On Saturday, Betsy Trent will walk out of her office for the last time. After 25 years as an employee of the March of Dimes, including the last six as the executive director of the north central Florida division, Trent has decided to retire.
The March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help mothers have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies. The nine-county area in north central Florida, which Trent oversees, is one of its most successful regions.
“I inherited a great program in that my predecessor and the predecessor before her worked with a division that was recognized as one of the No. 1 divisions in the country,” she said. “We say that in March for Babies we raise more per capita than any place else in the country.”
The North Central Florida division has raised nearly $10 million since Trent was appointed to the executive director position in 2008.
Trent said her run as the executive director has not always been easy. Trent took over at the time of the recession in fall of 2008, when donations were hard to come by.
“People and businesses really started doing business in new ways,” she said. “People had to work harder to get contributions because people were making less and were not as sure of jobs.”
During that rough patch, Trent focused her attention on bringing on a staff of young professionals who had the energy and ability to network with the younger generation.
One of those young professionals is Kyle Croft, who now works as the Alachua County Community Director for the March of Dimes and has worked closely with Trent for the past five years.
“Betsy is a determined and persistent leader,” Croft said. “When she sets a goal there is almost nothing that will stop her from reaching it. She is always thinking of new ideas on how we can increase our fundraising efforts.”
According to Lindsay Krieg, who has worked closely with Trent since the summer of 2008 and is now an employee at UF Health Shands Hospital, Trent is tenacious and fearless when it comes to her job.
“Once she has an idea in her head, she will not let it go,” Krieg said. “And there is nothing too big, or too grand that she would ask for on behalf of mothers and babies. I don’t think I can summarize this in just one story. It is simply who she is.“
After spending the first 18 years of her life on a farm in Frankfurt, Kentucky, Trent attended the University of Tennessee, where she got a degree in home economics.
“Growing up on a farm, I was really streamlined in home economics because I did sewing and cooking and some of those types of things as a project growing up,” she said. “So I always had this interest in home economics and family and I always wanted to do it from a marketing or public relation’s type of role.”
Upon graduation, she accepted a job in Atlanta with Armstrong Court Company where she worked as marketing representative. While there, Trent got married and had three children. She eventually ended up in Gainesville in 1987. A year later, she got her start with the March of Dimes and remained for a quarter of a century.
In her retirement, the woman known around the office as ‘Pit Bull Betsy’ plans to stay busy.
“I enjoy athletics,” Trent said. “I run, and in my retirement I look forward to having more time to run and not having to get up at six o’clock in the morning or 5:30 if I’ve got an early morning meeting”
Trent said she also plans to spend more time with her family.
“Being a grandmother is a new role that I’m looking forward to growing and developing in, and to supporting the children and just being involved in other things in the community in a different aspect.”
As for the transition to the next executive director, a position that has yet to be filled. Trent believes it will be a challenge, but trusts the staff she is leaving behind.
“It’s been a great joy to work with the staff that I have and the volunteers, and I know they will continue the mission of the March of Dimes because they are committed to the cause and they are committed to our babies,” she said.