Union Leaders Follow Mission with Community Service Away from the Desk

Q&A with Dr. Gladys Gossett Hankins, Board of Trustees Member at Union Institute & University, and Kimbrea Browning, VP of Enrollment Management at Union Institute & University.

Dr. Gladys Gossett Hankins
Board of Trustees Member at UI&U

1. The Links Inc. motto is: Linked in Friendship, Connected in Service. What does this motto mean to you?
The Links, Incorporated motto is a combination of two of my core beliefs about the important connection between friendship and service. It essentially means that if people are going to work together, they should like and get along with each other.

Friendships/relationships are important in every situation where people work together. This is because poor relationships can make the difference between a highly productive work environment that gets great results and one that is toxic where, of course, output suffers greatly. Because The Links, Incorporated is a volunteer service organization, it is practically impossible for a group of people to render great service that transforms lives and improves our communities if it is comprised of people who do not like each other or have good relationships.

2. Why is community service important to you?
As things currently exist with massive economic, educational and social disparities across our country and the world, the only way we will thrive and grow is for those who have the ability and the means, to aid, support, help, coach, and mentor, to give of ourselves and our resources to those who have critical needs but not the wherewithal to meet those needs. Furthermore, it is a privilege and an honor to help others – which ultimately makes the world a better place.

3. The Links, Inc. has five program focus areas: The Arts, National Trends and Services, Services to Youth, International Trends and Services and Health & Human Services. They include all five in the Girls STEAM Academy. Why is the STEAM Academy so important to the mission of the organization?
The Links, Incorporated is an organization comprised primarily of women of African heritage who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the identities, culture and economic survival of people of African origin through cultural, educational and civic programs. As STEAM represents science, technology, engineering, the arts and math, it is intended for those most underrepresented in these fields. Females have historically had fewer opportunities to enter these fields than males. Therefore, introducing and encouraging more African American females to pursue these fields breaks down barriers and smoothes the way for continued progress for all.

4. What impact do you hope your efforts will have on the community you serve?
My expectation and hope is somewhat philosophical. It is that every single effort counts and contributes toward making an even bigger difference. For example, as we are able to positively influence and improve the lives of any, they, in turn, are able and likely to positively influence and improve the lives of others. It’s the ripple effect at its best.

5. How does your community service work relate to your connection to Union Institute & University?
I feel that through my life works, I embody the mission and values of this great institution, even more so since this is the university from which I earned my PhD and which contributed toward my becoming a person who strongly desires to make a difference. It is also a university on whose Board of Trustees I serve with pride.

Kimbrea Browning

Kimbrea Browning
 VP of Enrollment Management

1. The Links Inc. motto is: Linked in Friendship, Connected in Service. What does this motto mean to you?
I truly believe that it is through the service that friendship develops and grows. When we are linked in true friendship our connectedness to the people we serve becomes stronger.

2. Why is community service important to you?
When we serve others we have this amazing opportunity to be heart led in every way. We live in a somewhat selfish “it’s all about me” society that has really taken on the stigma that giving is not what is important. Giving is the most important, honorable, loving act you can display.

3. The Links, Inc. has five program focus areas: The Arts, National Trends and Services, Services to Youth, International Trends and Services and Health & Human Services. They include all five in the Girls STEAM Academy. Why is the STEAM Academy so important to the mission of the organization?
It’s about mentorship and exposure. When we can expose our Girls STEAM Academy to what is possible for them in this world, they can dream. They can envision a life much different than what they thought was possible. It’s an amazing experience witness their excitement at the possibility to dream.

4. What impact do you hope your efforts will have on the community you serve?
My hope is that through whatever efforts of service I provide, I am able to positively impact those I serve. To see the change and impact on others has helped me evolve as a person and I’m most grateful.

5. How does your community service work relate to your connection to Union Institute & University?
As the Vice President of Enrollment Management, my goal is to ensure our mission and vision is felt with each and every student we have the honor to connect with. As a higher education administrator, my best day is when I see or hear stories of this incredible transformation of a student who has put in the work to change their life—the life of their family and future generations. Again to be a witness to this every day, I’m humbled and honored to have an opportunity to serve.