Removing Our Blinders: Change Agents in the Rural South

Views from Different Sides of the Tracks

Wednesday, April 6, 2022
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM (EDT)
via Zoom
Category: Removing Our Blinders

Panelist: Geales Sands, Executive Director, Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Geales is the founding Executive Director of the Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation, a place-based foundation established in 2000 with a mission to improve the quality of life for Georgetown County, SC residents.  As the primary funder in a relatively small, rural community (63,000), our work involves much more than grantmaking.  We work with nonprofits and government entities striving to improve Georgetown County, SC on many levels including building capacity and fostering collaboration both regionally and locally. Creating opportunity is a focal point of our giving in work we call Education to Career. Since its inception, the Foundation has invested $30M in Georgetown County.  Geales received her BA from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She is married to John and they are the proud parents of two smart, funny, compassionate, daughters who both work in the nonprofit field, one in philanthropy and the other in land conservation.

Panelist: Ray C. Funnye, Director of Public Services, Georgetown County

Ray grew up in Georgetown County, leaving to pursue his undergraduate Civil Engineering Technology degree at Savannah State University. He remained in Atlanta for more than a decade to hone his technical and managerial skills. In the early 1990s, an opportunity arose for Ray to return to his hometown and serve the community he felt indebted to for his early character formation. He accepted the position of Plans Examiner and advanced to Public Works Manager in less than two years.

 In 2002, Ray was promoted to the position he holds today: Director of Public Services. In this position he is fiscally, operationally, and managerially responsible for seven major divisions: the Georgetown County Airport, Public Works, Engineering/Capital Projects, Stormwater, Environmental Services, Fleet Services, and Facilities Services. In his time here, he has earned his Master’s Degree in management, received awards too numerous to list, and secured a valuable accreditation for the County from the American Public Works Association—but this is not what fuels his passion for public service. Respect is not awarded; it is earned over years by demonstrating fairness, expertise, and that asset that somehow defies definition called “character.”

Ray’s tremendous competency, coupled with his boundless energy and enthusiasm for serving the public, make him a larger-than-life figure here in Georgetown County. His door is always open, and it is no wonder he routinely puts in 12-hour days, because no matter how busy he is, he simply will not turn away any citizen who comes in with an issue. In the evenings and on weekends, his service orientation continues: Ray is the Executive Director and Founder of The Village Group, an organization dedicated to youth development including but not limited to ACE (Aviation Career Education) and after-school academies, and the Trustee Board treasurer of Bethel AME Church. He has spoken to thousands of students at local Career Days, and actively seeks interns from underserved locales for employment opportunities. Ray is considered Georgetown’s go-to person on myriad levels in both a professional and personal context for our more than 61,000 residents.

Facilitator: Dr. Tracy Bailey, Founder & Executive Director, Freedom Readers

Tracy Swinton Bailey holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Language and Literacy in the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education at the University of South Carolina and is the founder and executive director of Freedom Readers, Inc., a nonprofit company dedicated to improving reading skills in low-income communities. Tracy seeks to instill in teachers, students, and the community at large the belief that every student can learn and every learner has the responsibility to pass on new knowledge to another. Her research interests involve the connection between home and school and the role that the community plays in supporting the literacy development of emerging readers and writers. Tracy also holds degrees in Secondary Education (M.Ed.) and English (B.A.) from Coastal Carolina University and the College of Charleston, respectively. She spent six years teaching high school English in a rural community and three years working as an educational consultant in urban school districts. She has received the Continuing Incentive Scholarship (2010) and the Lorin W. Anderson Dissertation Research Award (2009, 2013).

Tracy has worked as a professional development associate with The Leadership and Learning Center, a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and was an affiliate in a yearlong Nieman Foundation fellowship program at Harvard University (2013-2014) where she audited the class Sparking Social Change at the Kennedy School of Government. Tracy also worked as a Curriculum Implementation Manager with Achieve 3000, a remote instruction provider. Her teaching experience at the university level includes serving as an adjunct professor in the Spadoni College of Education at Coastal Carolina University. With the publication of Riverside Blues in 2019, Tracy added novelist to her list of achievements and is working on a second book, Forever Free, released by Other Press in 2021. When she is not writing or engaged in the many adventures that comprise her work with Freedom Readers, Tracy enjoys serving on the Waccamaw Community Foundation Board of Directors which she joined in January of 2020. She is married to award-winning writer, Issac J. Bailey, and is the mother of two wonderful children, Kyle and Lyric.

Attendees (94)

Stephen Baggett

Executive Director

Greenwood Area Habitat for Humanity

Tracy Bailey

National Director

Freedom Readers

Angela Barwick

Program Director

Neighbor to Neighbor of South Carolina

Terra Bell

Community Engagement Coordinator

Smokefree SC

Pam Benedict

Dir. of Operations & Development

Hope Remains Ranch

Barbara Black


Lydia's Bowels of Mercy Home, Inc

Amy Breault

Executive Director

Horry County First Steps

Beatrice Bryson


Roman's 6 and 4 Ministries

Josh Bullock

Insurance Agent/Resource Specialist

Palmetto Project, Inc.

