Manager of Strategic Communications at the Tennessee Valley Authority
College of Charleston for my B.A. in corporate communication and UTC for my M.B.A.
Tell us a little about you (short bio ~150 words).
I grew up in South Carolina and spent summers in the mountains of North Georgia. That’s a special corner of the world I still frequent, but I got to Chattanooga as soon as I could — the week I graduated from College of Charleston, to be precise. This community has provided so many opportunities for me and I try to pay those forward any way I can. I’m a Myers-Briggs ESTP who has channeled a chronic surplus of words into a career in marketing and communications. I’ve done corporate, government, small business, nonprofit, consulting, and startup worlds. I’ve done utility, insurance, education, and travel industries. This variety of experiences has developed a well-rounded perspective and extreme adaptability and agility. My passion is travel, so I have a lot of pent-up demand coming out of the pandemic. I’m hoping to hit country #25 (I think!) by the end of this year, destination TBD.
What motivates you?
That feeling when you stick the landing. Connecting, collaborating, bringing together people and ideas, driving forward motion, developing a solid strategy, and finally executing and delivering results. So satisfying.
When you’re not working, where and how do you spend your time?
Working in my garden, cooking and trying my hand at new cuisines and techniques, stalking Google flights and researching destinations, volunteering, hiking, camping, hitting up the market on Sundays, reading, catching up with friends, and going for walkies with my ride-or-die Shih Tzu, Cookie.
What advice do you have for women aspiring to be leaders in their field?
Find your voice. It can feel scary and risky to bring your own personality into the world of corporate archetypes, but being authentic will help you make better connections, find your allies, and own your wins (and losses) in a way that’s so much more meaningful and satisfying. If they don’t respect your voice, they’re not your people.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
I had the privilege of starting my career working with Dan Summerlin in marketing at Unum. Dan took a chance hiring a 21-year-old straight out of college and gave me the space to pitch ideas, run with new channels, celebrate my wins, and force me to laugh through – and learn from – my many fails. I try every day to model those leadership skills: taking smart risks, getting out of the way of good talent, encouraging my teams to reject “the way we’ve always done things,” and building a culture where we can laugh through the rough patches. I’ll always be grateful for him investing in me and modeling what true servant leadership looks like.
What has been your proudest moment in your career?
Walking into the lobby of Synovus bank on Market Street, terrified to the point of nausea, with a personal check to fund a new business account. I started a business in 2017 with two partners to develop and market a collection of adventure travel experiences in Europe and South America — the “Trail to Table Collection.” After serving some very happy clients, we ultimately closed the business after two years to focus on other pursuits. But I feel proud of that early moment for a few reasons. I had two partners I respected willing to invest and build with me. I had the trust of a global network of partners committed to working with us. I was confident and passionate about our business plan and ready to put skin in the game. And I was scared, but I did it anyway. I’m the proudest of that last part.
What strides do you think members can take to make more of a difference in women’s leadership issues in the local community?
Ask for help, and offer it to others without prompting. Women leaders often struggle to ask for the supports we all need to be successful personally and professionally. But yet I find women are typically enthusiastically ready to help one another when they get an ask. If we could flip those tendencies on their head — make our needs known, make explicit asks, and offer specific assistance proactively when you can. There’s certainly times where a “no” is appropriate and necessary, but think of what we could accomplish together if we were more effective getting to “yes” in supporting each other!
How would you best describe the benefit found in joining this organization?
I love that it’s a hub in the community, both for networking to make new relationships but also a one-stop shop for maintaining existing contacts from different areas of the community that you might not otherwise be able to keep up with actively. The programming is high-quality and workable for busy leaders, and always a good reminder of how important it is to continually invest in ourselves and other women.