New MCPH Administrator Brings Finance Background To Position
Lorie Ann Gentry brings a strong background in finance and accounting to her new position as administrator at Mills County Public Health.
The Marysville, Kan., native replaces Julie Lynes, who recently retired from the job and a lengthy career in public health.
“I actually have more of a business and finance background. I am an accountant,” Gentry said. “What I can bring to the job is 25 years of experience in the corporate world. Of that, I have seven years where I worked for government – higher education. I worked for the University of Oklahoma and the University of Colorado. I moved around a lot and ended up in Georgia. I worked for a really great company called Chick-fil-A.”
Gentry said she believes her finance and accounting experience, time spent working at public universities and the leadership skills she developed during her 12 years at Chick-fli-A’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta, make her a good fit for overseeing a public health agency that relies heavily on grant funding to carry out its programs.
Her work in finance and administrative support for the Colleges of Medicine at both the University of Oklahoma and Colorado provided Gentry with an understanding of how governmental agencies function.
“Whether it’s higher education, county, local, state or federal, government is government,” she said. “You have all of that bureaucracy and pretty much the same policies and fiscal processes but because I came from the College of Medicine, we had a lot of our funding that came from grants. A lot of what we do here in public health is grant funded. The taxpayers of Mills County want us to have a lot of grant funding because what we can’t get covered with out grants, is subsidized by the county.”
Gentry has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kansas Wesleyan University and an accounting degree from Oklahoma. She grew up in a farm family in Marshall County, a rural community similar to Mills County in many ways.
“Where I grew up, it was family, faith and community – back in a time when neighbors helped neighbors,” she said. “I can remember growing up and neighbors would go from one farm to the next during harvest, put up hay or whatever. If you grew up on a farm, you learned responsibility, you learned strong work ethic and you learned community.”
Before accepting the position with MCPH, Gentry most recently managed a team of 11 accountants that all lost their jobs when their employer closed its office in Omaha and moved the entire department to Michigan. She was familiar with MCPH and other Mills County agencies through the assistance they provided when her home and possessions were lost in the 2019 Missouri River flood event. In her new job, she won’t be making the same money she could as an accountant, but Gentry said she’ll get greater satisfaction being in a position that’s helping others. During her interview with members of the Mills County Board of Health, she was asked why she would accept a job that paid less than she was used to making.
“I remember telling them, you can’t put a price on happiness,” she said. “I would much rather be making an impact where I live, where people are important and I’m making a difference instead of making more money.”
Gentry said she doesn’t plan to make major changes at MCPH and is relying on an experienced and talented staff to continue offerering the many programs and services Mills County residents are used to the agency providing.
“Honestly, I inherited a wonderful staff that Julie (Lynes) and Sheri (Bowen) both put together,” she said. “Whether it’s Lorri Greiner in nursing who has been on the front lines with COVID, Melody (Ragland) or some of the other people in our office.
They’ve been here for so many years that I can rely on them to continue to do what they’re so good at and I can add to that with my leadership and experience.”