From The Blog

New Managers Bring Diverse Experience, Skills to KICA

Mark Ruppel – Assistant Security Director
When Security Director Tony Elder joined KICA a year ago, he quickly realized that he needed someone with experience in emergency management. Mark Ruppel had worked for him in Charleston for years and Tony knew that Mark could bring the needed background and skills to Kiawah.

Mark’s varied career has spanned three decades, in emergency medicine (EMS), hospital development and marketing, catastrophic planning, public information, and, most recently, crisis
communications. Tony’s EMS background is the common thread through all the positions, which he says are all similar in that they are about management and relationship building.

Mark grew up in Pittsburgh and attended Bethany College in West Virginia, returning to Pittsburgh for his first post-college job. He was working as a paramedic and doing organ transplant in the early 1990’s when a position became available in Charleston. “The schedule and the beach looked a lot better than the snow in Pittsburgh,” he said. A quarter century later, he is firmly a Charlestonian.

Mark was working for Tony when Tony came to Kiawah. “I was devastated that he was leaving the city,” Mark commented.

The admiration is mutual. Tony said, “Having known Mark and having the pleasure of working with him for many years, I am pleased to have him join our KICA Security Team. His experience, professionalism, and excellent leadership skills have already proved invaluable in the short time he has been a member of our team. I look forward to Mark’s continued contributions to our KICA team and to those we serve.”

With KICA, Mark’s work will include pre-planning for emergencies, working with the relevant people and groups on Kiawah and nearby sea islands. Much of his time will be working with the town, and a couple of months into his tenure he is still learning who does what. He wants to get to know the membership and is eager to pitch in and help and provide excellent service.

Mark is married with two children ages 8 and 10. When he met his wife, they were both working in the same Charleston hospital but did not know each other. A neighbor set them up on a blind date. Most of his free time he spends with his family. “We go biking or fishing, and one of my kids is on a swim team; that’s a big time commitment,” he said.

Sarah Bond – Director of Human Resources

Sarah Bond joined KICA in March, after Maggie Hawkins retired. A 2010 graduate of Clemson University with a BA in Business Administration, Sarah had expected to specialize in finance or accounting, but found herself drawn to the “people aspect of business,” she said.

She worked for the last several years for Amazon in North Charleston, serving as site leader in human resources with responsibility for over 200 employees. However, her unit was moving to Columbia, and recently married, she chose to remain in the Charleston area. KICA is the beneficiary. “Sarah has made a smooth transition from Amazon to KICA,” said her supervisor, Jane Ovenden, Director of Finance and Administration. “She brings valuable experience along with a quiet manner and a customer-focused attitude – an all around great addition to the KICA team.”

Asked about the difference between her work in a large corporate environment and a small community association, Sarah said that with KICA, she is more broadly involved in the business of the association than at Amazon, but, “The core values of HR are the same wherever you are. I have a strong bias for customer service, and my customers are the KICA employees. It’s my job to be sure they can be successful, whether hourly employees or top managers.”

She is looking forward to interacting with homeowners as well, and learning how she fits into the Kiawah jigsaw puzzle. Sarah has found that she misses the networking opportunities; at Amazon, where she could easily connect with every HR manager in corporate North America. Knowing the value of networking, she will seek connections with other Kiawah entities (resort, town, developer) and through the national community association structure.

Sarah’s goals for KICA include simplifying the recruiting and application process for new employees, and making better use of electronic capabilities, including accepting applications electronically rather than manually and circulating them electronically. She is also looking at the orientation processes, and has asked herself, “What do I wish I had known in my first week on the job?” She wants to implement more features of a new software system, standardize safety training, strengthen and promote a wellness program, and enhance training for new managers. “We often promote from within, and I want to set new managers up for success.”

Sarah and her husband, an Amazon employee in self publishing and a friend since high school, recently bought a house and are renovating it themselves. The house is on a pond, and she loves fishing and boating, but her special love is her dog Penny.