May 2017

The right time • The right place • The right person

WORDS Paul Polycarpou

PHOTOGRAPHY Jerry Atnip

“ When I was a grade school student, I came to the Tennessee State Museum to see the permanent exhibits and the special exhibits of Red Grooms and Masterworks. That museum experience stayed with me, and now I want to inspire the next generation.”

What is your greatest extravagance?

Vintage clothes from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Vintage jewelry, purses, and coats, I love it all.

Which living person do you most admire?

There are so many, but really I’d have to say my parents. Both are very creative people. They have encouraged me to forge my own path.

Who would you most like to have a cup of coffee with?

I saw Hamilton recently, the musical, which was incredible, so I’d like to meet Lin-Manuel Miranda and talk to him about his creative process.

What are you really good at?

I’m a very analytical person without being a very analytical person, and that’s an intersection where I like to be.

And what are you really bad at?

Time management. That’s why I am so deadline-driven.

What characteristic do you most like about yourself?

I’m good at building relationships. I love talking to people and hearing their stories.

How do you feel about the way Nashville is growing?

I would love to see more transportation options. I know that’s on everyone’s mind. But I also worry about the affordability of our city. Settling into our growth is a big challenge.

What would surprise people to know about you?

I’ve been cage-diving with great white sharks in South Africa. Very scary but thrilling, a total adrenaline rush.

What was the last good book you read?

I just read A Square Meal by Andrew Coe and Jane Ziegelman about the food crisis during the Great Depression and how it shaped the way we eat today. A fascinating read. I also recently read Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes. I could not put that book down.

So what do you sing in the shower?

I don’t. I make lists of what I need to accomplish that day.

Are you a night or morning person?

I’m a night person. I stay up late, read or talk with my husband, and then in the morning I regret that I stayed up late.

When and where are you happiest?

Being with my family and friends. It’s that simple really.

What artist makes you weak in the knees?

I broke down in tears when I saw Van Gogh’s The Church at Auvers in Paris. It was one of the last paintings he did before he died. A very powerful, emotional experience for me.

If not Nashville, where?

There are two sides to me. I love Knoxville, East Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains, but I also love New York. I’d like to live in both those worlds. I’ve travelled to many countries around the world, and one of the pleasures of that is coming back home. Tennessee is very much a part of my history.

What other profession would you like to do?

I love antiques, so maybe an auction house or even an antique shop. I’d like that.

What is a most treasured possession?

I have a few items from family members that have a lot of sentimental value to me. I’d grab those.

The biggest personal change you have made?

Definitely having a family and being able to balance career with family. That’s important to me; I make that a priority.

What’s the motto you live by?

Be kind, be fair, be trustworthy, and do good work.

Who were your heroes?

As a kid, I did a report on Susan B. Anthony. I am drawn to women in history: like the Tennessee suffragists who lobbied for the ratification of the 19th Amendment here in 1920. They were courageous and unstoppable.

What are you looking forward to?

Working with the great team here at the museum, working with the community, seeing the new Tennessee State Museum come to fruition. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it will get done. I’m looking forward to that.

What is the one thing that you would like to change about yourself?

Sometimes I can be a little too serious.

Are you happy with where you are heading?

Absolutely; I love what I do. I love what museums do. It’s a career that found me 20 years ago, and I’m glad it did.

Are the arts in Nashville at a comparable level to other major cities?

I think what Nashville has is world class. We do excellent work here. There may be more of it in larger cities, but we have many wonderful offerings here, which is why everyone wants to live here.

Will there be big changes at the new Tennessee State Museum?

We’re going to be in a new building in the fall of 2018. It is my goal to honor the museum, engage with our community and work with a great team.

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