Native son book one: fear


Mary Elliott has been in Gastonia for only a month và has lived in North Carolina for less than a year, but she is already an energetic marketer for the City. “We can make such history here with FUSE and all of the other projects in the City,” she says. “We can chia sẻ some great, positive stories about what we are doing here. That really jazzes me!”

Elliott says she knew she wanted to be part of what is happening in Gastonia when she read the job mô tả tìm kiếm for the director of the Communications and kinh doanh Department. She was further convinced after visiting one week và talking with some business owners. “They told me, ‘This is such a great place. There’s so much potential here in Gastonia.’”

Mary Elliott & her husband"s motorcycleElliott became the head of the City’s Communications and kinh doanh Department after Rachel Bagley retired on July 31. A native of Detroit, Elliott spent the past three decades living và working in Denver, Colorado. Her specialties are strategic communications, truyền thông media and public relations, & marketing. In the Denver area, she worked in higher education, health care, banking, telecom, corporate philanthropy, sports kinh doanh and state government. “I have a passion for health, wellness & economic development,” she says.

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According to lớn Elliott, her years as the kinh doanh and communications manager for a new medical center in Lafayette, Colorado, were a highlight of her career. “I was privileged khổng lồ be part of the leadership team to build a $200 million medical center,” she says. “You can imagine, when you build something that massive, what the to-do các mục is like! It seemed that everything I had done in my career, starting off in Detroit, helped prepare me for that position.”

Although Elliott describes that health care job as being fabulous, she was laid off in 2015. She put her skills khổng lồ work as a consultant for small- & minority-owned businesses. Then she landed a position doing public information for the Community College of Aurora và was an adjunct instructor at the college. Elliott became Director of Communication and marketing at the community college in 2017, which she describes as being another highlight of her career.

Bringing her career passions và her first love khổng lồ GastoniaSoon after, she reconnected with her childhood sweetheart. As kids in Detroit, Michael Elliott lived

Elliott"s childhood home four doors down from Mary. “He was the cutest boy on the street,” Mary recalls with a grin. After graduating from the University of Detroit, Mary had moved to Colorado. Michael had enlisted in the Army và became a career military officer. But they apparently didn’t forget about each other. They reconnected in early 2018, thanks to some persistent prompting by Mary’s brother & a mutual friend. Michael was living in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Ft. Bragg, at the time. When Mary và Michael finally talked by phone last year for the first time in decades, their conversation lasted six hours.

Many more conversations followed. In November 2018, Mary moved khổng lồ Fayetteville. And on Valentine’s Day 2019, Mary và Michael Elliott were married. She began looking for a job, got the position in Gastonia, and the couple are in the process of moving here.

Now Elliott considers her job with the đô thị of Gastonia khổng lồ be another highlight of her career. “This is such an opportunity to lớn learn, share và grow,” she says. “Everyone here has been so warm and welcoming. Not just the people at thành phố Hall, every person I’ve met in the community.” She says it was “endearing” to lớn see so many Gastonia residents lined up Downtown when the 1920s clock was delivered to its former spot in front of the old Citizens National ngân hàng building. She is inspired by the kinh doanh opportunities associated with FUSE, new léman luxury apartments planned for Downtown & the City’s economic growth spurt. “I love getting in on the ground floor of things, getting other people excited about what’s to lớn come,” she says.

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In her new role, Elliott is combining skills & passions that she developed & refined in her past work experience. “Just recently, I learned as I was looking back over my career, how all of the pieces fit together,” she says. “There was a time that I wasn’t sure that it was intentional. But apparently it was. The jobs that I’ve had, each one has built one into the other.”

Inspirations và guiding forcesElliott says she has had many role models, but her mother influenced her the most. “My mom always wanted me to be the best that I could be. Both of my parents did, of course.” Her mom enrolled Elliott in extra classes like typing and

Elliott"s master"s degree in theology French during the summer, when her friends were outside playing. “She would say, ‘You can learn how to lớn cook later in life. Go upstairs và study,’” Elliott says of her mother. “I think she would be proud of me.”

When Elliott graduated from college in Detroit with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications, her mother had purchased a sheet cake for a small gathering at the family’s home. On the cake, the baker had drawn three diplomas representing a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree và a Ph.D. “The image of that cake has always stuck in my mind,” Elliott says. “My two master’s degrees are a tribute khổng lồ my mom.” Elliott earned master’s degrees in theology and in applied communication, và hopes lớn get a doctorate someday. “I took my work ethic from my parents,” she says. “My mother was wonderful. I always wanted her khổng lồ be proud of me.”

Elliott is in the process of writing two books. One draws upon her faith and her experience of being laid off three times in five years. The working title is, I’m Not in Control. God Is. Ten Lessons I Learned From Losing My Job. The second book is about finding và marrying her childhood sweetheart. The title: Living My Happily Ever After.

Strategic communications & sultry summersIn the fast-changing field of communications, Elliott emphasizes strategy & preparedness. “That’s why it’s important for communications and sale professionals khổng lồ have a seat at the table,” she says. “One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced at times in my career is convincing leadership or management how important this function is lớn the overall organization. It’s better to call us in before the fire is in the kitchen as opposed to when the fire is already there và expecting us to do magic.”

Mary and Michael Elliott at Kure BeachTechnology và social truyền thông media are changing the tốc độ at which communicators vày their jobs. But Elliott believes the best và most fulfilling communication is still the old-fashioned way: face khổng lồ face. “You’d be surprised that when you just sit down và talk with somebody, you learn so much from them,” Elliott says. “Technology bridges the gap across the miles. But what’s really sweet about Gastonia is how people interact with one another.”

Elliott says that she’s found Southern hospitality to be very real & she’s looking forward lớn winters in North Carolina without shoveling snow. When asked about summer in the South, she laughs and shakes her head. “Oh, my Lord,” she says. “I will have lớn find a way to lớn get used to lớn the heat và humidity.”

Elliott is eager to lớn meet more city employees and invites people khổng lồ visit the Communications and kinh doanh Department on the first floor of thành phố Hall. She’d like some suggestions about local restaurants, especially Chinese food.

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She says she’s already feeling very much at home in Gastonia. “When I was looking at this position, I said to lớn myself, ‘Wow! This is an opportunity to come in và learn, share and grow in the area of economic development và community engagement. And to continue khổng lồ put Gastonia on the map.’” Look for Elliott to lớn help promote the City’s continuing transformation, và keep an eye on her socks.