What is your vision for Knoxville 10 years from now?
I would love to see more cross-collaboration with non-profits along with more intentional urban planning. First, I have had the honor of speaking with countless local organizations that are building out programs or creating community opportunities that sometimes another non-profit has already executed. It would be beautiful to see more ‘think tank’ type workshops for non-profits to bounce ideas off each other so they can leverage their successes, and challenges, for the better. Secondly, I would love to see the development of more children-centric amenities weaved throughout Knox County neighborhoods. There seem to be a handful of specific areas where parks and activities are, however, there are incredible opportunities for green space or family-centric commerce that I believe could bring communities further together. I know personally that Knoxville is a fantastic place to raise little ones and I look forward to watching intentional urban planning take place over the next 10 years so that family memories can continue to be made, closer to home.
What is Knoxville’s Best Kept Secret?
To me, Knoxville’s best-kept secret is that you can be everywhere or nowhere in a matter of minutes. Knoxville gives you the opportunity to be part of the mix or relaxing in the solitude of nature at a moment’s notice. It provides you with the best of both worlds!
What would you do to strengthen Knoxville?
To strengthen Knoxville, I would encourage more entrepreneurs and business leaders to get in the classroom. Students cannot learn or create interest in areas that they do not know even exist. From first-hand experience, speaking with students at UTK or different non-profits’ after-school programs, it has been enlightening to share a different perspective of what sales and entrepreneurship could be. These opportunities can spark intrigue and curiosity in young people and could perhaps make a positive impact on them far beyond that one-hour speaking commitment. I believe this is key in retaining Knoxvillians long term!
What is your favorite Knoxville memory?
Best Knoxville memory, or maybe two? I am fortunate to have had both my sons here, so by bringing two people into the world that will forever be “from Knoxville,” I cannot think of a better memory than those.
What is your favorite book or what book is currently on your nightstand?
Two of my favorites are “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek and “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey.
What is the best advice you have received from a mentor, and who was that mentor?
“Never walk past a mistake.” I have had the privilege of working alongside Shawn McLeod, President of Axle Logistics, for almost seven years now, and that simple line of his embodies a leadership practice I live by. Holding not only others but myself accountable is key to success and it all starts in the details.
What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
Always advocate for yourself because it is no one else’s job to.