Gina Hawkins is the executive director of Keep Alachua County Beautiful organization. While taking a trip to Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia, she noticed how beautiful and powerful the falls were. It was then she decided to dedicate her life to protecting the environment. This dedication carried her to the University of Maryland, where she pursued a degree in conservation and resources development for her undergraduate studies and a master’s degree in food and resource economics at the University of Florida ten years later.
During her junior year at the University of Maryland, Gina received her first instance of real-world experience of her career when she received an internship at the American League of Anglers in Washington DC. During this six-week internship, she spent the majority of her time compiling a series of river descriptions for the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1976 while also aiding other organizations (i.e. Izaak Walton League and the World Wildlife Federation) with legal matters regarding the EPA.
At the recommendation of the director of the American League of Anglers, Gina then went on to work in the Clean Water Action Project, a national grassroots lobbying organization, and established an office in Gainesville, Florida. During her time with this organization, she went canvassing door-to-door in order to educate the public about on water quality issues. Such issues included the writing of the reauthorization bill for the Clean Water Act from 1972, the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, the Comprehensive Emergency Response Compensation and Liability Act (better known as Superfund) of 1980. Eventually, the group closed their office in Gainesville and Gina worked as a grant specialist for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science at the University of Florida. Gina worked as a graduate assistant for the solid and hazardous waste management center, now known as the Hinkley Center, a Type 1 State University System Research Center. As a graduate student, Gina joined the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), were she served as the technical director for seven years which mostly included tasks such as overseeing their waste reduction, recycling and composting training and policy efforts. She is also faculty for SWANA recycling management, compost management, and safety certification courses.
Gina served the City of Gainesville as the recycling coordinator for 15 years and as the public information officer for public works for two years. She was instrumental in the implementation of the pay-as-you-throw garbage collection system and dual-stream recycling collection system. Her emphasis was on helping citizens understand and participate in these programs.
Gina has been involved with KACB since the beginning of efforts to incorporate as a nonprofit organization. She served on the board of directors and became executive director in 2012.