As the new executive director of the United Way of Cass and Crow Wing Counties, Kimberly Rollins, of Pine River, didn't always know what she wanted to do with her life. In a way, the path to her current lifestyle started on a fairway.
"(I've been) golfing with my dad since I was very little," Rollins said. "My mom would make my dad take my brother and I out on the golf course even though he probably didn't want to. He taught us from a young age the discipline of golf and all that entails."
Rollins' father, Kevin Larson, then CEO of CTC, has always been a major influence on Rollins. She credits him with not only introducing her to golf, but helping her to become a local golfing star in her high school years. Rollins and her golfing teammates are still well regarded in the Pequot Lakes athletic circles.
"I graduated in '04 and played on the Pequot Lakes golf team," Rollins said. "We went to state four times, won state twice as a team and I got fifth as an individual."
Golfing had many benefits for Rollins. It helped her to create a strong bond with her father, and through that bond he taught her many life lessons.
"Golf is a difficult sport," Rollins said. "It's mentally and physically challenging but it helped us form a deep bond. He's my rock and that's the only reason I got a scholarship to college, because of golf and because of my dad pushing me to find what I'm good at and stick with it. That's what I have always done. He's such a great role model."
She attended North Dakota State University in Fargo on scholarship. At first she didn't know what to major in. Both her father's and her passion for golf helped her to find her career.
"My dad was always trying to push me to figure out what I was good at and what I liked," Rollins said. "He brought me in for a couple different job shadowing opportunities at CTC when I was in high school. When I went to college he had me come back and do more job shadowing to understand where I wanted to go in life and what the path I wanted to follow is."
Among those whom Rollins shadowed were two CTC employees working in marketing, public relations and sales. That career path appealed to her because it depended on communication abilities she had learned from her father, who could lead a conversation or listen just as easily. It didn't hurt that her father told her she might be able to combine that career path with another passion.
"He said not many girls know how to golf and they don't drive the ball as far as me," Rollins said. "So, then if I do marketing and sales I'd be asked to go on the golf course all the time. I thought that sounded fantastic."
She graduated from NDSU in 2008 before moving to Warroad, then Minneapolis and finally to Brainerd where she worked for Nor-Son.
"I was there almost six years," Rollins said. "It was a great firm. I moved to Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union and was with them about a year and a half before this opportunity came about. I wasn't looking for a position. My life is full. I'm currently going back for my MBA (Master of Business Administration). Then I do a lot of volunteering on the side for my personal life as well."
The position with United Way was different in that she became a leader of human resources staff and a board. It is a lot of responsibility, but she is proud to be part of a network that helps charities and communities in need. Even outside of work, Rollins is involved with charities.
"A lot of my time right now is actually donation time," Rollins said. "I am volunteering and co-chairing the Walk to End Alzheimer's this year so that's taking a lot of time. There's a lot of pieces I do in my personal life that is volunteerism. I enjoy giving back to my community. That's just who I am and who I grew up to be from the spawn of Kevin Larson, following in those footsteps."
Rollins has a personal interest in the Walk To End Alzheimer's. Her mother, Donna Larson, was diagnosed with the disease three years ago. She and her father had suspected the illness was coming for some time. It was part of what made Rollins decide to come back to the Brainerd lakes area. Upon returning about eight years ago, she met her husband, Steve Rollins, the son of former PR-B teacher Dorothy Rollins. They married five years ago and live in Pine River.
Like her father before her, she and her husband take advantage of the local lakes, golf courses and everything in between.
"We are always golfing; he now enjoys golfing," Rollins said. "He didn't always golf before me. He's a huge angler and avid hunter. We picked up, a few years ago, sporting clays, so that's been fun. We do a lot of that. We go fishing all the time. We go boating with my family. My parents love to golf as well. Snowmobiling - love to snowmobile. Ice fishing - I could leave it or take it. I'd rather just leave it but I'll do what my husband likes. We've got to spend time together. We just like to be active in the community."