Mesa building entrance at night
The three women were recognized for their leadership

Three University of Texas Permian Basin alum were recently honored for their leadership and contributions to the West Texas community.

Sara Kate Billingsly, Kristi Edwards and Lynda James were recognized by the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest at their annual Women of Distinction event. The event is a nearly three decade old tradition where the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest recognize West Texas women who serve as mentors and role models, and make a difference in the lives of young girls.

Get to know the women who are forever part of the Falcon Family and are doing exceptional work in our area.

sara kate billingslySara Kate Billingsly

Sara Kate Billingsly is the Judge of the 446thDistrict Court of Ector County. She’s the first female district judge of Ector County. Judge Billingsly earned her degree in marketing at UT Permian Basin. She then attended The University of Oklahoma Law School where she graduated with honors. After law school, Sara Kate returned to her hometown of Odessa where she worked with Todd, Barron, Thomason & Hudman, PC. After two years with the firm, she opened her own boutique litigation firm known as the Billingsly Law Firm, PC – this firm became one of the most premiere litigation firms known throughout Texas and New Mexico. In 2016, Sara Kate was appointed as the presiding judge in the newly created 446thDistrict Court for Ector County by Governor Greg Abbott. A majority of her cases revolve around family law and domestic disputes.

Ms. Billingsly has spent her adult life advocating for those who cannot do it for themselves. She has served on boards of Harmony Home Children’s Advocacy Center, Catholic Charities, The United Way of Odessa and Food2Kids.

Kristi Edwards kristi edwards

Kristi Edwards is the CEO and Clinical Director for Centers for Children in Midland. She earned her master’s degree in clinical psychology from UT Permian Basin. She is a graduate of Leadership Midland and of the Nonprofit Management Center’s nonprofit executive leadership certificate course. Her life outside of work is dedicated to serving her community. Kristi sits on the Midland College Drug Abuse Advisory Board and is an executive board member at the Midland County System of Care. She also serves on the Midland County Crime Victims Board, the Permian Basin Mental Health Providers and is a deacon in the Presbyterian Church, among other community involvement.

Kristi was nominated for the Women of Distinction honor because, “she truly exemplifies the Girl Scout values in her professional career, family life and through her church and community service. Kristi is known as a positive influencer, a counselor and team builder.”

Kristi and her husband Kelly have three children – Matt, who is married to Lauren, Kelton and Cole.

lynda jamesLynda James

Lynda James is the Assistant General Manager and Controller at Fasken Oil & Ranch. She began her career at Fasken Oil & Ranch in 1982 as an office clerk, working her way up through the ranks to one of the top positions within the company. Lynda earned her Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and information systems from UT Permian Basin. She’s also a certified accountant.

Under James’ leadership, Fasken now supports two blood drives a year – they’re the largest held by any group or company in Midland. James is dedicated to improving educational opportunities – that’s why she helped form Fasken’s Partners in Education committee with Barbara Fasken Elementary School. In this role, Lynda engaged Fasken’s ownership and employees in fundraising efforts. To date, she has helped the committee raise over $120,000 to stock the school’s library. Never seeking the limelight for herself, Lynda has helped to create a culture in which community service is both encouraged and rewarded at Fasken Oil & Ranch.

James is the President of the Permian Basin Gifts of Hope board, the treasurer for the Prairie Foundation Board and Grants Committee member.

Lynda’s husband John says her greatest accomplishment is being a terrific wife, mother and grandmother. “Lynda commits herself, heart and soul to any organization she is associated with. Loyalty and commitment are truly what Lynda is about,” he said.