1. What’s your position with Brightergy? How long have you been working here?
I am Brightergy’s PR Manager, and I’ve been here just over a year now.
2. Where are you from/where did you grow up? What’s your background (educational/work)?
I grew up in the KC area, in Leawood, KS. I attended school at Rhodes College, where I studied English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing. While there I had two internships: one as a writing intern for a Dublin, IR art journal, and the other in the Marketing/PR department of the Memphis Symphony.
When I graduated, I was looking at two different masters’ programs: an MFA in Writing or an MBA in Cultural Policy and Arts Management. What that really told me though was, if I don’t know what I want to study, I should probably hold off on continuing school. So that’s when I came back home to Kansas City, to try to figure out what it is I want to do.
Over the past five years, there’s been some struggles in that process: I’ve done everything from teaching at a Montessori preschool to running my own pie baking business (Petticoat Pies). And through all of that, I’ve learned that education, creativity, and a sense of purpose are driving motivators for me. But perhaps what interests me the most – and ties all of those values together – is the art of storytelling.
It seems obvious now – or to my parents, who rarely saw me without my nose in a book as a kid – but I love words and I love stories. Stories are how we relate to each other, how we present ourselves to the world, and ultimately, how we are remembered, how we remember, and how we learn. And because of the way marketing has changed in recent years – and because every business has a story to be told – it’s really a perfect fit for me, as is Brightergy.
My next major goal is to design a masters degree that combines those twin interests: a look at the role of storytelling in business and marketing, and what can be applied from studying the masters of literature.
3. Why solar? What first got you interested in renewable energy?
You may have guessed from my answer above, but while I’ve been a great student of the humanities, I was never exactly a star scientist. I was, however, always interested in nature, the outdoors, and sustainability. Maybe it’s a symptom of growing up in the Captain Planet generation, but I also have to give a lot of credit to my parents. I think it comes down to respect. My dad grew up hunting, exploring, and fly-fishing the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and my mother grew up at arms’ length of the vast Kansas prairie. They instilled in me a respect for the natural world and conservation – emphasized by many family trips to our country’s great national parks. We spent many summers in different national parks, but one of my dad’s favorites was definitely the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As he grew up around there, we often visited there to see all of his favorite childhood spots. One of his friends even told us that we should consider staying in a smoky mountain rental cabin to have a couple of days out there in the national park. That’s a good idea, my dad would love that. Anyway, we were always in and around nature. They also taught me to be considerate: pay attention to water and energy use, think about recycling – in general, just conscious behavior. They also taught me to value quality over quantity.
Now, I’m fascinated by the energy world: how it works, how it’s sourced, how developing countries are building energy infrastructure, how ours is changing, and even how it’s become second nature to us to simply flip a switch to power our daily lives. With solar, I think the technology is there and getting better and better, and it just makes sense – especially as our demands for energy grow – to source that power from a cleaner energy source.
4. What is something people might not know about your job and/or what you do?
With all of the writing, editing, and content creation that I do, I help set the tone of the voice of Brightergy. I’m here to help us communicate our message about who we are as a company, which includes us, as the employees who make Brightergy hum. When someone asks you what you do, and you answer, “I work at Brightergy, we’re a clean-energy company,” not only was there a great deal of thought and care put into making sure you have that answer, but also, you’re bringing that voice to life as a representative of our particular brand of business. We’re all the voices of Brightergy, and every outpost we use – from this blog to our Twitter to our individual LinkedIn pages – is a public-facing outlet that people go to get an impression of who we are, and how we do what we do. If I’m relating to them well – often with stories, or useful information – then I’m ensuring that the impression they have is a positive one.
5. How do you define sustainability?
Conscious living; acting in a way that’s both respectful and grateful for the world we’re blessed to live in. We gain so much from our environment, and I think it’s our duty to live responsibly and to give back.
6. When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
Traveling…I’d love to more often. But I also like taking that attitude for exploration and applying it here at home.
Due to my college days, I’ve got a love for writing so I often sit down with some writing prompts and just see where my story goes. It’s a great way to spend a weekend and the hours just melt away! I’ve not done anything with my work yet but who knows, I might look making my hobby a bit more than just a hobby…
My boyfriend and I both love good food, and Kansas City is a great place to be for that. We’re always trying new restaurants or going back to old favorites, and perhaps one of our favorite things to do is get out to a farmers’ market – or even the farm itself – and cook something up with all the fresh produce. We went out to an orchard in Edgerton, KS the other weekend, and since then there’s been blackberry cobbler, some killer BLTs, sweet corn on the cob, steaks seared with cherry tomatoes and basil, and a honey caramel peach pie. I love nothing more than to be out on a patio or porch, sharing good food, wine, and conversation with friends and family.
So then to offset all that eating…we’re also very active. We love getting out and about and experiencing the seasons and the city to the fullest: everything from events at the Kauffman Center to getting out to support both the Jayhawks and the Volunteers. We just moved to the South Plaza, so lately there’s been a lot of jogs through Loose Park and one of my favorite hidden secrets of the city is a free yoga class that’s held on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins on Sunday afternoons.
7. What’s something your coworkers don’t know about you?
Here’s something: I genuinely thought I was going to grow up to live and work in Colonial Williamsburg. I had it all worked out: I was going to attend William & Mary and spend my days riding horses…that really came I think from a perfect storm of having a dad who was a history major, a mother who encouraged my love for historical fiction, and then those American Girl dolls. I had Felicity (of course) and more than a passing interest in the Revolutionary War and especially Paul Revere.
It’s fair to say I’ve given up the idea of living in Williamsburg, but I still believe that there’s a great deal to be learnt from the traditions and lives of our past. How else can we move forward? And then there’s the idea that the memories we retain and the stories we tell about our histories are often more powerful than the moments themselves.
8. What is your motto?
Always be curious. Listen, observe, always ask better and better questions, and never stop learning.
Did you miss last week’s BrighterFaces? Meet Amber Mann.