First elected to Prescott City Council in 2015, Dr. Billie Orr is in her second term on Council and was chosen to be Mayor Pro Tem by the Mayor and Council Members in 2017. She was active in public education for twenty-five years; serving as a teacher in Phoenix, principal in Scottsdale, and ultimately becoming Arizona’s Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction, overseeing all Arizona K-12 public schools. In addition to local and state education leadership positions, Billie led a national non-profit in Washington D.C. during President George W. Bush’s first term. The organization focused on providing high academic standards for all children and the opportunity for parents to choose schools that worked best for their child and family. Today she continues to seek ways to improve the lives of children, families and the Prescott community. As a hands-on leader, Billie serves on the Board of Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters and is also a Big Sister to her second Little, 7 year old Mariah, with whom she spends quality time weekly. Literacy has always been one of Billie’s priorities. She worked to reopen Sunday hours at the Prescott Public Library and supported the involvement of her Rotary Club, Frontier Rotary, in establishing an Imagination Library, which to date has mailed 717 books to children under the age of five in Prescott. Billie also serves on the Steering Committee for Read On Prescott which promotes literacy in our community. Dr. Orr is also on the Board of Arizona Town Hall which studies and influences critical issues across our state such as Funding PreK-12 Education in 2017, Strong Families Thriving Children in 2019 and Creating Vibrant Communitiesin 2020.
When asked about how she felt about mentoring, Billie responded, “I have always welcomed the opportunity to mentor women and girls in leadership roles. My life was changed in 1963, when I was a sophomore at McComb High School. My American History teacher recognized something in me, and she was very vocal about how important it was for me to attend college.” Raised on the wrong side of the tracks in a small southern Mississippi town, Billie’s family believed college was a complete waste of time, and there was no money. Fortunately the teacher was persistent; Billie’s mom got behind the effort 100% and together they found a way. Billie was the first person in her family to attend college, and it all started with a teacher who mentored her in high school.
As a teacher, principal and superintendent herself, Billie sought opportunities to bring students and teachers into leadership positions. Although education is heavily represented by females, the majority of leadership positions are held by men, even more so in the 80’s and 90’s. Billie often bucked the system, encouraged many female teachers to take on leadership roles, and created such opportunities for them when possible. She encouraged and mentored mothers to advocate for their children at local and state levels. Politically active for several decades, she has encouraged women to run for political office. Currently Billie is endorsing, supporting and advising 8 women who are running for political office at the local, state and national levels in this election cycle. Billie concluded “We all set examples of leadership for women of all ages, even when they are as young as my Little, 7 year-old Mariah.”
Billie enjoys history and art, especially western history and western art. She was active in the creation of the Prescott Heritage History Hunt Adventure for children and families at the Courthouse Plaza and also the Western Heritage Center, where she serves on their Board of Directors. She is a Board Member of the Phippen Art Museum, the Republican Women of Prescott, and is active in her church, Willow Hills Baptist Church. Working with City staff, she helped establish Prescott’s Citizens Academy, an eight week course for citizens to learn more about the City of Prescott and how they can get involved. It has been a great success story for the City. Billie’s newest adventure is the Mayor’s Commission on Well-Being, and she is working with nine dynamic commissioners to engage all citizens who live, learn, work and play in Prescott in the lifelong pursuit of well-being. In addition to her many duties as Mayor Pro Tem, Councilwoman and community leader, Billie loves to walk her English Setters (Montana & Dakota), workout daily and play pickleball. She and two other “pickle people” raised private money and public support to create the Prescott Pickleball Complex in Pioneer Park which now features twelve courts, of which four are lit for nighttime play. The courts are packed day and night with players of all ages. Billie’s Master’s Degree centered on Literacy and her Doctoral focus was Leadership, both near and dear to her heart. She is a servant leader, eager to mentor and help every person reach their full potential. Billie and her husband Bob Orr have been married for 47 years and have a wonderful son, a beautiful daughter-in-law and three adorable granddaughters, ages 2, 5 & 6 who all live happily in a small Air Stream trailer with their dog, Duke. Dr. Orr feels blessed to live, learn, work and play in the best place in the USA!