Jessica Burgoyne

Executive Director

Edisto Habitat for Humanity

Crystal Campbell

Executive Director

Dorchester County First Steps

Diane Carlson

Associate Director

Hospice & Palliative Care Foundation

Michel'le Cathey

Associate Director

The ARK of SC

Kim Clark

Americorps VISTA member

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative

Marcheita Cockfield

Reception and Information Assistant

Senior Resources

Jessica Cohen

Chief Strategist & Owner

Spark Solutions Coaching & Consulting

Mary Colombo

Lead Family Advocate

HALOS - Helping And Lending Outreach and Support

Jamie Cooper


Communities In Schools of South Carolina

Ayana Crawford

Community Relations Consultant

SC Human Affairs Commission

Leah Crosby

Operational Specialist - HR Generalist - Trainer

Charleston County First Steps

Yokima Cureton


Lancaster County Community Center

Craig Currey

Chief Executive Officer

Midlands Housing Alliance

Maddi Currier

Director of Development

Hope Center for Children

Cynthia Curtis

Community Investment Officer

Arras Foundation

Erin Donmoyer

Black-Sampit Riverkeeper

Winyah Rivers Alliance

Christine Ellis

Deputy Director

Winyah Rivers Alliance

Jeffrey Fleming

Chief Operating Officer

Palmetto Project, Inc.

Ray Funnye

Executive Director

The Village Group

Victoria Green

Volunteer Program Manager


Beth Greene

Center Manager

Dorchester Seniors, Inc.

A'Netra Hardy

Regional Outreach Paralegal

SC Legal Services

Elizabeth Hartnett

Program Coordinator

SC Center for Community Literacy

Kathryn Harvey


Neue South Collective

Natosha Hayward

Regional Coordinator

SC Thrive

Amelia Holcombe

Program Associate

Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

Kimberly Humphrey

GCS Relations Associate

Richland County Government and Community Services

Lynn Hutto

HR/Management Consultant

Greater Columbia Community Relations Council

Rusty Infinger

Deputy Director of Operations/General Counsel

SC Legal Services

Rebecca Jacobson

Executive Director

Smokefree SC

Tabitha James

Strategic Developer

Rural Area Leadership Initiative-Dillon County

Jamie Jayroe


Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Mariah Johnson

Operations Administrator

Greenville Housing Fund

Charlene Jones

Program Director


Natalie Jones

Director of Public Programs

Charleston Parks Conservancy

Alana Jordan

Development & Marketing Director

Together SC

Bonnie Kapp

President & CEO

New Morning

Sarah Kelley

Chief Operating Officer

New Morning

Alecia Klauk

Executive Director

Chapin We Care Center

Melissa Ladd

Owner, Facilitator


Terri Lottchea

Operations Manger

Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Sarah Lyles

Executive Director

Palmetto Pride

Michael Mahaffey

Director of Global and Regional Initiatives

Harvest Christian Ministries

Lyndsey Marchman

Grants Development Coordinator

Children's Trust of SC

Meredith Mathews

Program Manager

Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC

Caroline Mauldin

Southern Equity Collective

Tessa May

Executive Director

Loaves & Fishes

Jeff McCormack

Executive Director

SC Physicians Care Charity

Kevin McCray

Community Building & Grants Manager

Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Tish McCutchen


Jolley Foundation

Alyssa McKenzie

Development Officer

Chapman Cultural Center

Jamie Moon


Institute for Child Success

Ashley Nelson

Program & Communications Officer

Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Mamie Nicholson


The Self Family Foundation

Annah Nieman

Operations Coordinator

Florence Crittenton Programs of SC

Amy Norville

Human Resources Manager

Hope Center for Children

Jennifer Olmert

Executive Director

Upstate Mediation Center

Duchett Polite Hylton

Executive Director

Jasper County First Steps

Jeremy Price

Director of Financial Stability

United Way of Pickens County

Filippo Ravalico

Director of Operations

South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Katie Reams

Director of United for ALICE

United Way Association of SC

Rita Revels

President & CEO

Upstate Employers Network

Brooke Robertson

Director of Strategic Communication & Member Experience

Neue South Collective

LaMyra Sanders

Program Officer

South Carolina First Steps

Geales Sands

Executive Director

Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Chad Scott

Director of Development & Agency Relations

Harvest Hope Food Bank

Susan Sharp

Executive Director

Community Foundation of Greater Clemson

Paige Stephenson

President & CEO

United Way of the Piedmont

Tiffany Straus

Director of Community Relations

HopeHealth Inc

Aaron Stroud-Romero

VP of International Operations

OneWorld Health

Lindy Studds

Executive Director

Rape Crisis Center of Horry & Georgetown Counties

Terri Towle

Director of Fund Development

Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation

Donna Waites

President & CEO

Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC

Julie Walker


J.H. Walker Legacy Foundation

Mark Ward

Director of Operations and Member Services

United Way Association of SC

LaQuinta West

Executive Director

Dorchester Seniors, Inc.

Alexis Whitmire

Grants Administrator

Spartanburg Regional Foundation

Ericka Wooten

Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC

Greta Young

Executive Director

The Parenting Place

Belle Zeigler

Executive Director

Eastern Carolina Community Foundation

Benjamin Byrd

Board Member

Pee Dee Community Project

4 Other Registered Attendees