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)

Aaron Stroud-Romero

VP of Field Operations

OneWorld Health

Alana Jordan

Development & Membership Director

Together SC

Alecia Klauk

Executive Director

Chapin We Care Center

Alexis Whitmire

Grants Administrator

Spartanburg Regional Foundation

Alyssa McKenzie

Development Officer

Chapman Cultural Center

Amelia Holcombe

Program Associate

Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

Amy Breault

Executive Director

Horry County First Steps

Amy Norville

Human Resources Manager

Hope Center for Children

A'Netra Hardy

Regional Outreach Paralegal

SC Legal Services

Angela Barwick

Program Director

Neighbor to Neighbor of South Carolina

Annah Nieman

Operations Coordinator

Florence Crittenton Programs of SC

Ashley Nelson

Program & Communications Officer

Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Ayana Crawford

Community Relations Consultant

SC Human Affairs Commission

Barbara Black


Lydia's Bowels of Mercy Home, Inc

Beatrice Bryson


Roman's 6 and 4 Ministries

Belle Zeigler

Executive Director

Eastern Carolina Community Foundation

Benjamin Byrd

Board Member

Pee Dee Community Project

Beth Greene

Volunteer Coordinator

Dorchester Seniors, Inc.

Bonnie Kapp

President & CEO

New Morning

Brooke Robertson

Graphic Designer | Developer

Neue South Collective

Caroline Mauldin

Southern Equity Collective

Chad Scott

Director of Development & Agency Relations

Harvest Hope Food Bank

Charlene Jones

Program Director


Christine Ellis

Deputy Director

Winyah Rivers Alliance

Craig Currey

Chief Executive Officer

Midlands Housing Alliance

Crystal Campbell

Executive Director

Dorchester County First Steps

Cynthia Curtis

Arras Foundation

Diane Carlson

Associate Director

Hospice & Palliative Care Foundation

Donna Waites

Vice President of Programs

Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC

Duchett Polite Hylton

Executive Director

Jasper County First Steps

Elizabeth Hartnett

Program Coordinator

SC Center for Community Literacy

Ericka Wooten

Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC

Erin Donmoyer

Black-Sampit Riverkeeper

Winyah Rivers Alliance

Filippo Ravalico

Director of Operations

South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Geales Sands

Executive Director

Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Greta Young

Executive Director

The Parenting Place

Jamie Cooper


Communities In Schools of South Carolina

Jamie Jayroe


Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Jamie Moon


Institute for Child Success

Jeff McCormack

Executive Director

SC Physicians Care Charity

Jeffrey Fleming

Chief Operating Officer

Palmetto Project, Inc.

Jennifer Olmert

Executive Director

Upstate Mediation Center

Jeremy Price

Director of Financial Stability

United Way of Pickens County

Jessica Burgoyne

Executive Director

Edisto Habitat for Humanity

Jessica Cohen

Chief Strategist & Owner

Spark Solutions Coaching & Consulting

Josh Bullock

Insurance Agent/Resource Specialist

Palmetto Project, Inc.

Julie Walker


J.H. Walker Legacy Foundation

Kathryn Harvey


Neue South Collective

Katie Reams

Community Impact Manager

United Way Association of SC

Kevin McCray

Community Building & Grants Manager

Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Kim Clark

Americorps VISTA member

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative

Kimberly Humphrey

GCS Relations Associate

Richland County Government and Community Services

LaMyra Sanders

Program Officer

South Carolina First Steps

LaQuinta West

Deputy Director

Dorchester Seniors, Inc.

Leah Crosby

Program Office Manager/Literacy Outreach Coord.

Charleston County First Steps

Lindy Studds

Executive Director

Rape Crisis Center of Horry & Georgetown Counties

Lyndsey Marchman

Grants Development Coordinator

Children's Trust of SC

Lynn Hutto

HR/Management Consultant

Greater Columbia Community Relations Council

Maddi Currier

Director of Development

Hope Center for Children

Mamie Nicholson


The Self Family Foundation

Marcheita Cockfield

Reception and Information Assistant

Senior Resources

Mariah Johnson

Executive Assistant

Greenville Housing Fund

Mark Ward

Director of Operations and Member Services

United Way Association of SC

Mary Colombo

Lead Family Advocate

HALOS - Helping And Lending Outreach and Support

Melissa Ladd

Owner, Facilitator


Meredith Mathews

Program Manager

Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC

Michael Mahaffey

Director of Global and Regional Initiatives

Harvest Christian Ministries

Michel'le Cathey

Associate Director

The ARK of SC

Natalie Jones

Director of Public Programs

Charleston Parks Conservancy

Natosha Hayward

Regional Coordinator

SC Thrive

Paige Stephenson

President & CEO

United Way of the Piedmont

Pam Benedict

Dir. of Operations & Development

Hope Remains Ranch

Ray Funnye

Executive Director

The Village Group

Rebecca Jacobson

Executive Director

Smokefree SC

Rita Revels

President & CEO

Upstate Employers Network

Rusty Infinger

Deputy Director of Operations/General Counsel

SC Legal Services

Sarah Kelley

Chief Operating Officer

New Morning

Sarah Lyles

Executive Director

Palmetto Pride

Stephen Baggett

Executive Director

Greenwood Area Habitat for Humanity

Susan Sharp - 1

Executive Director

Community Foundation of Greater Clemson

Tabitha James

Strategic Developer

Rural Area Leadership Initiative-Dillon County

Terra Bell

Community Engagement Coordinator

Smokefree SC

Terri Lottchea

Operations Manger

Frances P. Bunnelle Foundation

Terri Towle

Director of Fund Development

Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation

Tessa May

Interim Executive Director

Loaves & Fishes

Tiffany Straus

Director of Community Relations

HopeHealth Inc

Tish McCutchen


Jolley Foundation

Tracy Bailey

Chief Executive Officer

Freedom Readers

Victoria Green

Volunteer Program Manager


Yokima Cureton


Lancaster County Community Center

4 Other Registered Attendees

For More Information:

Debbie Nelson

Debbie Nelson

President and Founder, DNA Creative Communications