THIS MONTH'S BULLS EYE FEATURE: Thomas Christian “Chris” Rollins
Fifty-seven year old Thomas Christian “Chris” Rollins of Shamong made his way to South Jersey via Maryland and Atlanta. He has been with Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice since November of 2013, serving as Chief Development Officer.
Rollins grew up in Frederick, Maryland, where he enjoyed hunting with his dad and playing music. His father was a Maryland Circuit Court Judge who also served in Korea in the Army; his mother grew up on a dairy farm and graduated from Goucher College; and his sister practices law in their hometown and is the immediate past Chair of Frederick Memorial Hospital’s Board of Directors.
Rollins is a graduate of Hood College in Frederick where he majored in Communications. He received his MBA from Frostburg State University, part of the University of Maryland system. While living in Atlanta in 1997, he was recruited to South Jersey by Virtua, then West Jersey Health System, and joined Samaritan in 2013, which he proudly notes, cared for over 2,800 hospice patients and their families last year.
Rollins is married to his wife Beth, who he met when both of them worked for the West Jersey Health System. He counts Beth as his favorite person, saying, “In addition to having to put up with the likes of me, she has made me a better person. We make a great team.” Together, they have three daughters, Meghan, Annie and Grace, who are all students- one in middle school, one in high school and one in college, as well as a dog and two cats.
Music still plays a big role in his life. His favorite way to relax is to play his guitars, and if he could have a “do-over” in life, it would be to “stick with piano and learn to sight read music.”
Rollins’ business philosophy is direct: “Guard your personal and professional integrity”. His personal motto is “Be reliable, trustworthy, respectful and kind”. It is fitting, then, that he measures success by the “character and accomplishments” of his children.
Self described as honest, respectful and articulate, Rollins says his toughest decision was to leave his role as a chief development officer to begin consulting. “Though I knew it was something I would ultimately have to do at some point, it was difficult to leave a great organization, especially with a young family.”
The most important lesson he has learned in his life and career is “don’t make assumptions about other people.” In addition to his father, he credits Jim Lyons, Founding Principal of Pride Philanthropy, with being his best mentor. “We’ve known each other and worked together well over 25 years,” Rollins remarked. “Over that time, I’ve benefitted from learning fundraising as a volunteer board member, development officer and consultant.”
The honor he is most proud of receiving was the 2010 “Fundraising Executive of the Year” Award given by the South Jersey Association of Fundraising Professionals.
When asked if there was one thing that he could do to change South Jersey, what would it be? He responded “Ensure that the Pinelands are protected forever!”
Finally, Rollins says that his dad is the person he most admires. “His patience and respect for others earned him the trust and admiration of all who knew him.”