The Islands Society is pleased to recognize Tina Gentry as its Hilton Head Island Vision 2030 voice of the month. Gentry was raised in Beaufort, South Carolina, and graduated from the University of South Carolina with degrees in business administration and finance. Before accepting the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of the Lowcountry in 2011, Gentry worked as the Vice-President of patient access and sustainable resources for Four Seasons in Flat Rock, North Carolina.
One of guiding principles of the Hilton Head Island Vision 2030 is “working together and volunteering for the greater good of the Hilton Head Island Community.” Why is this guiding principle important moving into the future?
In order to create positive lasting change, it is imperative that members of a community clearly see ways that they can become a part of making that vision a reality. Progress is realized when people work together toward shared goals.
Is Hilton Head Island currently in a position to fulfill this guiding principle? If not, what needs to be done to position the island to accomplish this goal?
I absolutely believe that Hilton Head Island is positioned to fulfill this guiding principle. The diversity of the people who call the Island home is one of the Island’s greatest strengths. The collective wisdom that comes from resident’s experiences and knowledge is an incredible asset for any type of community change. Hilton Head has experienced many successes because individuals come together and work for the greater good.
How is United Way of the Lowcountry contributing to accomplishing the aforementioned guiding principle?
The United Way of the Lowcountry’s history is deep-rooted in people working together and volunteering. In fact, our agency exists today because a group of local business leaders, in 1958, recognized needs in the community and came together to raise money for agencies and services to fulfill those needs.
The United Way’s current Community Impact work can only be accomplished because stakeholders truly had a voice in the issues that will be addressed. They have a common understanding of those issues and a clear discernment of how it takes everyone working together to achieve positive change, which can be measured through common outcomes.
Having grown up in Beaufort, you’re now in a position as CEO of United Way of the Lowcountry to make far-reaching positive changes in the region. What sort of changes do you envision?
We are all so blessed to live in the beautiful Lowcountry where so many positive initiatives for change are taking place. There are a number of improvements that I would personally like to see including the following:
- Every child in Beaufort and Jasper Counties should be provided with the opportunity to develop the foundation that allows them to succeed in school, resulting in a minimum of 80% of children entering the 4th grade functioning at grade level.
- All residents of Beaufort and Jasper Counties should have: access to safe, affordable housing options; convenient access to, and knowledge of, comprehensive healthcare; and economic opportunities through diversified and meaningful employment options that allow for financial and family stability.
Why are nonprofit organizations vital to creating a sense of identity?
Most people are innately wired to connect with a purpose. They are passionate about any number of issues. When people are connected to organizations and feel passionate about the mission their involvement fuels the agency. Those people who become champions and supporters of an agency’s mission through volunteering, donating or both take pride in their involvement in that agency and its work becomes a part of their identity.
Finally, if you could add one additional guiding principle to the Hilton Head Island Vision 2030, what would it be?
I believe that the guiding principles for Hilton Head Island’s Vision 2030 are very comprehensive. The process that was used to identify these principles appears thorough and I trust that process. Therefore, I have no additions. I do look forward to seeing the guiding principles lived out on Hilton Head Island.
Tina Gentry is the President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of the Lowcountry.
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Image Credit: Alistair Nicol (Flickr CC)