by Sabie Crowder
For a woman who was born, raised, and currently lives in Flintstone, Georgia, Ronelle Sellers is no small town girl.
“I never thought there was a ceiling,” Ronelle speaks to her drive when complimented. “I had encouraging parents and strong female role models in my life. I want to be that for other women.”
Her main priority is to be an encourager to all, but number one is her daughter, Savannah. Ronelle has spent many years coaching basketball and cheerleading, attending performances, and teaching her how to drive. It wasn’t too long ago Ronelle was doing those same activities herself.
Ronelle graduated from Chattanooga Valley High School as Valedictorian. “That may surprise people!” she laughs. She frequently highlights the importance of her self development in sports, participating in softball, basketball, and cheerleading.
Ronelle received a presidential scholarship from Shorter College, but opted to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she was a cheerleader.
“Everything stemmed from that,” Ronelle notes.
Enlisting the help of the enthusiastic cheerleaders, UTC officials would have the team give tours, help at events, and Ronelle quickly became very comfortable speaking in front of large groups.
“It was senior year and I felt like I had everything on my resume except an internship. Cindy Todd was the Marketing Director for CBL at Hamilton Place at the time, and she needed cheerleaders for an appearance for the popular show ‘Coach’. I worked out a deal so she got four cheerleaders…and I got an internship.”
After an internship at Hamilton Place, go-getter Ronelle had a second internship at the Tennessee Aquarium. Ronelle worked with Cindy leading up to the opening of the Aquarium. “We traveled a couple of weekends getting ideas and preparing for the grand opening; I had so much fun,” Ronelle remembers with a smile.
She began in radio sales at Christian radio station, RX107, as her first job out of college.
“I’m a salesperson at heart. I love talking to people and figuring out solutions to fit their needs.”
Using her background and relationships built in the past, Ronelle transitioned back to Hamilton Place as the Assistant Marketing Director. Before long, she moved to Morristown, Tenn. and High Point, N.C. where she was the marketing director for two respective malls.
A few years of living away from Chattanooga and Ronelle, an only child, was getting ready to start a family and decided to move back to Flintstone.
“I wanted my mom and dad to share in the excitement of their first grandchild so we moved just a few miles from them,” she reflects proudly.
Ronelle became the Marketing Director at Hutcherson Henderson & McCullough in 2000.
“I was accustomed to marketing to the general public, I loved the challenge of marketing CPAs to specialized industry groups! Donnie Hutcherson hired me in 2000 and when my daughter went to kindergarten in 2007, I wanted a bigger challenge, a way to market outside the box.”
Ronelle and Hutcherson strategized and HHM graciously helped Ronelle create an affiliate company, Southside Creative Group, to serve as an “outsourced marketing department” for small and medium sized businesses.
“I served on the Chamber’s Small Business Council for 17 years. I loved the start-up culture and the tenacity and drive of small business owners, and I knew I wanted to help. Either business owners didn’t have enough time to implement their ideas, or they didn’t know which customers to target. Southside Creative was established to be their marketing resource.”
At the time Ronelle joined, HHM had 40 employees and 6 partners. Now with three affiliate companies, over 150 employees and 17 partners, HHM has recently expanded into Memphis, giving additional presence in the Southeast.
To be elected board chair, I can imagine that you would need to understand the organization, have experienced both great and frustrating times, served on multiple committees, and believe in its mission. Ronelle checks those boxes and more.
Ronelle first got involved with CWLI by assisting with marketing the annual Impact dinner, and now after 15 years of membership, she’s ready to serve this year-long term with grace and (you guessed it) impact.
“The board has three main tenants this year. The first is connectedness which Rowena Belcher used as the Rotary theme a few years back. Involvement is so important at an organization of our size: join a committee for a smaller network of women, volunteer at an event, get connected. The second is Listening Fridays. One Friday per month, I will be ready and open to hear feedback on what’s going well or what’s not. If the organization can help you find a mentor, let’s do it! If you are ready to make a career change, we’d love to help connect you. The last tenant is our theme: For such a time as this. For such a time as this we have opportunities to rise up and encourage each other, to be involved even when you have a hectic schedule, and to contribute your gifts to one another.”
I’m sure you’re wondering, like me, how does she do it all?
“It’s always been a balancing act. My incredible parents have always been supportive and willing to help wherever needed. In different seasons of life I have adjusted my schedule to accommodate the organizations or activities in which I felt I could have the most impact. While my family is always first, usually one organization a year takes the majority of my focus. I’m excited this year it is CWLI, an organization that’s had such an amazing impact on my life.”
On behalf of the organization, I’d like to thank Ronelle for her leadership and look forward to 2018 as a year of involvement, listening, and connectedness.
To read more about Ronelle, click here.