Mentoring young people has been at the forefront of Mary Susan and J.D. Clinton’s lives for years, and now that opportunity is being expanded thanks to an Ole Miss Women’s Council scholarship at the University of Mississippi.
A $165,000 gift from INSOUTH Bank — a family-owned business and Tennessee’s oldest chartered bank — increases the Mary Susan Gallien Clinton Council Scholarship Endowment to almost $288,000. The Clintons made this the first OMWC scholarship endowment to include a paid internship at INSOUTH Bank.
“This is a combination of who we are as a bank and who we are as a family,” said J.D. Clinton, INSOUTH Bank’s board chair. “We felt this was a good program for the bank to adopt, giving students business careers that help them take care of themselves and their families.
“INSOUTH Bank is a community bank, with locations spanning Memphis to Jackson, Tennessee. We take care of our customers and our employees. Through our employees’ representation at Ole Miss and our family’s relationship with the university, we felt another natural step would be to try to help students — giving them a hands up,” Clinton said.
The Clinton Council Scholarship is designed for business or accountancy majors who are chosen on academic ability, leadership potential and financial need. Recipients must be residents of one of the following west Tennessee counties: Haywood, Madison, Shelby or Tipton and maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA to keep the award.
“The INSOUTH Bank and Clintons’ gift is an innovative scholarship by providing the traditional scholarship tuition funds and a unique internship opportunity with their family business based in the West Tennessee demographic,” said Liz Randall, outgoing OMWC chair. “Particularly for students pursuing business careers, an internship is the critically important experience needed in competitive job placement and affords the student professional education and development. Further, internships are quantifiably valuable through the mentoring that the student intern receives from the professionals in their workplace.
“Mentorship is a core value of the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy, and this gift has inspired us, as an organization, to consider ways in which we may assist our scholars in identifying internship and career opportunities within their respective fields. We thank INSOUTH and the Clinton family for this scholarship and the ‘hands-on’ opportunity it will provide bright scholars to jump start their careers.”
Randall continued, “In addition, we are grateful for Mary Susan Gallien Clinton’s support and extensive work on the OMWC as our immediate former chair and the Legacy Award chair honoring Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat, including her student Programming Committee chairmanship role.”
Ole Miss alumna Mary Susan Clinton believes many students need help finding internships and affordable living situations.
“Our INSOUTH Bank family can mentor them, help them navigate career preparedness and network with others,” she said. “In turn, I hope each recipient will become a mentor to those who will follow in perpetuity.”
In addition to leadership and philanthropy, mentorship is one of the OMWC’s three tenets and it’s what attracted Mary Susan Clinton to the Women’s Council, which offers $40,000 scholarships to recipients, provides leadership development and cultural/travel opportunities and supports study abroad and national and international internships. OMWC scholars have peer, career and life mentors and a new program, Council Connect, matches each student with a council member for emergencies.
“Anytime I see an opportunity to help someone, whether its mentoring or otherwise, I want to do it. Philanthropy is planting a seed and creating a root. You want to give from the heart,” she said. “And I don’t ever want that to end, even when I die. I plant seeds along the way so that other people will carry on what I have started.”
The Clintons, who reside in Naples, Florida, began mentoring young people years ago by becoming involved in service organizations that offered that option. They were among founders of the Naples Children and Education Foundation, which has raised $244 million to provide over 300,000 underserved children with needed services and resources.
“When we moved to Naples, I had furniture to give away,” Mary Susan Clinton said. “I called an organization that provided housing to at-risk children. When the truck came, there was a teen riding in it and his face was black and blue. I had never been around anything so traumatic, and I asked about him. The driver said, ‘This happened at the hands of his father.’
“I knew then that I wanted to mentor young people and identify the deficits in their lives where I could make a difference.”
As a OMWC member, Clinton offers cooking lessons to scholars in her second home in Oxford, Mississippi, as another means of mentoring. “It’s about trying to give them life experiences and share lessons I’ve learned. If I can give them some knowledge, maybe I can help in their journeys so they can have the positive outcomes they envision.”
Johnathan Wray Willis is one of the recipients of the scholarship.
“The Clinton Scholarship and the Ole Miss Women’s Council gave me an opportunity I never thought I would get — to go to a college I’ve loved since I could say ‘Hotty Toddy,’’ said Willis, a sophomore. “I’ve made lifelong friends and memories. Most importantly, this program has given me the opportunities to give back and help others.”
The Clintons both give credit to their family backgrounds and Christian beliefs for their commitment to helping others.
“It was very important to my parents for my sisters and me to be part of their mentoring at a very early age. Both were very active in helping underserved families,” Mary Susan Clinton said.
Clinton, a Savannah, Tennessee, native began her career after Ole Miss as a stockbroker with Morgan Keegan in Memphis, Tennessee, before founding Gallien Global Vision — an award-winning international wildlife documentary company in 1992.
Clinton serves on the INSOUTH Bank board of directors; and she has provided leadership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (as former vice chair, former board of directors and past executive board), as well as with many other organizations. She will begin a two-year commitment as the board chair of the University of Mississippi Foundation this fall. She also mentors members of the Alpha Psi chapter of Delta Gamma at Ole Miss as membership co-adviser.
The Clintons have two sons, John Denver Clinton II, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UM’s Patterson School of Accountancy, and Russell Hurst Clinton, who received an economics and computer science degree from Vanderbilt University.
By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development