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VIProfile: Terry Morgan

By Gay Lyons

Terry Morgan did not start out to be a philanthropist. The Oklahoma native headed to the University of Central Oklahoma to pursue an accounting degree, but she realized, while working for one of her professors, that her chosen career path did not suit her. “I’m a people person,” she said. Sales proved a good fit, but after her first child was born, she didn’t want to travel, which was something she had enjoyed during her years in sales. It was a job she didn’t get that led Morgan to a career in philanthropy.

“There was an opening for a Director of PR and Marketing at Baptist Medical System, but it had been filled,” she recalled. “They said, ‘You sound like someone who’d be perfect for our Associate Director of Development.’ Five years later, I had the opportunity to lead a major campaign for Baptist Medical System in Little Rock.” Morgan was the National Director of Foundations for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte, North Carolina. She came to Knoxville to work for the Baptist Health System--as President and CEO of Baptist Health System Foundation and Senior Vice President of Baptist Health System.

Since August 2013, Morgan has served as the first Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of East Tennessee, a non-profit serving as a catalyst to transform the lives of low income women and girls in 25 counties in East Tennessee. She knew about the Women’s Fund from a membership event at Ann Bailey’s house. Her friends, Joanne Parker, Marty Begalla, Brenda Wood and Kay Clayton, persuaded her to consider working for the Women’s Fund. It would be a drastic change.

“The Women’s Fund is the first small organization I’ve ever worked for,” said Morgan. “At Baptist, I had 17 members on my staff. I was used to a large organization and staff and services. I was used to having ‘people.’ This is my first opportunity to work in the trenches. I see these young girls’ faces, and I know we are making a difference.”

“I have an amazing board,” she continued. “Some of the best and brightest East Tennessee has to offer, and they share a passion for the Women’s Fund.” The board and Morgan are passionate about breaking down barriers for low income women and girls in the areas of life and work skills and education. The biggest solution, they believe, is education. “Having a postsecondary education can lead to economic security, higher income, more stable employment and job benefits for women and girls,” she said. “The Women’s Fund of East Tennessee is working to change the narrative in our region so that girls and women feel supported and encouraged to pursue a postsecondary education. Whether it’s taking classes at a community college, getting a certificate from a technical school or attending a four-year college, education opens doors.”

“The Women’s Fund is unique,” she continued. “We research, vet and partner with exemplary non-profits to make change for low income girls and women. We work with donors, organizations, foundations and individuals who share our passion for breakingdown barriers, especially in education. We advocate to make change in domestic violence and human trafficking across the state, and we share what we have learned at a free advocacy forum each year. We believe that when you invest in a woman, you invest in a family, a community and ultimately a region. By helping women and girls, we create better communities for all of us.”

Morgan and her husband, Bruce, owner of Synergy Insurance Group, have been married since 1992. Together they have four children and four grandchildren. Morgan is happy her career path diverged from her original plan. “Working in philanthropy is more or less a calling,” she said. “There is a sweet joy there between the art and science of a joyful giver, a strategic asker and a grateful recipient. Digging into community needs and working with diverse leaders to solve problems is what keeps me challenged.”

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