Compelled by growing polarization & ugly politics,
Penry offers a strong voice for the community.
Born May 20, 1970
Married to Todd Gustafson,
CRNA at KershawHealth
Anniversary: August 11, 2007
(This list is not exhaustive-does not list all the jobs held in high school and college!)
"Born and raised here, I am a lifelong South Carolinian. Todd and I have been married over 11 years, and we have 3 unique and wonderful children together. The oldest is a junior at Clemson University (Go, Tigers!), and the other two attend Lander University in Greenwood, S.C. and Hampden Sydney College in V.A. Todd has been a nurse anesthetist (CRNA) at KershawHealth over 14 years. He plays golf if the sun is shining. Scrabble has become a competitive sport for us. Empty nest syndrome? Nah, not yet-we really do stay quite busy.
I attended Columbia area schools growing up and graduated with honors from Cardinal Newman High School in 1988. I did a little bit of everything in high school including editing the school yearbook and serving as captain for the Junior Varsity Cheerleaders. I was honored to have been selected for the prestigious Bobbi Rossi Memorial Scholarship.
My extended educational background is rooted at Newberry College where I attended as a Founders Scholar and graduated second in my class (1992). My major was sociology with minors in Spanish and Psychology. Newberry College selected me for "Who's Who Among American Universities and Colleges" and also chose me for their annual citizenship award. I served as Student Marshall and student tour guide for prospective students and on several other school wide committees. An active member of Kappa Delta Sorority, I served in leadership positions on council 3 years out of 4. The chapter awarded me their highest honor of the Laura Johnson Award and also the scholarship award for the last 2 years in college. While at Newberry College, I was also granted a National KD Scholarship, Theatre Scholarship, Spanish Scholarship, and Founder's Scholarship. A full graduate assistantship in the Department of Sociology at USC (1992-1994) was next on my academic bucket list. I conducted original research on gender role stereotypes in magazine advertisements, while also working with a professor and going to graduate school full time. During graduate school, I lived at home and helped care for my grandmother who lived with us,
For a brief time I worked for the Department of Housing for USC-Columbia. I was awarded the administrative assistant "Employee of the Year" award for outstanding customer service, work ethic, and presentations given at the SCHOA conference.
Later professional work includes sales and business. When I was married to my first husband, we purchased an established and successful restaurant. The restaurant business was not my calling, so I left it behind with the divorce. Soon I was working as a case manager for Richland/Lexington Special Needs Board, securing Medicaid services for adults.
In 2005, Delta Foremost Chemical Corp. recruited me to work as their S.C. sales representative. Within months I rose to their top 10% earning a placement in their prestigious "President's Club." I also received their rookie of the year award my first year with them. Traveling (most of SC was my territory) and working with a variety of industries/businesses were the most rewarding parts about being a salesperson. At that time I was a single mother working on 100% commission (benefits, but NO salary)! For my persistence and hard work, I was awarded a trip to Bermuda and a Bahamas cruise.
Through the years I've also been the caregiver of several family members, arranging and providing whatever has been needed. Since Todd and I have been married, I've been blessed to devote my time entirely to family, church, and community. We both enjoy traveling, local theatre (especially Trustus Theatre and Kershaw Fine Arts), and reading. In recent years I have rekindled the joy of performance through the Kershaw Fine Arts Center. 'Betty Blast' in Footloose (October, 2016) was my first role in over 25 years! I also starred as 'Truvy' in Steel Magnolias February, 2017. My husband and I joined together to perform in You Can't Take It With You in January, 2019, playing a married couple. We had so much fun that we are currently in rehearsals for a musical showcase coming up on May 19, 2019 at the Kershaw Fine Arts Center. (We'll be singing our first duet!) I will continue to engage in the arts locally as my schedule permits."
My personal trademarks include being respectfully direct, maintaining a strong personal faith, living a life of character, and serving with passion & compassion.....and the blond hair, of course.
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND BALANCED BUDGETS. In the Gustafson household, if the money is not clearly budgeted, it is not spent. Claiming a budget cannot be balanced is disingenuous, and S.C. can do it! Very serious problems in our state need to be addressed now....not put on the back burner or given a temporary band-aid for some "other" elected officials to handle. The state pension program, for example, is a ticking time bomb that will implode if not fixed soon. Using legislation to reduce wasteful spending, keep taxes low, and balancing the budget are Penry's top fiscal goals.
When preparing to run for U.S. Congress in February, 2017, Penry Gustafson made this video, viewed on Facebook & Youtube over 3,500 times.
