Director, Public Policy + Grassroots Engagement
Q: What do you do at the Chamber and how long have you worked there?
A: I started in the spring of 2016, so I’m getting on six years, which is hard to believe. I have had many roles! I started out assisting the then VP of public policy, which was great because I didn’t have a lot of public policy work, so it was a great opportunity to learn something new. I worked with IBM in sales for a while when I first started my career, and then I took time off to have a bunch of children and move here to become a freelance business writer. My job has kind of morphed over the years, but today I would say the things I focus on are keeping our members informed of things to do with the county and city commission, with our state legislature and creating voting initiatives.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: We moved here in 1995! My husband and I both grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, which is a western town, so not Boston. We did not go out in high school, but we knew each other, and we went to grad school out in Minnesota. We moved around a little bit, from Massachusetts to Minnesota to Philadelphia and then to here, progressively looking for warmer weather.
Q: What is your favorite chamber event?
A: I do like the annual meeting, but I think my favorite is probably the business awards. It was kind of put on hold for a bit for the last couple of years with the pandemic, but we did have it this last fall. Our members apply—there are six or seven different categories—and there’s a committee that goes through all the applications and award the best in each category. It’s a big social event and people get all dressed up, so it’s fun.
Q: What is one example of your work we can see in the community?
A: You can go on the website right now and see the interviews with the two candidates that our people are voting on with the city election and you can read all about us in the Gainesville magazine or the Guide to Greater Gainesville. I think those are the ones that right off I could point you immediately to.
Q: What is a guilty pleasure of yours?
A: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures; I believe anything is pleasurable. However, I would have to say Hallmark movies. My husband and I tend to watch a fair amount of them, which to me is hilarious. They have all the Christmas ones, now it’s gone to winter ones and soon they’ll be doing the Valentine’s Day ones.
Q: What is a trip you wish you could go on?
A: My youngest daughter is in Dublin right now studying abroad. We are planning a trip there to see her, and then to Paris, which is the real destination. If I was going to go anywhere within the blink of an eye, I would probably say Australia, which was originally where my daughter was supposed to go, but it got all nuts, and everything got locked down.
Q: What is your favorite holiday?
A: I used to really like Halloween and Easter because for some reason we always ended up doing parties on those two days. It always ended up being a lot of fun, and it turned into an annual tradition that I have no idea as to why. In reality, I would say I’m good with every holiday because it is a chance to celebrate, and I wish we had more.
Q: What is your favorite song or musician?
A: Oh gosh, I have a lot! I am a big music fan. Jackson Browne has been my favorite from college, so I would say him, but it changes all the time. My favorite song that best describes my life is “Watching the Wheels” with John Lennon because it is about recognizing you’re on the rat race and jumping off.
Q: What is your favorite dessert?
A: It’s hard to narrow that down, but I tend to like anything with lemon. Lemon bars, limoncello cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory, anything that has lemon in it.
Q: What is a subject that you could lecture on without any preparation?
A: I could probably impromptu help someone put together a document, like if they had to put together a speech or a newsletter, any kind of business document. I could probably walk them through that process to help them get that done.
Q: Can you describe the Chamber in one word?
A: Friends. It’s a great place to meet new people and make new friends. There is definitely someone out there that is like you, no matter who you are.