Mary Beth Gentry, Executive Director and Founder
The life journey that propelled Mary Beth to found YOUNG WOMEN ON THE MOVE began 42 years ago when she served in the ghettos of Oakland, California as a young adult. Fast forward to 1998 when a move to Kansas led to working with a team of extraordinary physicians at KU Medical Center who designed a new interdisciplinary approach to empower women with knowledge, skills for self-care, a support system to increase their resiliency amid daunting physical challenges, and to give them hope to preserve their families.
Mary Beth’s outreach efforts with KU into the Kansas City, KS schools and community revealed to her the stark reality of a broken community failing its children. Surveys showed that for these children, these young women, their highest priorities were to find a job, avoid pregnancy and abusive relationships, cope with dysfunctional family relationships, find better ways to resolve conflict, do better in school, and gain confidence in themselves.
In 2005, Mary Beth took a leap of faith and started a nonprofit with the hopes of making a difference in the lives of adolescent girls in the heart of Kansas City, KS. She named it YOUNG WOMEN ON THE MOVE to symbolize girls moving toward the future with healthy minds, bodies, and spirits that focused on life’s possibilities. Today, the program serves 150 young women in six Kansas City, KS schools and enjoys the school district’s full endorsement as its mentoring program for girls.
Mary Beth is a graduate of University of Tennessee, earning a B.S. in Home Economics, Nutrition and Institutional Management in 1967. She has held various jobs in the nutrition and education fields as a registered dietician, caterer, restaurant owner, Director of Development at University of Nevada School of Mines, and Assistant Dean of External Affairs at University of Kansas School of Medicine. In 2005, she earned her master’s certificate in Community Health and Development at University of Kansas.
Mary Beth has been married to her husband, Jimmy, since 1972. They have one daughter and reside in Lenexa, KS.