Torey Byington is back, and we are grateful. As a 1998 graduate of the University of Michigan, Byington moved from Michigan to Sacramento to work for the Yolo Basin Foundation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Then her career took her back to Michigan in 2008, to run a residential environmental education school for ten years. By 2017, she and her family missed living in California (her daughter was in college here). When they moved back to our area, they fell in love with our village and our community's friendliness and hospitality. Byington and her family lived in a Sungarden duplex for eight or nine months and bought a home in 2018 when Byington's parents moved in with them.
Local realtor Nan Danford became friends with Byington, and recognizing her skill and experience, invited Byington to join the Fair Oaks Village Enhancement Committee (FOVEC). Danford's success in real estate comes not only from her expertise but also because she is generous with her knowledge and friendship, which benefits FOVEC. Byington joined FOVEC because she feels there's much love for Fair Oaks and the Village, and she wants people to be part of Village life regularly and not just a "one-off." Byington says Fair Oaks is a brilliant, vibrant community, and she wants to help keep it that way. She's very impressed with how local business owners have been able to navigate the pandemic and feels they deserve a lot of kudos and applause for the work they did just to survive.
What strengths do you bring to FOVEC?
Byington describes her mother as a former teacher and career philanthropist. It's not surprising that Byington's career would take a similar path. While she has 27 years of experience in the nonprofit arena, much of Byington's nonprofit work focuses on our environment. As Sacramento Valley Regional Director for River Partners (riverpartners.org), a nonprofit wetland restoration and wildlife organization, a big part of her job is developing projects and finding funding for them. Byington says there's a lot of money coming down the pipeline our village can benefit from. Byington's expertise will come in handy as we work together to claim our share of federal funding, the state budget surplus, and local foundations to help keep us profitable and viable without losing the features we love. We are fortunate to have someone with Byington's professional background and dedication to nonprofit work who will help us win funding for Village projects.
What are your observations about our Village?
Byington feels business owners should be invested in the Village because it affects them. She also says there are 87% women and minority business owners in Fair Oaks. How did we become a place for that? It works in our community because the small businesses in the Village provide a variety of goods and services we don't find in big malls. The Village is a microcosm of how business was going towards big box stores, but today people want to shop small. Byington says in her experience, local businesses have been unfailingly polite, and shopping is more personal.
Byington agrees that growing our organization by inviting new members is essential. We can make the Village more profitable and viable without losing the uniqueness we love by finding common ground and working together. One of the more pressing issues we can work on is to find funding to increase our parking capacity.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Byington studied and traveled in India in college and explored Sri Lanka – she implores young people to get out and see the world. Travel changes perspective about what we have. We realize we're more than spoiled because we have running water and can drink a glass of water whenever we want. There wasn't a wastewater treatment plant in the entire country when she was in Sri Lanka. It's very eye-opening. Go to places that get you out of your comfort zone where you've never been.
Thank you, Torey. You are a great fit with our community, and we look forward to learning from you and working with you.