February 2007

The Secret Life of M.C. Strong

Author: Linda S. Hopkins

Mary Catherine, “M.C.,” Strong knows a secret. It’s nothing new. Not really. It’s the same secret shared by many of the world’s greatest philosophers, leaders and teachers. She’s dying to tell…

It’s no secret that M.C. has had a positive impact on our community. The former Chamber of Commerce executive, island realtor and local television host, has served as a Lowcountry leader for over 16 years.

Prior to moving to Hilton Head Island, she graduated from Fairmont State College in her home state of West Virginia. Having worked for a local bank on and off during high school and college, she fell into a career in the banking industry, starting in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and later moving to Greenville, where she was also active as a volunteer for the Chamber of Commerce.

When she moved here, answering a newspaper ad for the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, she started a new career as a part time information specialist. “It was a fancy title for the person who answered the phone so everyone else could go to lunch,” she said, with her signature humility and good humor.

But after her first marriage failed, as a single mom, she found herself needing fulltime employment. Recognizing her talent and potential, Chamber President, Bill Miles, offered her a position in the membership department. She quickly moved up the ranks from sales to membership director, eventually topping the ladder as vice president of member services. “It was sort of my calling, she said. “I just loved it.”

Throughout her career with the Chamber, M.C. made appearances at every local event, working the crowd with her engaging personality, always leaving a warm glow in her wake. Today, she still keeps up with who’s who and what’s happening by hosting Hilton Head Today, a local program broadcast by WHHI TV—a job she inherited when the former host asked her to fill in until they found someone permanent. That was five years ago.

But M.C. admits that she hasn’t always been the confident communicator she is today. “I used to be so nervous getting in front of people,” she said, confessing early fantasies for getting out of speaking engagements. Once, when headed to Sun City on a Chamber mission, the thought crossed her mind that having a car wreck on the way might be a more pleasant alternative than standing before an audience. But she made it there safely and lived through the speech, resolving to find a way to overcome her fear.

Through a 12-week Dale Carnegie course, she was able to do just that. “It was better than college,” she said. But that’s not her secret…

In 2003, M.C. left the Chamber to pursue other interests. “The Chamber was so good for me. I wouldn’t be the person I am without the Chamber,” she said. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me, but I let it consume me,” she explained. “I needed balance, and I needed to get my life back.”

Though many people assume that her TV gig is her primary job, M.C.’s current fulltime occupation is real estate, working as a buyers’ representative with Gateway Realty. “I’m kind of a quiet realtor. I don’t want to lose friends over it,” she said, explaining that most of her clients are from out of town. “At the Chamber, I worked mostly with the business community and visitors. Now I realize that there is a huge segment of second-home owners who love Hilton Head Island. It’s fun getting to know and assisting them.”

M.C.’s 2007 goal is to take better care of herself. She is pleased with the progress she has made in the spiritual realm, and her weekly Bible study group is a top priority. “Now I want to tap into health,” she said, vowing to exercise more and carve out more personal time in the coming year.

As she seeks greater clarity and purpose in her life, she is opening up her heart and mind to a new way of thinking. “Thoughts have frequencies and you attract what you’re thinking,” she said, explaining the basic philosophy behind The Secret, a powerful motivational program, acclaimed to hold the key to unlimited joy, health, wealth, relationships, love—everything you have ever wanted. (Visit www.thesecret.tv to learn more.)

“It has changed my life,” said M.C., who meets with her “Secret Sisters” once a week to study the program and reinforce the principles she is attempting to apply in her daily life.

To know M.C. Strong is to see the power of positive intent in action. Behind her bright, happy smile is a genuine love for people and a sincere desire to connect with and help others. The secret is out, but perhaps it is something she instinctively knew all along.

M.C. has been happily married for eight years to real estate developer, David Strong. Her son, Forrest, now 19, is a student at Coker College in Hartsville, SC. In addition to her work with Gateway Realty and WHHI TV, M.C. has recently agreed to serve as “Agenda Consultant” for the new Stein Mart in Bluffton. She also serves on the Board of Regents of the Hilton Head/Bluffton Leadership program, on the Salvation Army Board and on the United Way marketing committee. She is a member and past president of the Zonta Club in Bluffton. In her spare time, she enjoys golf, tennis, Bunko, fine dining, good wine and good friends.

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