Serving Families At Their Most Vulnerable

Helping in a small way to make a difference in the lives of others.

How did you find your forever home at the Ronald McDonald House?

I can promise you as a little girl, I never said I wanted to be the Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House. But now, I can not imagine life without this opportunity. Being able to serve families when they are at their most vulnerable is so impactful and humbling.

What made you decide to work for a Non-for-profit organization?

In college, I got a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning. I worked on Comprehensive Plans and grants. When my husband, Joel and I had the opportunity to move to Gainesville, over 35 years ago, that is when things began to change for me. I realized I wasn’t having fun as a Planner. And after 11 years, I wanted to make a change. I had the opportunity to volunteer to help the Children’s Home Society in a fundraiser, and I knew I had found my passion. I was so excited to make a tangible difference in the lives of others.

When did you know you were in the right place?

When the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House offered me the Executive Director position. When I was offered the opportunity, I felt like angels knew I could do something great.

Who was your mentor during this journey?

I had many. Marla Reece, a neighbor, got me involved in the silent auction for the Children’s Home Society and also the Junior League, which was a huge influence in teaching me how to be a community leader.  Karen Rice, the Senior VP of Advancement at Meridian Healthcare was an amazingly strong woman leader. She supported and challenged me to grow and “beef” up my leadership skills.  And my husband Joel has been so loving and supportive, all along the way. He has always been there to coach me up and walk alongside me. When I look back, every position I have ever had taught me something and the people that came into my life, were all there to teach me something too.

If you could leave us all with one thought, what would it be?

I actually have 2 thoughts; I would love to share.  “When you follow the right path and do the right things with authenticity good things happen naturally” and “Be open to possibilities every day, because when you say No to something you are also saying Yes to something bigger.”

Sherry Houston

Executive Director at Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida

(352) 374-4404, ext 230


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