Occupation: Senior Director of Workforce and Community Engagement
Hometown: Lynchburg, Va.
You are one of the newer members of Lynchburg City Council and also have time with the School Board under your belt. Tell us about your roles with the city over the years.
As the Public Information Officer for Lynchburg City Schools, I was a liaison between the community, media and various agencies citywide. I learned that collaboration and building strong networks solves problems and forms effective change. This role prepared me for serving as a School Board Member and now an At-Large City Councilmember.
Why did you want to step into the leadership role of vice mayor?
I believe it gives you the opportunity to have a more strategic voice in future planning for our city, and it offers a level of access to information sharing and review that I appreciate.
You will be leading the city with Joan Foster, who has a long history with council and as mayor. What have you learned from her during your time with council?
Joan is a strong leader who has a passion for helping people. She is action-oriented and seeks measurable results to meet community needs. I appreciate Joan’s desire to be proactive in addressing citizen issues and concerns.
What excites you the most about being a part of council?
The opportunity to participate in the decision-making and guiding processes that affect our future is rewarding. I’m a public servant for our citizens. My colleagues understand wholeheartedly our duties and bring their best talents and gifts to the leadership table.
What would you say are Lynchburg’s greatest strengths?
Industry and business sectors invest in our community, contributing to our great quality of life. Higher-education institutions and nonprofits enhance cultural opportunities. For people starting a business or a family, our city is innovative, and we offer affordable cost-of-living options. We are a caring community.
We have aging infrastructure that requires continued prioritization of funding to meet the maintenance, replacement and renovation needs throughout the city. We are a landlocked city, so smart growth within city boundaries is imperative.
Aside from council, you have a career with Goodwill Industries of the Valleys. What do you do there?
I facilitate local workforce development programming for employers and job seekers. We offer job readiness and career skills training to individuals with the goal of helping people achieve a better life through work and independence.
What are some ideals you prioritize that make you a better leader?
I listen to all, understanding I don’t have all the answers. Huge egos don’t always get the job done. I believe a humble leader is an impactful leader.
Do you believe there any unique challenges faced by women in leadership roles?
The challenge lies in others recognizing the leadership attributes we bring to any role. Women prove our leadership daily, in our homes, businesses and community. We organize and multi-task until the work is done. This is our foundation.
What is your advice for facing those unique challenges?
Work hard and smart. Be focused, believing in yourself and your abilities. Don’t underestimate the value you bring to the job. Know your worth and don’t fear speaking up.
What is your favorite way to spend your time when you are not working or serving on council?
I enjoy traveling around the U.S. and internationally. I like interior decorating and being creative through art projects.
I hope we inspire or encourage more people, both women and men, to assume leadership roles in our community, serving on boards and commissions. We should be mentoring and planting seeds for the next generation of public servants.