Lifelong local resident Mike Gibbons said he couldn't let fear hold him back from a great opportunity.
That is why he and his family are moving to Charleston, where he will take on a new role as the executive director of the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts.
“All the pieces seemed to align, and the only thing that would've held me back is fear,” Gibbons said. “It's a little scary to pack up the comforts of home and what you've always known, but this is an exciting and wonderful challenge.”
Gibbons said the Alliance is an advocacy group that supports about 60 art agencies in the Charleston tri-county area.
He added his experiences and duties in Aiken have made him “uniquely qualified” for the position.
One of his most well-known roles was his tenure at the Aiken Standard where, from 1996 to 2012, he worked and made his rounds as an advertorial writer, staff reporter, copy editor and eventually as the paper's managing editor.
Gibbons also is known in the community for his column, “Mike's Life,” which runs weekly in the Aiken Standard.
Gibbons also served as the executive director of the Aiken Community Playhouse Board of Directors.
His wife and kids were also involved with the Aiken Community Playhouse, which is why Gibbons believes the playhouse is one of Aiken's greatest gifts.
In August 2012, Gibbons accepted a job as the chief development officer for the South Carolina Golden Harvest Food Bank and worked in the Aiken warehouse. His duties there required him to leave the Standard, which he said was a tough thing to do.
“It was hard leaving journalism, but I felt like I had done everything. So I considered Golden Harvest a new challenge for me to take on,” he said.
Always looking for new challenges, Gibbons' upcoming transition will take place before the end of the month.
He was born in Aiken in 1972 and, besides obtaining his bachelor's from the University of Alabama, he has always lived in the area.
While he believes Charleston will be a positive step for his family, Gibbons said he and his family will always be a part of Aiken.
“This has been my only home and the only home my kids know,” he said. “It takes a very cohesive community to develop places like Hopelands (Gardens) and Odell Weeks. It's just a great city that says, ‘We care about the quality of life here,' and that's why we'll always be a part of Aiken and come back to visit.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June 2013. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.