Making a Difference: Spotlight on Chris Harkins

We continue this column with a volunteer who has filled many leadership roles in Fishing Creek Farm Homeowners Association during the past 10 years.

She’s Christine Harkins, who was President of the Board (2014-2017), Vice-President of the Board (2013-2014), and member of the CapEx Committee (2010-2012).

Chris is married to Gary and has two daughters—Lauren Hatch (husband Tim and newborn Oliver) and Kimberly (Mike). Chris and Gary live at 3421 Hidden River View, having moved into the neighborhood in March 2005 when their daughters were in high school.

Professional Life

Originally from Rhode Island, Chris attended Providence College, studying art/art history as an undergraduate and Business in graduate school.  Additionally, she participated in a graduate program in three-dimensional/jewelry design at Rhode Island School of Design.

Chris started her career at Balfour as a product manager for the Corporate Division.  With experience in corporate recognition, awards, and gifts, she joined high-end specialty retailers, including Tiffany, Michael C. Fina, and Tiny Jewel Box, combining her expertise in art/design and corporate division start-ups.

In 1998, Chris started her own firm—Capital Gifts and Awards—which Gary joined five years later.  Capital Gifts specializes in gifts, awards, logoed apparel, and promotional items for law firms, businesses, the government, sports teams, and universities.  Additionally, Chris and Gary own Command Challenge Coins, which markets challenge coins and associated products to the military, police, and first responders.  Capital Gifts has provided “protocol gifts,” which are customized diplomatic gifts on behalf of the government, for every president, vice-president, secretary of state, and others since Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Community Work

Chris joined the CapEx Committee in 2010 when conversations commenced about infrastructure improvement and the required assessments. “At that time, many of the community’s important assets needed attention,” says Chris. The tennis courts were her first focus. Barbara Holch, who Chris calls a “force of nature,” then asked her to help with the renovation of the clubhouse interior. “This was a lot of fun and the final results were rewarding,” notes Chris.

Chris attributes the success of the clubhouse improvements to the work, talents, and time of many volunteers in the community, who not only helped to plan the project, but also saw it through to completion. She mentions the specific expertise of Jim Schaffer who helped the community identify the projects priorities,  Steve Carroll, who was able to get a low interest-rate loan, which made the clubhouse project financially viable, and Eamonn McGeady, who brought project management and engineering knowledge to oversee the entire renovation. The renovation was completed in 2013.

Chris joined the Fishing Creek Farm HOA board as Vice-President in 2014, not even a year before then-President Steve Everett died unexpectedly in November. Voted in as President the following February, Chris’ focus was financial management to: 1) ensure no major special assessments in the next couple of years; 2) maintain the improved infrastructure; and 3) enhance the reserve fund.

Property management was an additional focus. “Jennifer Dengler, who joined the Board, introduced us to Mary Wallace, who was able to take a lot off the volunteers’ plates. This was a step toward the resolution of the larger role of property management, now assumed by Tidewater,” says Chris.

Chris comments that the time commitment as President was large, particularly before the slate of board members was complete.

Overview of Board Participation

Notes Chris, every new board builds on the success and initiatives of the prior boards.  Progress typically occurs in small steps that lead to larger initiatives and lay the foundation upon which incoming boards build. “I really enjoyed meeting new people in the community and learning to listen to different perspectives, insights, and opinions.  It was a privilege to serve the community and I am thankful for the opportunity.”

Advice to Others About Volunteering?

Volunteering is a great way to get involved in the FCF community, says Chris. “Volunteers should understand that there can be challenges in making changes within the community and that it takes both a willingness to participate and the desire to see your commitment through to fruition.”

In Your “Free” Time, What Do You and Your Family Enjoy Doing?

“In my free time, you usually can find Gary and me outside. We enjoy the water, tennis, biking, walking, and family and friends – that pretty much defines Fishing Creek Farm!,” concludes Chris.

 

For a complete list of our Volunteer Spotlight articles, click here.

Comments

  1. Jim Shaffer

    Really nice piece on Chris, Nancy. I like this feature. Helps us all learn about each other in ways we wouldn’t without your perspective.

    Jim Shaffer

  2. barbaraholch

    This is great!!! It’s not only interesting to learn about neighbors and current things going on but also to walk down memory lane and reflect on past accomplishments and people who impacted our neighborhood. Thank you so much Nancy and great work Chris and Eric Sprague. We have a lot of talent and treasure among our HOA!