Retired Chief of Staff, Hamilton County Government
University of Chattanooga, BS Elementary Education; University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, MA Administration
What is your favorite aspect of being a leader?
What advice do you have for women aspiring to be leaders in their field?
It’s important to be a risk taker. You have to be willing to share new ideas and do things in different ways than they’ve always been done. What helped me do my job well was to hire good people and then trust them to do what they needed to do.
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?
My mother, who recently passed away. She was a woman before her time. She owned businesses in a time when not many women did.
And two people I worked for at the county—Dalton Roberts and Claude Ramsey. They had two very different leadership styles and I learned so much from both of them; how to manage people, how to get things done. They both stepped out and did what was right. They really were strong leaders and I give them credit for a lot of good things that happened in Chattanooga.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing female leaders today?
Going through my mind right now is what’s going on with the presidential election… we see the challenges being played out at the highest level. We need to overcome to perception of women as leaders. Showing that yes, we can be strong; yes, we can be influential. The strong points of women in leadership is that we’re natural at multitasking. We’re visionary.
Approximately how many years have you been involved with CWLI?
Since the beginning. I’m not a founder, but I was one of the first members involved and on the Board.
What is your favorite part of CWLI?
In this organization, you meet so many people at the end of their career and also young people starting out. It’s a neat opportunity to learn from those who’ve been there and done that.
The ability to develop relationships with women, either within your organization or in other aspects of business. Relationships are key to success.
On which committees have you participated?
Membership committee, Public Policy committee since its inception, and the Board.
With what other community organizations/activities are you involved?
I’m on the boards of Green Spaces, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, ArtsBuild, and I’m part of the estate commission board with the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund (a position appointed by the governor). I’m also involved in the revitalization of Rivermont Elementary School.
August Member Spotlight: Jeannine Alday Looks to Retirement After Full Career
By Erin Wooddell
Former Hamilton County Chief of Staff Jeannine Alday has technically been retired for a while. But at the mayor’s request, she stayed on as a volunteer to help see the most recent phase of the Tennessee RiverPark project through to its completion.
“I’ve been involved in this project since literally day one and appreciated the opportunity to see it through its newest phase. The architects will probably miss me as I’m sure their phones aren’t ringing as much now,” she chuckles, tongue in cheek.
Part of the Tennessee RiverPark project included a 3-mile expansion of the Tennessee Riverwalk. For this latest installment, Jeannine helped raise funds and chaired the advisory committee during planning and construction. Now that her role in the project is finished, she plans to fully embrace retirement.
But that doesn’t mean she’ll be slowing down. Jeannine not only participates in several volunteer organizations in town, but she also sits on many of their boards. Her schedule, even while retired, may remain just as full as it was when she was working.
As a Chattanooga native, she’s loves to be involved in the community and encourages more women to get involved. In CWLI, she enjoys meeting young women on the rise who, she feels, can accomplish anything they put their mind to.
“It’s encouraging to see the excitement and passion of the next generation. They’ll be the ones who’ll be running this city, county, and major businesses in the future,” she says.
Jeannine believes CWLI also has the ability to play a major role in the local political scene. She’s looking forward to seeing more women get involved in public office to provide the balance of a woman’s perspective that she believes is still lacking.
She sees the same imbalance occurring in business, noting that women often sell themselves short and don’t showcase their confidence—a trait, she says, that is key to moving up in business. Having the confidence to give opinions freely, offering thoughts on how companies and communities can be better, and knowing the value of their ideas can help women conquer situations to promote themselves and have a successful career.
A critical way for women to achieve this, she explains, is to mentor other women.
“Whether you know it or not, you’re a mentor. Women watch each other. We watch others move up the organizational ladder. If you work to improve your situation, others will see it’s possible,” she says.
As someone who began her career by opening a clothing boutique, followed by a career in education, and then a shift to local government, Jeannine has provided just such an example of how determination and hard work can pay off.
Throughout her career in county government, she was able to play a role in the changes happening in the Chattanooga community. In something Bob Corker calls “city building,” she explains, she was able to be a cog in the wheel during Chattanooga’s revitalization years—a role she found both exciting and interesting.
In her 16 years as chief of staff, Jeannine was responsible for ensuring the promises and programs set by the county mayor and commission were being achieved and that everyone was working together to make a difference in the quality of life of the community and its citizens.
“In some respects, I was a shepherd, coordinating efforts to make sure we were all going in the same direction at the same time, toward the same goals,” she says.
Though she enjoyed her full and busy career, as Jeannine steps into retirement she says she’s looking forward to thinking about the future, not the past.
“Women must always look ahead,” she says. “Anticipate the next move and sometimes even create what’s next. Women are good that.”