Since we shared the news of her passing, many of you have written wonderful things about our dear friend Cathy Twiss. She was indeed lovely to work with and made people feel welcome in her world. Cathy was tenacious and dedicated to creating a lasting impact in all that she did. She served as a trusted colleague, friend, and mentor to so many of us across the organization. She was determined to help all of us better understand and appreciate the nuances of the public radio system. She also loved her team like a family.
Below, we – the members of her team – share what we’ve learned from Cathy as we continue to do the work that was so close to her heart.
Be aggressively realistic
Cathy was one of the smartest and kindest persons I’ve ever known and had the pleasure to work with for many years. What I’ll remember about Cathy are the facial expressions, the quick knowing glances, and most of all, the laughter — the bust-a-gut, bent over sideways, loud, joyous laughter.
When it came to work, she could see things three or four steps ahead of everybody else. The insight, incredible judgment, and thoughtfulness were always just amazing. Cathy could distill anything, any conversation or discussion, down to the bare essentials and bring meaning to it. She held it together for so many at PRI/PRX, juggling station and producer relations, operations, contracts, pricing discussions, budget planning, etc. All in the name of serving the listener and supporting human dialogue and connection. She was a rock and an inspiration.
One more thing I will always remember about Cathy was that she had a way of encouraging all of us to be “aggressively realistic,” especially when it came to setting department and personal goals. She would use this phrase not only because she knew that is what the organization needed, but also because it was one way to get the best out of you, and the best “for you as a human being.” She would encourage you to go for it, but within reason. From there, you could dig in and move forward with the important work that we do or with some new exciting, strategic plan.
During the last year, I know Cathy was always aggressively realistic, fighting her fight and the battle day-to-day. She continued to graciously share her knowledge and wisdom with all of us through Zoom calls, witty Slack messages, and the occasional phone call. That was her gift to us. She will indeed be greatly missed by the entire public media family.
While some days it’s tempting to just reach for the low-hanging fruit, Cathy was always reaching for the sky. And I know that’s what she would really want us to do.
— Mike Pfeifer, Associate Director, Station Services
Stay in the moment
Our friendship taught me the importance of being present in every moment. We both valued family and especially being mothers. We'd share stories about our childhood and the beauty of watching it come full circle in raising our girls. We also were pretty clumsy and would spill something on our clothes by the end of the day. We'd send each other photos throughout the day, laughing hysterically at ourselves. That was so like Cathy: to find the humor and a reason to smile in the smallest of things. Looking back, I now realize it kept us in the moment. I value motherhood even more because of my friendship with Cathy.
I think of her every day. To her family and friends, thank you for sharing her with us. She was truly a gift.
— Sierra Reed, Senior Manager, Station Services
Prioritize human relationships
A couple months ago, a group of colleagues were talking about equity and culture in the workplace. I remember Cathy saying that one of the common pitfalls of work culture is the valuing of work product over relationships.
Then, one month ago at an all-staff meeting, I shared an audio slideshow with photos from a vacation my partner and I took to Maui. After the presentation, colleagues said nice things about the presentation or about wanting to go to Hawaii. Cathy said something different: She enjoyed the presentation, she said, because it showed how much I loved my family and my partner.
I believe this was the last time she and I spoke directly, and it was such a touching thing to hear from her.
Cathy prioritized human relationships, and it showed in how she related to us and the impact she had on us. I am incredibly grateful for our time together.
— Jagmeet Singh Mac, Senior Manager, Station Services
Elevate each other
It’s hard to articulate what Cathy meant to me. Her presence was a gift. Her leadership was remarkable. Her love of people was exemplary. You see, Cathy saw the humanity in everyone; she knew how to draw out your best qualities and how to make you laugh!
Cathy was more than a colleague. She was a wellspring of wisdom, humor, empathy, curiosity, and strength — even when faced with unimaginable feats. Those qualities are what made Cathy an extraordinary person. Not only was she a brilliant colleague, but she was also a friend, a mentor, a person who toiled lovingly to elevate me.
Rarely do you find that in the workplace. It's also rare that I remember many of our conversations. Often they were filled with rousing intellect, roaring laughter, and elegant realness. And despite our various (and very visible) differences, Cathy always treated me as an equal.
Our time together was well spent. The memories we created are incredibly powerful. They’re enduring. They’re indelible. For in them, she will live on.
— Sean Nesbitt, Director, Station Services
No words can adequately express our sadness at Cathy’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with her. Our thoughts go out to Cathy’s family, which we know she held above all else and meant the world to her.