I’ve always said that growing up between my mom’s farm in Ballard, my dad’s car dealerships in Marshall, and my grandparents’ mobile home business on Cairo Road in Paducah made me an adaptive and flexible person who was willing to tackle the hard stuff and ask the hard questions.
EDUCATION + GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
After one year of college at Murray State, I transferred to Vanderbilt University where I received a degree in Communication of Science and Technology. During and after college, I worked at Rocketown, a teen music venue and skatepark for inner city kids, founded by Michael W. Smith. Eventually, I became Director of Programs, focused on using film, music, and arts to keep kids off the streets. My six years in Nashville taught me about community development, non-profit management, and why it takes all kinds of people to accomplish common goals.
I chose Boston University School of Public Health for graduate school for several reasons, but largely because I knew I wanted to work in the medical field but wasn’t sure I was ready for the plunge into eight years of medical training to be a doctor. My time in graduate school led me to some incredible learning opportunities. As a research coordinator at Harvard, I was led to Sierra Leone, West Africa, where I helped manage 20 local staff through a 1,000 person research study across the country. Navigating cultural differences in a foreign land opened my eyes further to the reality that we are not all that different from one another. The staff in Sierra Leone taught me many things; perhaps most of all that diversity makes us all better.
After graduate school, I moved to Washington D.C. to work for Management Sciences for Health, a 1,600 employee organization working on issues of global health and development in over 60 countries. My role there was to help create internal knowledge management practices that would help staff in all locations communicate effectively. The focus was on making sure not to duplicate efforts, share lessons learned, and use group brainstorming to find the best solutions.
From D.C., after winning a large grant for an organization in Haiti, I took a job running the program to empower women, using economic development strategies, to prevent them from orphaning their children. After a planning visit down to Haiti, just six months before the large earthquake there in 2010, I decided not to take the job. This is when my journey back to Paducah roots begins; I moved home for what I thought would be a short time.
As I settled in back home, I started seeing Paducah in a different way than I had as a kid growing up in the area. The community-minded people I met inspired me to dig a little deeper into my hometown. Over the past seven years, I have watered my roots and they have grown strong and deep in Paducah. This community has given me so much, and I continue to work hard to return the favor.
PADUCAH + NONPROFIT LEADERSHIP
As President of Rotaract in 2011, I helped recruit over 30 new young professionals to join our organization focused on community service and professional development. At EntrePaducah, I helped local entrepreneurs launch their businesses. Various clients included success stories such as Midtown Market, EMP, and Dream Green. During my time at EntrePaducah, we developed initiatives to build a culture of entrepreneurship in Paducah. This included hosting contests in surrounding elementary, middle, and high schools to foster and encourage innovative thinking. Alongside the Chamber of Commerce, we worked to create a well-rounded business community that could support small business owners throughout every stage of development.
From there, I moved on to St. Nicholas Family Clinic, an 18 year old free health center serving western Kentucky. As Director, I helped prepare the organization to respond to changes in healthcare. We recruited KentuckyCare to expand access to healthcare and helped St. Nicholas become an organization that could respond rapidly to the changing needs of our citizens. St Nicholas is a staple organization in our community. I absolutely loved working there! The staff, volunteers, and patients changed my life and drove home the love I have for this community. The tough decisions I helped make for St. Nicholas are the type of tough decisions that I can make for our community. We had a vision for how to improve healthcare and make it more accessible for our community during a changing landscape (the Affordable Care Act) and we went through the critical process necessary to identify the right way forward. I want to do that for our city. I want to lead our community through deciding who we are and what we want to become, then determine the necessary steps needed to get us there.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP + STARTUPS
With friends and other visionaries, I launched a community innovation lab to provide a place for creative individuals and entrepreneurs to gather and bring their ideas to reality. The space has served over 150 people since May 2014. Share was created in response to the lack of entrepreneurial support in our community. Through partnerships with the Kentucky Innovation Network, Share has hosted Global Entrepreneurship Week events helping bring such like-minded people together.
Planting my roots even deeper into the growing Paducah landscape, I decided to take my own entrepreneurial risk and create a company in a field in which I was trained and experienced. In March 2014, I, along with my cofounders Jay Campbell and Dr. Natalie Hodge, launched a company to create software for the prevention of Diabetes and Hypertension. My vision for this company is to build a new technological healthcare business that will recruit modern jobs and bring economic growth to Paducah.
Since that time, Personal Medicine Plus has experienced much success. This includes presenting at conferences in Washington D.C., San Francisco, Cleveland, and Nashville and being accepted into Startup Health, the largest accelerator program of healthcare startups in the country based in New York City.
- Board of Directors, Project AIDS Orphan
- Board of Directors, Child Watch
*helped start BBQ on the River team to raise additional funds during transition years
- Board of Directors, Paducah Day Nursery
- Mayor’s Young Professional Committee Chairperson, 2014-2015
- Progress Paducah Organizer, 2015-present
- Regional Women of Achievement Award Nominee, 2013
- Impact Poverty Task Force, United Way, 2012-2013
- Heartland CARES, Grant and Fundraising Manager, 2009-2010
- Google Knowledge Management Bar Camp, 2009
- Cultural Competency Certification, Boston University, 2008
- Grant Writing Certification, Boston University School of Public Health, 2008
- Supervision Certificate: Center for Non-profit Management, Nashville, TN, 2006
- Group Facilitation Training: Oasis Center, Nashville. TN, 2005
CURRENT LEADERSHIP TRAINING
I am currently enrolled in the Delta Regional Authority Leadership Institute. I joined this leadership institute because I want to see Paducah increase the utilization of this resource. Just like the Appalachian Regional Commission in eastern Kentucky, the DRA is a large organization created to help cities like Paducah in the delta region. We rarely utilize their resources and I want to see us use this to improve economic development, infrastructure, and healthcare in the local area.