In 16 years with the Long Beach Unified School District, Nila Halili never expected to encounter circumstances she saw during two weeks last March.
As an intermediate clerk in the Facilities Planning and Development Division, she found herself virtually single-handedly responding to panicked calls from the public, juggling tasks, and maintaining communications flow to keep the department running while many in the division were sent home to work.
"I had to deal with competing priorities and was trying to do multiple jobs as we also had a few employees on leave," she recalled.
"At times Nila and I were the only people in the office," said David Miranda, executive director of Facilities Planning and Development. "While I was trying to manage the situation, she was invaluable in keeping communication channels open and making sure that even in these unusual times, nothing fell through the cracks," he said. "She went above and beyond."
Despite school closures, the Facilities team never ceased progress on the dozens of projects in planning or under construction throughout the district. Planners and construction crews continued to work daily, following state and local safety guidelines.
"As it turned out, once needed adjustments were made, our team actually increased its productivity and efficiency, ensuring that all our projects remained on schedule and even ahead of schedule," said Miranda. "But in those early weeks after the stay-at-home order, we could not have remained on track without Nila's extraordinary efforts quarter-backing our efforts."
Halili was recently recognized for her exemplary performance, although she said she felt she was simply doing her job. "I am the second youngest of seven children, raised by a single father, who always taught us the importance of a strong work ethic," she said. "I just knew I had to push myself because didn’t want to let anyone down."
The mother of two grown daughters who both graduated from Long Beach USD schools, Halili was born and raised in the Philippines. After earning her BS in business administration, she worked in her family's poultry supply operation before following her husband to the United States in 1990.
Once here, the couple settled in Long Beach to raise their two daughters, who are college graduates working in nursing and marine biology. Halili became interested in working for the school district after volunteering for years in her daughters' classrooms.
"I was interested in learning more about the school district, so when a temporary position opened, I decided to apply," she said. Starting in Special Projects, she also worked in Special Education and Head Start before joining the facilities team five years ago.
"Now, expectations have been raised, so I challenge myself every day to do even better," she said.