By Betsy Finklea
Bringing positive change to the E-911 office and carrying out the county’s mission for the office are two of the priorities for new Dillon County E-911 Director Cassie Goins Kinney.
Kinney, a proud Native American of the Lumbee tribe from Fairmont, N.C., is used to breaking barriers and overcoming the hurdles of adversity. Kinney is the daughter of migrant workers, Daniel and Linda Goins, and learned early in life about the importance of a good work ethic. She said each year she and her family shuffled between North Carolina and Florida. She can remember at the age of six picking oranges in the groves in Florida or cropping tobacco when they got to North Carolina. It was a hard life, but one that would teach her life lessons that she would carry into the future.
“Growing up I did not come from a business family; my parents were migrant workers who shuffled us between North Carolina and Florida. In school, I was always at the back of the class, the one who did not raise her hand, the one picked last for anything,” Kinney said.
“So, for me to be in a leadership role as a E-911 Director speaks volumes of how little we know where our lives will go. Who would have imagined the daughter of migrant workers, who spent the better part of her 20’s on welfare, would become the first Native American E-911 Director for Dillon County?,” Kinney said.
“I share this because not one single person in my community of migrant workers, and I sometimes suspect my parents too, thought I would succeed. I imagine they knew I would be in a field that involved dirt but not one that involved books.”
Kinney moved to Dillon County in 1994 and has been here ever since. She started her career at the Dillon County Department of Social Services, where she spent seven years and worked in food stamps. She then worked for S.C. Medicaid, where she worked for approximately eight years.
Then her daughter, at the age of 15, went into kidney failure. Kinney was out of work for the next five years caring for her. At the age of 31, Kinney’s daughter finally got a kidney transplant.
Kinney came back to work in Dillon County Code Enforcement with Larry Jones, where she worked until 2019, when she became the first female Dillon County Planning and Zoning Director. She then was offered the position of risk manager upon the retirement of Winna Miller and now has transitioned to the E-911 Director, where she started on Monday, November 6th.
She believes her work in other leadership positions as well as her degree in Business Administration Leadership from Coker College, where she graduated cum laude, will serve her well in this new role.
“My whole professional life has been about management,” Kinney said. “Even when my title did not say manager, my peers would call on me for leadership. Coker is where I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management. I graduated Cum Laude and was a member of the National Honor Society, The President’s Honor Society, and Tri-Alpha Honor Society and won the honor of addressing the Class of 2020 with my Winter Speech. I understand business and the tools that are required to solve organizational problems that prevent growth,” said Kinney. “Additionally, I have been given insight on the knowledge of decision-making through working with Dillon County Code Enforcement Official and Dillon County Administrator.”
“Business management is challenging, especially with the world changing at a faster rate than we can sometimes keep up with. Management is all about competitive decision making, strategic negotiation, political dynamics, and strategic organizational design. I have been on both sides of an administrative desk, being helped and helping others. So, I can adapt to the balance of customers and its changing needs. Coming from a migrant daughter’s point of view, the struggle to adapt and change to a climate that is not originally yours and become its servant is strategic at its best,” Kinney said.
Kinney said she is a “people person” and a “problem solver” and she welcomes the opportunity of creating a culture of helping people in the E-911 office to help the public, being a productive entity of the county, and reach the goals and expectations of the county for the office. Kinney believes strongly in professionalism and being professional at all times. She wants to empower a change in culture in the office and hopes that staff will embrace the change to creating a superior place where people want to work and thrive. She hopes that employees will want to embrace this vision.
Kinney has a strong faith in the Lord, who is a driving force in her life and she does his work wholeheartedly. She said everyone has a moral compass and knows what north is for them personally. This is where the Lord has placed her, and she will work hard to accomplish his mission. Kinney hopes to offer strong leadership in the office and will be a leader who works with people not one who expects people to work for her.
Kinney appreciates the confidence that County Administrator Tim Harper has in her by hiring placing her in this position. She also appreciates the support she has received from her family including her four children, 12 grandchildren, and most especially, her husband, Shon Kinney.
By Betsy Finklea