Keep Moving Forward

Posted on October 14, 2019

Jennifer Casey

This article guest is by Jennifer Casey, Public Information Officer with the Town of Collierville. Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn or Twitter.

What I’m Watching: Bluff City Law

What I’m Reading: “A little piece of light : a memoir of hope, prison, and a life unbound” by Donna Hylton

What I’m Listening to: “The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe” (I love the {quick} storytelling style!)

One day my mother texted me a picture of a Commercial Appeal article that read the Town of Collierville, Tennessee was looking to hire a writer. I applied, because I needed a job. At the time, I didn’t realize how much I needed that job.

Writing has always been a passion of mine – I even enjoyed diving into term papers in school. It’s a fulfilling challenge to break down and explore a topic, then piece it back together as an interesting story. I never thought about working for a municipality; to be honest I didn’t even know it was an option. My previous professional experience was working for the McKesson Corporation as a Customer Service Representative. There wasn’t much writing involved besides the quarterly newsletter that I created just for fun.

I was hired by the Town of Collierville in November of 2013 as a part-time writer and receptionist in the Administration Department. I wrote press releases for the Public Information Office, answered incoming phone calls, and often helped lost residents find the right office to pay their water bills. During my down-time, I started to work on social media slides, take pictures at events, and provide graphic design assistance with print publications. I saw a need for the Town to strengthen its online presence as well as elevate its branding to coincide with the overall vision of the Town of Collierville. Just as writing is an enjoyable creative process for me, I was excited to use multimedia to enhance our communication.

Proving my worth came at a vital time for me. At 30 years old, my professional life was finally coming together. Unfortunately, at the same time, my personal life was falling apart. My marriage was over and I became a single mom of two young children. I didn’t want to give up my job with Collierville, so I picked up another part-time job tending bar for a catering company. My days and nights were long, but I kept moving forward.

In early 2015, the Town created an Emerging Media Specialist position within the Public Information Office, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the role, and I started as the first Emerging Media Specialist in February of 2015. The new full-time job consisted of writing content for traditional and online communication, and covering creative messaging through graphic design, photography, and videography.

In my first few years with the Town of Collierville, I launched the Town’s email newsletter and annual report websites, contributed to the social media growth across all platforms by an average of 70%, and played a vital role in the 2014 digital marketing campaign for Collierville’s title as “America’s Best Main Street” by PARADE Magazine.

I am very proud of my accomplishments, but I am beyond proud to be a part of a town that supported both my work and my family. While I was busy building a career, I was also building a new home. In the spring of 2016, I purchased a house in Collierville just in time for my oldest child to enroll in Kindergarten in our fantastic public school system. We were completely  embraced by our new neighborhood and elementary school. The timing was crucial, because life was about to change again.

On October 10, 2016, my former husband, my children’s father, unexpectedly passed away. At the time, everything felt like it stopped. (Even saying it just now, three years later, the words just hang there.) My supervisor was sensitive to the fact that I needed to take care of my children and myself, but that I also needed to work and experience normality. And once again, our community embraced us even more. I learned about free grief counseling at our local hospital, received a month’s worth of groceries from my church, and given a weekend trip for my family to visit my brother’s family in Denver, Colorado. Eventually, life started to move forward again. I kept working, although I did let go of the catering job.

In the spring of 2019, the Town’s Public Information Officer (PIO) position became open. I stepped into the role as the Interim PIO to fulfill the gap in the department. I was ready to take on more responsibility and become involved with the overall communication strategy and management of the Public Information Office. After a couple of months in the interim, I was offered the official title of Public Information Officer.

In six years, I never would have imagined how much my life would change, professionally or personally. I’m honored that the Town of Collierville gave me so much opportunity for growth, sees me as a valuable part of this organization, and most importantly, provided the support and stability my family needed.

I am thankful that I continue to work and give back the community that gave me everything I needed to keep moving forward.

Jennifer Casey is the Public Information Officer for the Town of Collierville, Tennessee; a community of just over 50,000 residents east of Memphis. She is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a degree in Journalism. A native to the Memphis area, she spends her free time raising two children named after U.S. Presidents, enjoys staying fit but does not particularly like to exercise, and loves her mother’s gluten-free baking.

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