Mollie Tibbetts’ stepmother honored as ‘Woman of the Year’ amid family’s tragedy

Kacey Auston-Tibbetts, stepmother of Mollie Tibbetts, named “Woman of the Year” in District 2

Kacey Auston-Tibbets, stepmother of Mollie Tibbets, named "Woman of the Year" in District 2
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Kacey Auston-Tibbets, stepmother of Mollie Tibbets, named "Woman of the Year" in District 2

Fresno City Council President Steve Brandau on Thursday recognized Mollie Tibbetts’ stepmother, Kacey Auston-Tibbetts, as woman of the year for District 2 in northwest Fresno.

Tibbetts was kidnapped and killed in Iowa, where she lived with her mother, while jogging.

The slaying was catapulted to national news when an undocumented man was arrested and charged with her murder, drawing Twitter comments from President Donald Trump.

Brandau became emotional at Thursday’s City Council meeting as he described Kacey Auston-Tibbetts’ grace and strength over the last year, when her stepdaughter’s slaying dominated national headlines.

Auston-Tibbetts is married to Mollie’s father, Rob.

“There’s extreme challenges — keeping families together, moving families forward in trying times,” Brandau said.

“A lot of the times it’s the woman who fills that role. And I think that Kacey really shone in that role last year, as a mother, as a wife, as a grandmother. You’ve been really inspiring to all of us who saw you hold yourself together, and hold everybody else together, through that tragedy.”

Auston-Tibbetts thanked her family and clients who became close friends over the years. “Every day they encourage me to be proud of where I came from and be a better person,” she said.

Each council member honored a woman from their district as 2019 Woman of the Year.

District 1 Woman of the Year was Marina Magdaleno; Debbie J. Darden was honored in District 3; Deborah Adishian-Astone in District 4; Patricia Brown in District 5; Stefani Booroojian in District 6; and Margarita Rocha in District 7.

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Brianna Calix covers Fresno’s city government for The Bee, where she works to hold public officials accountable, analyze city policy and inform readers how city hall decisions might affect their lives. She previously worked for The Bee’s sister paper, the Merced Sun-Star.