The board of directors of Great State 2019, Inc. on Friday announced the formation of Great State Alabama (GSA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
According to a release, GSA was founded in part by former Governor Robert Bentley (R-AL), a board-certified dermatologist who continues to practice medicine in West Alabama. The organization’s website lists Bentley as its “board chairman and medical director.”
The stated purpose of the organization is “to support, advocate and drive improvement in the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalized men, women and children” in the Yellowhammer State. GSA reportedly undertakes this mission through four key program areas: rural health care; foster child scholarships; criminal justice reform; and pre-k support.
“I have always had a heart to serve the people of Alabama. Through this nonprofit organization, I can continue my service in new ways by reaching out to the individuals who need it most,” stated Bentley.
“With this organization, we are laying a foundation which will allow us to serve thousands of Alabamians each year, continue to grow and increase our capacity for years to come,” he continued.
The new nonprofit stems from Bentley’s Great State 2019 entity, which was named after the strategic plan he announced in 2016 while governor. The mission of GSA is similar to the core tenets laid out in the Great State 2019 plan, which was “aimed at fundamentally changing Alabama, opening doors of opportunity, clearing the path to prosperity and solving decades old problems by the time Alabama celebrates its bicentennial milestone.” The strategic plan likewise had “a special focus on Alabama’s most rural and underserved areas.”
There is additional synergy between GSA and its genesis in the governor’s administration; GSA is led by executive director Daniel Sparkman, who served as press secretary to Bentley and then Governor Kay Ivey when she assumed the helm of the state.
GSA’s board of directors is composed of an additional seven individuals from a variety of professional fields, including Rebekah Caldwell Mason — the former senior advisor and communications director to Bentley when he was governor.
“It’s an honor to be able to serve the people of Alabama in this new way. All of us involved are excited about the work we have done so far, as well as the road ahead and what it will mean to so many people in our state,” Sparkman said in a statement. “We have hit the ground running and look forward to expanding our capacity in the months to come. It’s clear that when we all put our minds together for good, the possibilities are endless.”
The GSA release outlined that the first area of focus for the nonprofit is to bring health care to Alabamians who have limited access, especially those in rural parts of the state.
To assist in alleviating the disparity in regional access to health care, GSA is holding a series of Great State Rural Clinics, providing a range of completely free examinations, diagnoses and treatments. The first series of clinical offerings is skin cancer screenings, with plans to hold dermatology clinics and family medical clinics in the future. These clinics are reportedly held twice a month in rural communities across our state. In fact, the next planned clinic is a skin cancer screening to be held on Saturday, April 10, at Carrollton Baptist Church in Pickens County.
GSA noted that its current fundraising priority is to acquire a standalone mobile unit so that clinics can be held in more rural parts of Alabama.
To find out more information on the nonprofit, click here.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn