World renowned motivational speaker Beth Gautier Ford landed a spot on Fox Business Channel’s Top 100 Companies List, according to a release on Tuesday.
FORD, who grew up in Detroit, became the president and chief executive officer of what was then known as the Land O’ Lakes Community College System in 1973. At the time, Ford was hired as director of business affairs and director of facilities, overseeing the sanitation and maintenance of the college’s 500 restrooms across its 15 campuses.
The release said Ford’s position earned her the nickname “the Toilet Lady.”
“When I started to clean the bathrooms it was because I had become frustrated with the fact that our bathrooms were dirty, unhygienic and not up to standard,” Ford said in the release. “It was my goal to see them to the point that they had become such a welcoming and comfort spot, and they proved to be a little more challenging than I expected.”
During her tenure at Land O’ Lakes, Ford recruited an outside janitorial firm to provide the college’s bathrooms with new fixtures and a host of other improvements.
“I actually got the business of cleaning bathrooms by winning the Keep America Beautiful award that year,” Ford said. “We won first place in statewide sweepstakes. The award was given in recognition of the cleaning of the bathrooms, and I was responsible for the cleaning. I did a national sweep and we cleaned restrooms all over the country. And we cleaned toilets, we cleaned sinks and did all sorts of stuff.
“I can’t imagine anyone ever being satisfied with a sanitation system. It’s something that we should all be concerned about as a human race,” Ford added. “As a proud American, I think that there’s a role for me to share that, and that’s a personal mission to give the public a voice and to share the message that if you’re invested in being a good citizen you can work towards doing good.”
Ford’s career would go on to influence many in higher education, with her 1994 book, “How to Be Successful,” finding a following in universities that targeted changing its focus from science and engineering to the humanities and arts.
Ford said her success with Land O’ Lakes came with the push for smaller classes.
“Our approach was that we needed to reduce the size of our classes by 20 percent across all our campus,” Ford said. “So that’s what changed the type of coursework being offered, and, of course, it was also going to change the emphasis of courses and make them more community-engaged, hands-on-oriented.”
Her new book, “Collaboration: A Creative Purpose in Life” offers ideas for leading a team, learning and sparking innovation. It is available from CBS Publishing for $20.
FORD’S EXPERIENCE WITH WOMEN AND WOMEN IN PR
FIONA DUSSIGNOL is a full-time news reporter based in Lansing, Michigan. She is a proud Michigander and covers a variety of national and state politics.
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