Pensacola, Florida
Thursday August 21st 2014

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#3 Bentina Terry

With the sun streaming through the office window and bouncing around the executive digs, the Friday-afternoon possibilities seem endless. Outside, glints of light dance on Pensacola Bay.

“This is a beautiful place,” Terry smiles. “I don’t know how you can wake up here and not be happy.”

Terry is looking forward to the weekend, she plans to run a 5k charity race.

“It’s a good way to get some exercise in and give some money to charity,” she explained.

Terry serves as Gulf Power’s Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Services—it’s a day job. Her greater service to the community begins after hours.

The Gulf Power exec is involved with a growing number of organizations and issues, boards and committees. Recently, she was selected by Pensacola officials to represent the city on Escambia County’s RESTORE Act Advisory Committee—her peers on that committee elected her to chair the body.

“I don’t shy away from my obligations,” Terry said. “I always feel like it’s so much better for you to get in there, instead of sitting on the sidelines.”

Unsurprisingly, the community leader finds herself imparting advice to younger colleagues from time to time. They want to glean some of the wisdom that’s guided her along her path.

“The biggest piece of advice I tell people is to be themselves,” Terry relayed. “Just be the best you you can be, don’t try to be somebody else.”

And what advice might she offer to this beautiful place she serves?

“Embrace progress a little tighter,” Terry smiled, noting the area’s tendency to dwell and drag and resist. “I don’t know if it’s because we’re afraid of it or we don’t know it or what—stop trying to find the negative in everything, embrace the positive.”

One negative Terry would like to see the area address is its racial disparity issues. She’s not satisfied with the degree of segregation or inequality. As an African-American executive, she’s not satisfied with being an anomaly.

“I wish Pensacola was more of an inclusive community,” Terry said. “I think we’ve got to, as a community, learn how to embrace everybody. How do we help everybody rise up?”

She’s still searching for that answer. It’s a common quest she shares with Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May.

“We haven’t saved the world yet,” Terry said, “but we talk about it a lot.”

Back To The 2013 IN Power List