Photo taken by Corey Brown
Ginelle Sakima Roberts graduated from Graceland University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with minors in Spanish and Chemistry. She continued her education at University of California San Francisco, earning her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree and a Master of Science and Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry. She then pursued a successful career in dentistry for almost 15 years and is now shifting to a different line of work as Graceland’s newest alumni advancement officer.
During Roberts’ time in the dentistry field, she worked in a variety of arenas from a Community (Federally Qualified) Health Center Dental Director for West Hawaii Community Health Center to an Associate Pediatric Dentist in the Kansas City area. Her experiences in her career have led Roberts to think deeply about what it means to be a part of something larger than yourself and do the work that needs to be done for success.
When asked about why she chose to return to Graceland, Roberts said, “It feels like the right time for me to focus on a different area of service and I wanted to be a part of the dynamic leadership team that is pursuing great things for Graceland.” The pivot from clinical pediatric dentistry to the Graceland Institutional Advancement team may seem like a big change, but to Ginelle Sakima Roberts, the connection between the two is obvious:
When taking care of other people’s children, there is a foundation of trust that must be present to continue a successful relationship with children and their parents. As I look towards Graceland’s future, I hope to guide it with a holistic care approach with the leadership and community, just as I cared for children with the input from their parents, pediatricians, nurses, specialists, teachers, and grandparents. To me, the team approach to care has always been a priority.
Roberts was an alumni scholarship recipient her four years as a Graceland student and she understands what it means to come from a family who has generational roots on “the Hill.” However, it was the year before she attended Graceland that Roberts began to understand what “the power of together” really meant. Roberts competed and performed as a professional figure skater with the Ice Capades after high school, taking a “gap” year prior to attending Graceland. To her company, she was known as the skater who had the most friends and family in every city. From Texas to Wisconsin, Michigan to Missouri, Arizona and Delaware, she would be told to leave tickets at will call for “our Graceland friends” by her parents. After the show, she would meet them and be told stories of how they are connected to her family. Those moments are ones that stayed in her mind as she enrolled in Graceland the following year and began adding her own friends to her Graceland experience.
Graceland’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement Kristi Hettrick said, “Ginelle is a wonderful addition to the Advancement team, and we are so lucky to have her vision and voice for Graceland. I am personally grateful for her continued leadership in this space as she helps us bridge gaps in our current structure by working with students and alumni in order to build out a more holistic and inclusive approach to philanthropy.”
Ginelle Sakima Roberts will assume her position November 1 and Graceland is excited to welcome her back in this new role.