What word would you use to describe your childhood and why?
Explorer. My parents wanted us to experience this country’s grandeur and learn its history — from Pearl Harbor and the Grand Canyon to Old Faithful and the French Quarter. I visited 49 states before high school graduation… and consumed countless bologna sandwiches in the backseat of my parents’ Buick.
Do you have a nickname? Explain.
I have had a few nicknames over the years. My favorite is “mama.” It warms my heart every time I hear my kids say it. But special recognition goes to my high school friend Jennifer who started a very different nickname that is still around — it’s just not for publication!
Tell us about your most embarrassing fail. How did you recover?
In 2006, I was preparing for hundreds to watch the president sign the Voting Rights Act reauthorization. Secret Service cleared a truck with staging, but I soon learned the drivers couldn’t set it up. I asked the Residence staff, and fortunately they jumped in, going beyond the call of duty.
What fictional female character (in a book or movie) has always inspired you?
The movie Broadcast News came out about the time I was a high school intern at WSMV-TV. Holly Hunter’s character, Jane Craig, was the pulse of the evening news. She helped inspire me to become a news producer in Washington. Big thanks to Steve Hammel for hiring me at WJLA-TV.
Any real-life women or men you look up to?
My entire life, I have been surrounded by accomplished women. My late grandmother was born when women could not vote, yet earned her MBA/PhD and became a successful businesswoman. She was an inspiring trailblazer and a true southern lady — perfectly poised and always prioritized church, community and charity.
What’s something about you no one knows?
I majored in art history! Most people would guess that I majored in journalism or political science, but I decided to study something I loved — even if I wasn’t going to pursue a career in it. Just ask me about the differences between Rubens and Rembrandt!
Favorite song and why?
It’s hard to choose just one, but as a Tennessee native I will pick anything by the legendary Dolly Parton, from "Working 9 to 5” to “Coat of Many Colors” and “Jolene.” She has an incredible personal journey — she never forgets her East Tennessee roots.
Tell us about your hobby.
I enjoy cooking when I have time — especially on Thanksgiving and other holidays. I always love spending time with my kids in the kitchen. My daughter is very proud of her red velvet ice cream pie and annual turkey. Her secret ingredient? A magic spell from a princess wand!
Finish the sentence: To ensure career advancement and pay parity for women, I will...
…continue to host high school interns at my office and speak at career days. We have an obligation to expose young women to career opportunities early. That’s because I was 16 when I had my first internship thanks to my high school’s “Winterim” program, which launched my career path.
What is your golden rule at work?
Before Airlines for America, I was at the National Beer Wholesalers Association where we had an unofficial motto: “Work Hard, play hard and take care of each other.” A4A lives by those words, too. We all work hard, but it’s important to have fun and care about each other as well.