A self-described introvert, Jenny Tippett never aspired to become Laurinburg’s “information person.”
In a way, though, she has spent her professional career in training to serve the city.
Tippett first sat in the desk of Laurinburg’s city clerk in January of this year, replacing Dee Hammond, who retired on December 31 after 12 years in the position.
Tippett is a Laurinburg native, having grown up in Laurinburg and Maxton and graduating from Scotland High School. She graduated from St. Andrews Presbyterian College with a degree in business and economics in 1982.
“I started off going to college to be a veterinarian,” she said. “Freshman chemistry changed my mind.”
After college, Tippett joined the U.S. Navy where she was stationed in Norfolk, Va. and Fallon, Nev. as an administrative officer.
“When I was in Nevada, I was an administrative officer for the first two years and for the last year I was a training officer,” Tippett said. “The program trained aviators to lead strike attacks, so it was primarily administrative and getting their classes scheduled and getting their berthings scheduled and so forth, but I actually did sit through the class and passed it myself.”
In 1990, she married Lt. Mike Tippett of the Laurinburg Police Department and, after five years as a military officer, returned home.
Tippett started work with the city in 1999 after working with Southern National Bank and Gordon, Horne, and Hicks P.A.
“For the first 12 years, I worked downstairs with planning and zoning, doing whatever was necessary,” Tippett said. “I drafted ordinances, resolutions, basically trained to come up here. I did work very closely with Dee Hammond and I was very fortunate to do so, because I couldn’t have been trained by anyone better.”
Upon Hammond’s retirement, Tippett was the deputy clerk and the logical choice to ascend to the city’s top administrative position. Stepping up to OVERSET FOLLOWS:a more publicly oriented position, she said, has been something of a challenge.
“I’m held more accountable and responsible - It’s a much more visible position in the community, because the city clerk tends to be thought of as the information person for the city,” she said. “The citizens can call me and if I can’t answer their questions, then I send them to the right person or department that can assist them. I’m the liaison for the mayor and council with the city manager and the city staff. It’s a challenge because I tend to be an introvert and I’ve had to work on being more assertive.”
Although Tippet sometimes finds herself beset with mountains of paperwork and other challenges as city clerk, she is unlikely to be deterred from her mission in serving Laurinburg.
“I care a lot - I may not show it at times, but I internalize a lot,” said Tippett. “I’m very proud to work for the City of Laurinburg. We have a lot of absolutely wonderful employees here who are very caring and want to do the best they can, and I’m one of them.”
Although she has never in her life been a stranger to Laurinburg, Tippett frequently finds herself learning something new about the city and its residents.
“Laurinburg has changed drastically since I was born and changed drastically from when I left in 1985,” Tippett said. “We’ve got a lot of new people in town and a lot of the people that I grew up with are no longer here, they’ve moved on to other cities. I know some people, but I’m having fun getting to know new people.”
Working as city clerk, where her familiarity with legal and business matters serves her well, is the culmination of Tippett’s professional experiences.
“I think it pulls together my background in many ways, particularly from the law firm because I’m still drafting ordinances and resolutions, looking over contracts and agreements, and preparing the agendas and council packets, but it also pulls in some of my education in business administration,” she said. “In the Navy, I was very proud to serve this country, and now I feel like I’m serving my city - that’s a natural progression for me, because I’m very civically oriented and very community oriented.”
Tippett is also a member of the Pilot Club of Laurinburg, where she currently serves as treasurer. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and cheering on her grandsons Jamie, Hardy, and Nick in their Optimist baseball games.
“One thing that I realize, having lived in a couple of different places - people sometimes talk about there being nothing to do in Laurinburg,” said Tippett. “There is plenty to do, you just have to get out and do it. That’s something that I actually used to say when I was younger, but now I look around and see what’s going on - you just have to step out and make yourself available and join in.”