New boss for York Tech’s Hood Center was already in the building

Rhonda Cauthen, left, and Mikki Rentschler adjust centerpiece prior to an event at the Hood Center at York Technical College.
Rhonda Cauthen, left, and Mikki Rentschler adjust centerpiece prior to an event at the Hood Center at York Technical College.

Michelle “Mikki” Rentschler, new director of the Hood Center, was the consummate Air Force brat.

Born in Reno, Nev., she lived in six states, attended 11 schools by third grade and had six teachers in first grade alone before her family settled in Greer, where she graduated from Riverside High School.

The constant moves didn’t bother her.

Instead, they challenged her.

The extrovert of three children, it was her job when they arrived after every move to get on her bike and find friends for her and her two brothers.

In the third grade she told her mother if they continued to move, “I will meet all the children of the world.”

Rentschler fell short of meeting her worldly goal, but when it comes to Rock Hill and York County, she comes close.

She worked at Carowinds for 15 years as a merchandise buyer.

She ran her own business, the Party Stop, in Rock Hill. Rentschler, the business woman, worked tirelessly and nonstop. It meant that Rentschler, the mother, missed lots of soccer games and doctors’ appointments.

“But I put a checkmark on my bucket list,” for being her own boss. Her mom once told her she would have to be her own boss or a lawyer because “you are so argumentative.”

She started reading to students at her son’s school, Rosewood Elementary, then became the president of the school’s parent-teacher organization, which then led to seven years on the Rock Hill school board – a position she said was often an “ungrateful job,” but a passion. She is now president of the Rock Hill Schools Education Foundation, which raises funds for teacher grants, district initiatives and the Back the Pack nutrition program.

She worked for the Rock Hill York County Convention and Visitors Bureau as office manager, a title that doesn’t convey all she did.

She was the chairperson for the Come-See-Me Festival in 2004 and the chairperson for this year’s Christmasville.

All the experiences – from trolling for friends on her bike to reading, working and volunteering – will come into play in Rentschler’s latest job at the Hood Center.

If the Hood Centthe er doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry. The new branding effort has not been fully rolled out.

The Hood Center is the Baxter Hood Center at York Technical College, named for the college’s second president.

While the name is shorter and possibly catchier, the Hood Center offers some of the most flexible meeting space in the region. There is a ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,000 people, a theater with 175 seats. All told there are 16 different meeting spaces.

Her colleagues say Rentschler’s variety of experiences and reputation make her a natural choice to manage the Hood Center.

“She has a known reputation, has been in leadership roles and has the ability to get out and talk to the community,” said Lisa Meadows, who was Rentschler’s boss at the convention and visitors bureau. Rentcheler’s attention to detail is essential in event planning, Meadows said.

Her organizational skills were one reason Jim Vining, her colleague on the school board, recommended her for the job.

Rentschler said she is excited to take the job “because there was nothing to fix.” Baxter Hood already has a solid reputation in the community.

A couple of years ago that reputation was tarnished when the center’s management was forced to put some restrictions on catering at the facility to meet health rules. The Hood Center does not have a full kitchen. The center now has six catering partners, and if those firms can’t meet a customer’s needs, Rentschler said she will find someone who can. The center recently found someone who could cater a Jewish wedding there.

Rentschler wants to continue to serve organizations and businesses in Rock Hill and York County. She also wants to make the Hood Center a place for regional meetings.

Most of all she wants her connections to know the Hood Center is there to serve them.

And if you go looking for her, Rentschler is easy to find. Her new office is next door, literally eight feet, from the office she had when she worked for the convention and visitors bureau.