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Women to Watch

Local Ladies Leading the Way

Powerful women shaping their professions. That's what these four women have in common. In a year where words like "unprecedented" and "different" have been the norm, these women have emerged at the top of their game. We recognize them for their accomplishments, expertise and leadership. 

Wendy Sturges, Editor, Community Impact Newspaper, Franklin/Brentwood Edition

What (do you think) has made the newspaper so successful?
What people love about our paper is our focus on what’s local. In the past year, people have stayed close to home and they want to know what’s happening in their neighborhood. We’re lucky enough to work in Franklin and Brentwood, where businesses are still opening and there’s a lot going on, and people are excited for that kind of news.  

What has been key for you this year related to adaptability?
Flexibility was definitely the word of the year for 2020. A year ago, changing the scope of our entire paper in the middle of production to account for breaking news would have been unthinkable. But we’ve since learned how to stop, change course and move forward to make sure we’re covering what people need to know most.

In retrospect, what was one of the most shocking: things/turn of events/situation that led you to where you are today?
Growing up, I assumed I’d live in my home state of Texas forever, but when our Austin-based company announced it was expanding to the Nashville area, I was one of the first to volunteer. Just weeks later, I was on a plane to Franklin looking for our new home.

My favorite thing is...  
My favorite thing to do in my free time is make bread from scratch. Not only do you get to work out frustrations by focusing on measurements and kneading dough, but at the end of the day, the house smells like a bakery.

When you find something challenging about your day/week and how do you find the motivation to complete the task?
Breaking up big projects into to-do lists is how I work best. Smaller items, like sending an email or making an outline for a story, seem much more manageable than seeing one big, daunting task. There’s something very satisfying about checking off boxes on a list that helps me keep the momentum going.

Lucy Miller, Founder, Tennessee Women Connect 

Why did you start this networking group?

I started this group for women because I had just not found the right fit for me. Quite frankly, I didn’t like the options that were out there. I wanted a place to bring women together in a comfortable and supportive environment that would also feed their need to make business connections for growth. So I started Franklin Women Connect and planned our first happy hour. The success of the group and interest from other areas has led to our expansion efforts as Tennessee Women Connect. 

What (do you think) made the group so successful?

There are a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest one is that there was a desire that was not being met for women to connect and be supportive of each other. From day one, there was a tremendous sense of community and support between the women. I think that is the driving factor to the success and growth of Tennessee Women Connect. It also has been helpful that we have not excluded anyone or any profession.  The fun we have doesn’t hurt either! 

What has been key for you this year related to adaptability? 

Obviously, the last 12 months have required a great deal of adaptability for everyone. Tennessee Women Connect is no exception. We have added virtual offerings on an app called Clubhouse, zooms, and webinars as well as a mix of in-person events to meet the needs of the women that we support.

In retrospect, what was one of the most shocking: things//turn of events/situation that led you to where you are today?

The overwhelming support and desire to be a part of the group and in so many different areas was a surprise…but also expected as it was something I was looking for. It has helped drive us through this expansion. Apparently, there are many women looking for the same thing as me.

When you find something challenging about your day/week and how do you find the motivation to complete the task? 

Working a busy career as realtor while also running Tennessee Women Connect is a challenge in and of itself. Then throw in two busy kids and things can get hectic really fast.  The excitement and happiness I see in the lives this group is impacting, gives me the results and motivation to keep building this group.

Denise Andre, General Sessions Judge, Div. 1

What has been key for you this year related to adaptability?
Taking breaks for myself, accepting that there are things over which I have no control, looking for the positives and being grateful for the small things. Encouraging others has helped with my outlook as well. I found that decluttering my work and home spaces helped reduce stress and
boost productivity. Having a great staff at work has been a blessing.

In retrospect, what was one of the most shocking: things/class/turn of events/situation that led you to where you are today?
Interestingly, it all started at the Nashville Rescue Mission when I couldn’t find a job, having graduated undergrad with honors. I stepped out of my comfort zone and agreed to follow a recommendation by Rev Carl Resener that started me on a path that ultimately became my calling in life. I feel extremely honored and privileged to serve the people of this county.

When you find something challenging about your day/week and how do you find the motivation to complete the task?
I break down the task, making a list and the steps to accomplish it. I enlist the help of others to help keep me motivated. I remind myself that it is important to “just get it done” and that I have overcome challenging tasks before, this will pass.

My favorite _________ is ______.
My favorite is baking cakes for others. It began when the first DUI Recovery Court participant achieved one year of sobriety. To help her celebrate that special time, I made her a homemade strawberry cake; it became tradition. I’m not much of a cake decorator, but I’m told they taste much better than they look and I certainly hope so!

What do you think made you successful or made you finally feel successful?
I once heard someone say that success isn’t something you’ve accomplished - it’s something you create, and the moment you succeed is the moment you begin something new.

Mindy Tate, Executive Director, Franklin Tomorrow 

What has been key for you this year related to adaptability?
I am a social person, so it was incredibly difficult at first, but I just had to give myself some grace as it related to how I tick. I needed to continue to see faces and engage with people.

In retrospect, what was one of the most shocking: things/class/turn of events/situation that led you to where you are today?
Becoming Executive Director of Franklin Tomorrow. I think it rounds out my career in community or public service journalism nicely.

When you find something challenging about your day/week and how do you find the motivation to complete the task?
I have always believed in just doing the task. Ann Landers once said, “Opportunities are usually disguised by hard work, so most people don’t recognize them." You have to move through it. Always focus on and look for the solution.

My favorite _________ is ______.
Thing to do is travel and my favorite place is Walt Disney World. I went as a child but for the last 25 years, my spousal equivalent and I have been going several times a year and are annual pass holders. My favorite spot is World’s Showcase and Epcot and the classic, Magic Kingdom. It is a place where we can be carefree. I also love the beach, particularly Pensacola Beach and to visit our Canadian Sister City -- Carleton Place,
Ontario.
 

What do you think made you successful or made you finally feel successful?

Knowing my work has had a positive impact on my community and on others. I still have people come up to me and tell me how I wrote a story many years ago and what it meant to them. As it relates to Franklin Tomorrow, it’s the continued evolution of not just the organization, but our role in the community and greater recognition across the country about what a special place Franklin is.

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