A familiar face in Bainbridge’s business community and a tireless volunteer for several worthy causes has been appointed as Bainbridge State College’s interim executive director of the Office of Institutional Advancement.
Bainbridge State President Richard Carvajal appointed Lauren Harrell on Friday after a concentrated search was launched to fill the vacancy left from former Executive Director Dale Fuller.
“Bainbridge State College is thrilled to welcome Lauren to our team,” Dr. Carvajal said. “She has been a true difference-maker in this community for some time, and I know that she will do an excellent job leading our Office of Institutional Advancement and supporting the College’s Foundation.”
Harrell is a long-time resident of Bainbridge, and since 2010, she has been the president of DeHildren Realty, where she has also served as a very successful agent.
Her list of community involvement activities is extensive and includes the Friendship House, Little Black Dress, the Bainbridge Decatur County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Bainbridge Rotary Club, where she was named Rotarian of the Year.
“My passion for business and helping individuals will transition well into making our students’ dreams come true through higher education,” Harrell said. “I am looking forward to furthering the mission of the College and the Foundation, and with the partnerships between the Foundation board and the professional team at the Office of Institutional Advancement, we will truly enhance the community.”
Along with overseeing the Office of Institutional Advancement, Harrell will serve as the executive director of the College’s Foundation, which recently topped more than $1 million in assets, of which more than $835,000 is secured for future scholarships.
“Having just passed $1 million in total assets for the first time, our Foundation is now poised to grow significantly in the coming years, enabling us to help many more students reach their educational goals. I know that our Foundation’s leaders look forward to working with Lauren to achieve that goal,” Dr. Carvajal said.
Jeff Findley, publisher of The Post-Searchlight and incoming chair of the Foundation, played a role in the search for a new executive director.
“We are excited to have Lauren coming on board to lead, not only the efforts of the Bainbridge State College Foundation, but the growth and advancement of the college as a whole,” Findley said. “There are some very exciting times upcoming for the College, and Lauren’s enthusiasm and know-how comes at a perfect time.”
Harrell takes the helm of the Institutional Advancement office at a very pivotal time in the Foundation’s history.
During a recent meeting of the College’s Foundation, Dr. Carvajal introduced the results of a fund-raising feasibility study conducted over the summer. That study showed very strong support for the college’s mission, and college supporters who were interviewed for the study likewise expressed a strong willingness to provide further support for scholarships, improved facilities, and academic innovation and excellence.
As a result, soon after learning about Harrell’s appointment with the College, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously at its Nov. 22 meeting to enter into a contract with the J.F. Smith Group, a renowned consulting firm with experience in conducting capital campaigns. The group will assist Harrell and the Foundation in the planning and execution of a multi-year fundraising campaign that organizers hope will net the college more than $1 million to support student success.
Charles Bowles, the present Foundation chairman, said as the College celebrates its 40th anniversary, prepares to kick off its first-ever bachelor’s degree program and launches its new campaign, Harrell’s addition is yet another significant development. He emphasized her ability to reach those throughout the entire region the College serves as well as the local community.
“Lauren is a dynamic person who will contribute a lot to the Foundation and to the College as it continues to grow,” Bowles said.
Harrell played collegiate soccer at Wesleyan College and attended classes at the University of Montana and Bainbridge State College before earning her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida State University.
Harrell is married to Mark Harrell and they have three children, Tanner, Katie and Ella.