WATCH IT HERE:
Matthew 20:26. "Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant."
Current Memberships and Associations:
"Leadership and participation in community service are at the heart of who I am. I served as the coordinator/leader for Operation Inasmuch, a city wide community service event involving 6 churches and Benedict College. For 6 years I worked with Meals on Wheels, delivering lunches and helping my clients as needed (giving rides, paying their water bills, inviting them to Thanksgiving dinner with my family, etc.). The time spent on the Thrivent Financial Board of the Midlands was enriching and enlightening. I've volunteered with many additional organizations including: Transitions, POMC (Parents of Murdered Children), Newberry College Kappa Delta Chapter Advisory Board, H.U.G.S. for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity, Graceworks, Justice for All, American Red Cross, Food for the Soul, Kershaw Fine Arts Center, Faith Coalition On Gun Violence, Bridlewood Farms HOA, and more."
POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT. I have been a Republican my whole life, but I struggle with the stereotypes that are sometimes associated with that word---because I've never fit neatly in "one box." When we first moved to Camden in February of 2015, I was involved with the Kershaw County GOP. My first political rally was at the State House with Nikki Haley as the guest speaker back in 2008 (she wasn't governor back then). The S.C. State Fair, Meet and Greets, Republican Party SC State Convention, SC House Committee meetings, attending seminars and workshops and Kershaw County Council meetings--this is how I spend much of my time now! I enjoy being up to date with current legislation and keeping in contact with our legislators. The legislation seminar during the Victims Right Conference in April, 2017 was very insightful concerning the bills being considered now by our House and Senate. I often contact our representatives and do not hesitate to share my thoughts through "letters to the editor" in our local papers. Early in 2017, the College of Charleston hosted The Pathway to Politics for Women, and I signed up to learn more about how I can be best elected. The 7th Annual Faith and Freedom BBQ for SC congressman Jeff Duncan on August 28, 2017 was a great opportunity to get to know more people in the Republican Party and across the state. Senator Joni Ernst was the guest speaker, and we were able to speak privately before the event started-she inspired me! I also attended a leadership conference sponsored by FACL (Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership) in September in Greenville, SC where Senator Ted Harvey from Colorado was leading.
WHAT'S UP NOW? Ugly politics turned me off last fall, but it also prompted me to run for office. So, I tried doing something never done before in SC, and no, it did not work! I was briefly affiliated with the American Party in March of 2017 (3rd largest party in SC)--- and I tried to be a Republican simultaneously. The SC party platform rules just do not allow for that kind of politics. I really did charge into new territory attempting to maneuver two parties at once. I've been a strong Republican since my first vote in 1988, and I have no current association with any other party. There's more to this story, and I expect people to ask questions. I welcome them!
Last year I joined the Columbia Economics Club where I learn about global and regional economies through fantastic guest speakers. The most recent gathering hosted Dr. Gerald Dwyer as the speaker and the topic was quantitative easing from 2008 to today. Also, I'm a weekly volunteer at Food for the Soul here in Camden, SC. I do whatever is needed-- cleaning, cooking, prepping, serving, etc. My 3 year term with the Board of Directors for Food for the Soul began in January, 2018. I've also been planning and leading devotions for elderly residents of Morningside Assisted Living of Camden.
Associations and memberships include Capital City Republican Women's Club, Greenville County Republican Women's Club, SC Federation of Republican Women, Columbia Economics Club, Columbia Junior League, and Food for the Soul Board of Directors, & Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
My church family is important to me. Being a 4th generation member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Columbia, S.C., I serve as a lector, communion assistant, photographer, and substitute Sunday school teacher. Evangelism, YOGS (Youth of Good Shepherd), & Operation Inasmuch are examples of places I have led and organized within the church. With this busy campaign, my schedule will be tight, but I plan to stay involved."
In June of 2018, Penry represented South Carolina's 5th Congressional District at the United States Global Leadership Coaltion Summit in DC. Maintaining the International Affairs Budget was the top subject, and she was able to discuss our international embassies and international world relief efforts with SC Congressmen Joe Wilson and Ralph Norman in their DC offices. Senator Tim Scott also welcomed Penry as he does for his constituents each Wednesday. Penry is not only committed to the local community, she is committed to America.
Penry is an optimist who feels any problem or issue in South Carolina can be addressed with integrity, respect, and a level head. What those in S.C. have in common is stronger than what divides! Our national and local leaders need our prayers asking for wisdom, patience, and guidance .
PO Box 601, Camden, SC 29021, United States