Her office is deep within Pensacola’s mirrored Gulf Power building. It’s down a hallway and behind a set of heavy doors. She has a nice view and a photo of herself with Florida Gov. Rick Scott on her desk.
“That’s what I get to do,” she dismissed the photo with a laugh, “go to fundraisers and have my picture taken with Rick Scott and his wife.”
Bentina Terry has a very nice office. But that’s not where she does her work. Not the real work, anyway.
“One of the things that we like to say: we are the citizens we serve,” Terry said.
The statement could serve as Terry’s personal mission statement. As Gulf Power’s Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Services she is charged with maintaining good community relations.
“My job is to help to make our community stronger,” she said.
In short, Terry’s job is to be an engaged member of the community. She sits on boards and immerses herself in various community organizations.
“It’s kind of what makes my job so fun,” Terry said, explaining that all employees are encouraged to plug-in—“we encourage our employees to coach a little league team or sing in the church choir.”
Long before she arrived at Gulf Power, the VP learned the importance of plugging into a community. She learned that—and much more—from her mother, who she considers a mentor.
Terry’s mother became pregnant at the age of 14. Along with raising her family, the young mother went on to tackle higher education and instill the value of giving back in her children.
“There are so many things in her life that could have gone awry,” Terry said, explaining how her mother was a positive example that overcame hardships. “The semester I graduated from law school, she graduated with her MBA.”
Sitting in her Gulf Power office, Terry reminisced about her childhood. She recalled a Christmas tradition that helped mold her appreciation for community involvement and providing a positive contribution.
As a child, Terry’s mom would take her children to the local hospital. As they visited hospital-bound patients, their mother would explain why such an act was important.
“She’d never let us grumble about it,” Terry said. “She’d say, ‘you are fortunate and blessed and these people are in the hospital on Christmas.”