Advisory board chairman, Bank South and chairman, United Way of the Coastal Empire 2016 campaign
Husband Bob, children Poppy Brown, Jaime Miller and Bobby Ford and six grandchildren (five in Pooler, one in Hawaii)
A Walker hound named RK aka RoadKill, a rescue dog
years in banking
years as a volunteer for United Way
From Jimmy Buffet: “Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on.” When things get to be too much, that’s the thing that comes to mind.
I served on the (Savannah-Chatham County) school board in the ‘90s. Also I served on the Garden City council (for a year and half) because that’s where I’m from.
I grew up with all men in this banking world. (In addition to her title as advisory board chairman) I also serve on the fiduciary board of Bank South, headquartered in Lake Oconee.
I was raised in Garden City…I graduated from Groves High School in 1972…I went to the University of Georgia in special education. I didn’t complete my degree with that.
Then I went back and attended the Georgia Banking School at UGA..I started at SunTrust as a teller…Of the 42 years in banking, 41 of those are with one bank — SunTrust.
what kind of banking have you done?
Retail. Commercial. I took out the trash, swept the floor. When you’re in retail, you do everything you can to keep your branch operational. I was in wealth management. It is fun to help people plan for their goal, their future. I retired as Savannah market president of SunTrust in December 2014.
No one should retire in December because it’s cold and wet. And I moved to Liberty County, and it was absolutely horrible.
I don’t cook…And my husband came home from work one day, and I said “I’ve made enough soup for all the homeless in Savannah. It was vegetable soup. And there were all these pots on the stove. And he said, “OK, Kay. You’ve got to find something to do.”
Harold Reynolds, president and CEO of Bank South, asked if I would help him open in Savannah. That was in January-February of 2015. We just re-opened in May, 2015.
what does the chair of the advisory board do?
I manage the advisory board meeting and put together the advisory board in Savannah. It’s a non-fiduciary board. They help us grow the bank. They’re community leaders — 18 total in Savannah, business owners in our community.
what have you done as a United Way volunteer?
I’ve served on the board of directors, helped the campaign on the campaign cabinet. I’ve served on the finance committee, women’s legacy council. I’ve been just a strong advocate for them in our community.)
why have you been successful for United Way?
I believe in it. Well, a long time ago, when I was a single parent, United Way had a program that helped my daughter. I thought it was my responsibility to pay it forward.
United Way has the Jenkins Trust, which covers the majority of the administrative costs of United Way. The trust allows us to put back (money the campaign raises) into the community.
That draws me to our United Way. There’s accountability every year for the programs that are included in United Way.
They have to present why they should be included in the funding and what impact they have…They’re not necessarily funded at any year. They have to have an impact, and you’re managing outcomes.
I believe in it. I believe in the power it has in our own community, the lives it helps.
when did you start as chair of the campaign?
I started as soon as the (2015) campaign ended. We have just started to kick things off now — January and February.
what is your campaign goal? Last year the campaign raised $9 million.
I won’t be able to do anything close to that without help. It’s a team effort. There’s never enough money to meet the need. It’s scary. It’s a big responsibility to get the right people to make it happen. The goal is a collaborative decision. We have to sort of take the pulse of our community and see how things are from an economic standpoint.
why should people give to United Way?
Is it an easy sell? It sounds like it should be, but it’s not necessarily the case. If we could get everyone to give something, no matter how much, it can make a difference for one individual, one family. We probably have more people needing (United Way’s help) because of the downturn in our economy.
will you raise more than $9 million?
Well, I haven’t known them to go backward.
how hard will it be to raise money?
I think it’s going to be very difficult. We’re heading into an election, and how that’s going is going to impact the world in general. It seems less stable economically ... I sound like doom and gloom, but I’m just concerned.
what techniques will you use to raise money?
What is your overall plan? I think one of the business things to do in the community is education and how we differ from other United Ways, that we’re independent, that we have the Jenkins Trust, that we have accountability.
I think it’s difficult to go out and ask for money when we have not educated everybody about how we’re different. Almost 100 per cent of the money raised goes right back into the community. I heard a lot in the vice chair role of people who moved into the community and even some from here who did not know (about the Jenkins Trust).
Of the money raised, it’s (about) 98 cents goes back into the community.
Also, we need the right team to help us go ahead and ask for help … people who are passionate about United Way. There’s already a great group who have (worked) for United Way for years. It’s the cabinet, 12 people…It takes a great team, a lot of people putting in a lot of effort (on the campaign.)
Also there are the loaned associates (business leaders who are loaned by their companies to fund raise full time for United Way). The plan to raise money…is to get everyone pulling together and asking. You have to ask.
what theme will you have? A superhero?
I am a very straightforward and no nonsense person. And I am not flying in. It’s got to be energetic, fast-paced, relevant.
why is Savannah a great place for a United Way fundraising drive?
I think we have a lot of needs in our community. And we have a lot of generous people willing to give back and willing to give a hand up and not a hand out.
The purpose is to help people better their lives for themselves. It’s not a gift program forever. It’s to help people in time of need better themselves, better their lives, the children, the elderly…families…Hopefully these people will pay it forward.
do you have a mission statement?
Yes. These are our core values: Give, advocate and volunteer ..We serve Chatham County, Effingham, Liberty and Bryan. It is a huge area.