You never know who you are going to meet!

I never know who I am going to meet on any given project. This is what I love so much about what I do…everyone has a story to tell. When I was a journalist, I never knew on any given day where I was going to be, who I was going to meet, what story was I going to capture and tell. It brings me joy that this daily epiphany has translated into my business routine.

Laura Beach is one of those stories that is so wonderful and pure, one that restores my faith for the next wave of clergy leadership in rural North Carolina.

Way out in the middle of the country, I found my way through the windy roads where Longtown United Methodist Church was perched on a hill. Laura is the new pastor, fresh out of Duke Divinity School.

“Laura didn’t always know she wanted to be a pastor, but she has always loved life in a rural setting. She grew up in Ferrum, Va., in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the slower pace and strong sense of community became part of her.”

Longtown UMC is her first appointment for the United Methodist Church.

“I remember turning onto Longtown Road and thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to fit in here. This is going to be home,’” she says.

The congregation embraces her youth and her passion. They shared their desires to be a part of the maturation process for young ministers. Their commitment to this ministry can be felt throughout the congregation…one that makes me think is the under current of the Thriving Rural Communities initiative.

I enjoyed meeting Laura and hearing more about her story. if you would like to read more about Laura, you go go The Duke Endowment’s website to learn more.

*** Excerpts from this blog post are from Laura’s Profile of Service Story on The Duke Endowment’s website, indicated in italics.

Thankful for people like Pearl

I was thinking about Thanksgiving and the numerous things that I am thankful for…I started to think about Pearl. As I think of the things I am thankful for, I begin to think of the people I think are heros. People that I have crossed paths with…ones that have inspired me to look at life in a different way.

I challenged my MBA class to write about their hero this past week. Many of the students jumped right into the assignment, but others began to question who to write about. Riley Csernica has me thinking.



I met Pearl Johnson last year in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The moment I met her, I knew I had another mother in my life. It was 5:30am and it was time to get ready for the day. As I made my way through the mountains, I pulled into this little parking lot…and walked into the side door of the kitchen.

Normally I have to spend some time with people I am working with…to train them to get used to the camera following them everywhere, recording every sound from the microphone hidden under their collar. She did not miss a beat and let me say…she did not stop talking. Yes, I was pulling away in my car late that day and she was still talking.

She told me her story, her passion, her mission…to feed those seniors who do not have access to a warm meal. She feels everyone deserves a warm meal. This is such a simple idea, concept, and passion. But, she has converted her passion to action.

I would be willing to bet she will be traveling the mountains this Thanksgiving, making sure those seniors have a warm meal and a side of her warm conversation. Pearl is just one of the many individuals that the Duke Endowment supports…and I am thankful to listen, capture, and share her story.

My Lesson 11 … I am still learning

There is nothing better than having someone share their story, their experiences, their passions to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs. Robbin Phillips of Brains on Fire joined my MBA class for a morning of discussion and sharing.

So here is what I walked away with…

1) I am still a student of this entrepreneurial journey.

2) Passion is a must…so don’t be afraid to share.

3) Our story is our story…

4) Listening is one the most important parts of connecting with like minded people.

5) To lead a successful company, initiative, or movement…you must be healthy from the soul outward.

So here is to Robbin for filling up my cup, giving me a new breath of passion, and reminding that regardless if I am the teacher…learning never stops.

So there is my Lesson 11 for the evening. I am still learning!  Read the Brains on Fire book and you will understand.

What is your legacy?

For the past few years, I have been working with Clemson on a small project each year called Legacy Day. A great event to share the Legacy of Clemson University.

Above are short videos we have been creating each year to encourage students to get involved. Each video is a short vignette that includes Thomas Green Clemson helping students around campus.

Who Is Thomas Green Clemson?
“Clemson drafted a final will in the mid 1880s. The will called for the establishment of a land-grant institution called ‘The Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina’ upon the property of the Fort Hill estate. He believed that education, especially scientific education, leads to economic prosperity. He wanted to start an agricultural college because he felt that government officials did not appreciate the importance of agricultural education.”

This year, we thought it would be great to introduce his wife Anna Calhoun Clemson. Anna was John C. Calhoun’s daughter. John C. Calhoun was a Senator and Vice President of the United States. His home now sits on Clemson’s campus which is the location of the Legacy Day event.

Each video, we see Thomas Green Clemson providing the metaphor of his determined spirit, ever present helping students across the campus. The hope, students at Clemson learn his legacy and want to join in this yearly event.

This year’s event description:
“Come leave your mark this November at Fort Hill! Take a tour of the historic home and join us in celebrating when Thomas Green Clemson signed the university into his will.

There will be FREE long-sleeved t-shirts, koozies and more. Free food will also be provided! The Clemson University Gospel Choir will be performing, as well as a string quartet!”

Here is a link to the Facebook Event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/332124476886083/ 

Here is a link to the Clemson University Calendar Event:
http://calendar.clemson.edu/event/legacy_day#.UKEcEeOe9QY 

About the project:
This project began in 2009 with the vision of creating a day where students, faculty, staff, and alumni come together to share the legacy of Clemson University. The first Legacy Day featured the release of the new book called “Thomas Green Clemson”.

“The book was written by 12 authors, most of whom are Clemson faculty and staff members, and edited by English professor Alma Bennett. Each of the 13 chapters focuses on a certain facet of Clemson’s life, including his education; his relationship with his wife Anna Calhoun; his time spent in Europe and Washington, D.C.; his career as a scientist and farmer; his love of art and music; his role as a national advocate for agricultural education; and his vision to found an agricultural college.”

Students and staff collaborated on the project using video as a way to engage other students on campus. Short vignette videos were created by students and staff to share Thomas Green Clemson’s commitment to students. The videos were then shared by students on Facebook.

The first year, there were close to 350 in attendance. Attendees were able to tour the Fort Hill Mansion, purchase a signed copy of the new book, and meet other individuals who wanted to learn more about Clemson’s Legacy.

Learn More & Credits:
Thomas Green Clemson – Wikipedia Page, Clemson History Information
Anna Calhoun Clemson – Wikipedia Page
John C. Calhoun – Wikipedia Page
Fort Hill Mansion – Clemson History Information
About the Book “Thomas Green Clemson” – Clemson Description
Purchase the Book “Thomas Green Clemson” – Clemson Book Store