University of North Carolina Wilmington graduate Stephanie Bowen is Brunswick Family Assistance Agency’s executive director.
By Makenzie Holland, StarNews Staff
From Wilmington Star News, Dec 22, 2016. Copyright 2016 GateHouse Media, LLC. Some rights reserved
BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Stephanie Bowen opens the door to the Brunswick Family Assistance Agency every morning before 9 a.m. After that, Bowen takes off in whatever direction the nonprofit organization needs her to go that day.
The 26-year-old Leland native was named BFA executive director in September, a job she rose to after a year serving as one of the organization’s program managers. While working as a program manager, Bowen managed the agency’s volunteer program, food pantry and daily funding.
Since taking on the role as executive director, Bowen has been in charge of managing the operations and finances of the Shallotte-based agency, with the help of former executive director Fred Stephens.
BFA’s mission is to provide services to Brunswick County residents in need, whether that be through financial assistance for rent, heating or medical costs, giving out food or providing support through various programs, Bowen said. The organization serves approximately 20 percent of the county’s population.
|Family: Husband David and two children: Carly, 6, and Kaylee, 2.|
|Education: Bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of North Carolina Wilmington|
|Goal for 2017: To expand the Brunswick Family Assistance Agency’s programs for county residents in need.|
|Off the clock: “I mostly spend time with my kids. I think that’s all you have time to do as a young mother. We take the kids places on the weekends, to the park, or we find things to do, things that are going on in the community, and that’s pretty much what we spend our spare time doing.”
“Every day we allocate a certain amount of funding for each area of the county and we do that to make our funding stretch throughout the year so we can really service the most people who are in the most need,” she said. “So every day we look at our accounts and we say, okay, we are able to provide this much assistance for the Boiling Spring Lakes and Oak Island area, this much assistance for the Leland area, that kind of thing.”
The biggest challenge Bowen said she’s faced so far is learning the financial side of the organization. However, Bowen said she’s enrolled in classes to help her better understand the financial workings of a nonprofit organization and has Stephens guiding her. Stephens will help Bowen with the annual budget in the coming year, as well as applying for various grants.
After retiring earlier this year, Stephens agreed to come back to the organization to help Bowen after the executive director who was hired to replace Stephens left. Though it was a big responsibility for Bowen to take on so early in her tenure with BFA, Stephens said she has picked up the complexities of the job quicker than he expected.
Bowen said her goal for 2017 is to learn and grow as much as she can in her new role as executive director.
“I really am open to learning as much as I can about the agency and the position and learning from Fred, anything he’s willing to teach me,” she said. “I just want to become very strong in my position so that I can feel confident in what I’m doing.”
As for the agency itself, Bowen said one of the goals that always exists is to expand BFA’s programs. Next year, she said BFA plans to launch a job skills development program to empower the agency’s clients to “help themselves” through learning basic interviewing skills and how to fill out a job application.
Stephens said he plans to stay on as long as necessary to help Bowen, a budding “star,” accomplish both her personal goal and the agency’s goals.
“This young lady has the God-given talent to be empathetic, to have a sense about what’s the right thing to do in this business and when to do it and how to treat people,” Stephens said. “She’s got the inside track on being successful.”
Reporter Makenzie Holland can be reached at 910-343-2371 or Makenzie.Holland@StarNewsOnline.com.