My name is Gayle and I use she/her pronouns. I am white- and able-bodied, married to my husband of 20+ years. We live on land that I honor; I roam and care for land that was and is cared for by the Tutelo people.
I grew up in Eastern NC in a lineage of white tenant farmers, including my parents who never owned the land they farmed or the house they lived in. My generation is the first to attend college and make the transition from small farms to college-educated professionals. I benefited from access to college scholarships and low-interest loans, as well as my parents’ and teachers’ expectations that I would go to college. I grew up in the 1950s - 60s in the racially segregated South. It was only as an adult that I began to learn the history of racism that intentionally separated African Americans from poor and working-class whites, like my Scot-Irish and English ancestors, for the economic benefit of other whites. My generation of high school students in the South integrated the public schools; my experience as a high school junior was the beginning of lifelong learning about structural racism.
At 70 years old, I am beginning to live into being an elder. After working nationally and across the Southeastern US for my entire career, I stepped away from my career in mid-2021. My last work was part-time consulting with philanthropic foundations on strategy and leadership for racial equity. I also have a small coaching practice to support people making vocational or leadership transitions. I am discerning whether to step away from my coaching practice. For 20 years, I led work at the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation to invest in building the capacity of local people, organizations and networks across the Southeastern US to advance social justice, racial equity, and sustainable development. I’ve also worked in a Midwestern philanthropic foundation and in NC nonprofits and academic centers focused on youth development. Along the way, I became and remain a facilitator with the Center for Courage and Renewal.
Now, it is time for me to focus my energies closer to home. “Home” for me is my own body and spirit as I enter the eighth decade of my life. “Home” is my husband, dog, gardens, and quilting/play studio; it is extended family; it is dear friends, some of whom are aging and precious to me. And “home” is now Winston Salem. Since 1993, I have lived here while focusing my energies on the US South. I’ve made good friends here, but I’ve not been deeply involved in social justice work in the community. 18 Springs has long been a home for my personal wellness and most recently a place for my continuing learning on healing the wounds of racism and white privilege. 18 Springs is my grounding center for discovering ways in which I might live into my deepest desires for dignity, love and justice here at home in Winston Salem, at this stage of my life.