

Partial listing of her awards and accolades include,

YWCA Women Of Achievement (1992), 

Julian Sinclair Celebration of Learning Award from Columbus Metropolitan Library(2000)

Montessori Champion of Children Award as an advocate, mentor (2002)

Columbus Public Schools  Golden Ruler Award (2003)

Honoring Your Elders Award, along with other outstanding community elders, presented by Senator Ray Miller (2006)

Catherine was selected a Capital Women of Distinction, one of 18 women in Columbus who is a leader in philanthropy and volunteerism and has shaped the future of the community and made it a better place to live. This award was sponsored by The United Way, The Columbus Metropolitan Club, The Woman’s Fund and The YWCA (2012)

She has received the Jefferson Award (twice) 1985 and 2015

Inducted into the Central Ohio Senior Hall of Fame (2015)

Greater Columbus Arts Council, Community Arts Partnership Award Arts Educator (2016)

The Columbus Symphony Music Educator Award (2019)

The Harrison Sayre Award presented by the Board of The Columbus Foundation (2020)

Catherine is a 50+years ,member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and am alumna member of Twin Rivers Chapter of The Links. She is a member of St Philip Lutheran Church, having served on Church Council and the Worship committee.

She wants to be remembered as” someone who made a difference in the life of a child”.