By Allison Beatty

It’s rare to find someone with as strong a connection to their job as Cristina Winner. She has early memories of going to public libraries and discovering limitless worlds, or attending summer sports camps at rec centers and growing to love these public spaces that let her explore new things. In college, she worked at the library, and fell in love with it so much she changed her degree to more accurately reflect her desire to be a librarian. Now, she works for the city of Crowley, overseeing the libraries, rec centers, special events and senior centers.

She says her natural desire to help people fueled her in her college job. Ninety percent of what she did, she estimates, wasn’t directly related to stocking shelves or checking out books—sometimes people would walk into the library looking for help applying to jobs, or to attend one of the numerous family and children programs held there. After getting a master’s degree, Cristina worked her way up through the ranks of local government, eventually being offered her current position which places her in charge of many of the community programs you see publicly offered around Crowley.

The scope and authority of her job means she has a lot of direct influence on the community itself. When it comes to creating public services and programs for Crowley, Cristina references what she calls community conversations. Instead of taking an authoritarian approach to the job, it comes down to a back-and-forth between the people of Crowley and the officials who have the power to act on their feedback. This is one of Cristina’s favorite parts- she’s a problem solver, and she loves hearing an opinion or concern from a citizen and actually being able to put them in contact with someone who has the tools to help. Also due to situations like this, every day can be very different from the last, and that fast-paced job suits her well.

Cristina gets frustrated when people misinterpret Crowley to be nothing more than a small town in the middle of the countryside. These days, Crowley is large enough and close enough to other towns to have all the amenities you can expect from a bigger city, while still keeping enough personability that families know other families by name. She is driven by the desire to continue offering free services and public spaces in Crowley, which seem to be all too rare in 2019. The freedom to walk into a library and not be expected to spend money is one that she wants every citizen of Crowley to know. She speaks about her job with such a passion, it’s clear the responsibilities of the position are not lost on her.

This community is a great place to raise a family, to settle down, just to live, in general, and it’s thanks to civil servants like Cristina who take their ability to shape the community both seriously and joyfully. When I spoke with her, she laughed and said she’d “drank the Crowley Kool-Aid”—thank goodness for that, because Crowley sure it lucky to have her!