Years as a Staff Member/Position(s) held: Sailing staff (1985), AHC Camp III (1987), HC Camp IV (1989 & 1991)
Current Profession and Title: Executive Director, RiverCross
Can you provide a brief overview of your job responsibilities?
With RiverCross, we help orphans and vulnerable children overcome adversity and thrive. My job is providing leadership, advancing culture, and building relationships with organizations, churches and individuals who share our passion to help these children.
What similarities have you seen with children at Camp and the vulnerable child populations you currently work with?
Kids are kids and they all need the same things to thrive. One of the most critical things every child needs is one caring adult who will shepherd them through life. We all have the same basic needs and child development is the same no matter what country or culture you’re in. We get to see so much resilience and build that resilience.
What career advice do you have for our Camp community?
While working at Seafarer or Sea Gull may not seem directly related to your career pathway, the lessons you learn about hard work, enthusiasm, integrity, leadership and responsibility will serve you well whatever you do. Embrace every opportunity to grow.
What have been your greatest personal and professional accomplishments? Or what is a goal that you are currently working toward?
With RiverCross, I’m proud of the incredible work my team is doing in Africa with orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and in Raleigh, NC with refugee children. They are helping children experience real healing and find lasting hope.
One goal that I am working toward is raising $100,000 for a new program that truly has the potential to help millions of orphans and vulnerable children around the world overcome adversity and thrive. It’s a program that equips local leaders to help local children. It’s evidence-based and has the endorsement of one of the largest orphan care ministries in the world.
How do the values or skills learned at Camp show up in your everyday work or personal life?
My experiences at Seafarer were truly the most impactful leadership capacity-building experiences of my life. The amount of responsibility given to me as a young woman, and the confidence placed in me provided such a strong foundation of awareness of the responsibility of the privilege we have to influence and care for others.
As a Head Counselor, my job was connecting, leading, team-building and problem-solving. I do every single one of these things every single day. I couldn’t be more grateful for my years at Camp and how they prepared me for the work I’m doing now.
I married the Motorboating Chief, Bill Finley, and we have seven children – just a few short of a cabin! I think the vision for a large family we really got at Camp, we sort of run our family the way that you run a cabin. We are very much a low-tech family, with the kids climbing trees and reading and that lifestyle has been great for our children.
What person or situation influenced you most at Camp and why did they/it impact you?
The most is really tough. I met my husband there. I actually remember the first time I saw him. It was the first day of staff training in 1987. I walked down to the waterfront and saw this really cute guy talking on the phone. He was a U.A. that year. We didn’t start dating until 1990 and came back in 1991. He was Motorboating Chief and I was HC of Camp IV. We got married on August 24th of that year, right after Family Camp. So, I’d have to say that that he was the most influential person.
But, I had the privilege of serving under incredible leaders, including Judy Bright and Jo Anna Lilley McMillan. These women, along with many others, taught me how to have crucial conversations, see every challenge as an opportunity, and play in the rain. I use what I learned from them every single day. I had some phenomenal women that I learned from and looked up to. These women really helped me to realize my leadership capabilities, grow into them and overcome challenges. They taught me how to have crucial conversations. I had the benefit of women speaking truth into my life and calling me up to a really high standard.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My younger camp self? Soak up every moment. There is no better preparation for your life – for being a mom or leading an organization – than what you’ll get at Camp. And the relationships you form will last a lifetime.
What advice would you give current campers?
Do not cabin squat! Embrace every opportunity, take the time to build friendships that are outside of your immediate comfort circle. Everybody has so much to offer. Go that extra mile to be kind to someone you may not automatically click with. Look for beauty with everyone you encounter and work to cultivate a kind and gracious relationship with them.
Favorite Camp food:
Sunday Fried Chicken, of course!
Favorite Camp Song:
Walking Down the Street
Fiction – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Growing up in coastal NC and spending a number of summers at Seafarer, the author’s descriptions of marsh and water and light and sky took me back there And Kya’s story is so achingly beautiful and tragic. I so wanted to step into the book with her and help her navigate.
Non-Fiction – Traction by Gino Wickman
This book has provided invaluable guidance for me and my team in establishing the RiverCross “way of doing things.” I had one colleague tell me that it’s like an MBA in a book. I don’t know that I’d go that far, but I will say that it has helped us too.
Favorite sports team:
UVA. We lived in Charlottesville for 14 years and they became my #1 team.
Dream vacation destination:
Two of my daughters have traveled with me to Zambia. My dream vacation would be to take everyone. We’d visit with all my friends, go to one of my favorite villages and then spend several days at this fabulous resort near Victoria Falls. We’d hike, play in the river, raft and hang out with zebras and giraffes. and After that, we’d cross the Zambezi River into Botswana for a five-day safari and then finish up with a couple of days back at the resort with nothing much to do.