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PYSK: Renee Graham

PYSK: Renee Graham

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Public Communications Officer, City of Columbia

AGE: 47

JOB DESCRIPTION: Responsible for handling public records requests; conducting outreach for the “Imagine Columbia’s Future” Visioning Process; serving as city staff liaison for Columbia Submarine Committee and Sister Cities programs; working with other city communicators to keep the public informed about issues; supervising city mailroom and printing services; and performing other duties as assigned.

YEARS LIVED IN COLUMBIA: 28

ORIGINAL HOMETOWN: Fulton

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree from Columbia College.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Member of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the Voluntary Action Center’s
Holiday Family Program and the Heart of Missouri Balloon Club. Supporter of several non-profit
organizations.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I began with the Public Communications Office March 5. I worked for the City
of Columbia’s Convention and Visitors Bureau for nearly 17 years prior, the last seven years as tourism
marketing and communications manager. I came to the bureau from the registrar’s office at Columbia
College. Before that, I worked in a variety of clerical, administrative and sales positions in Columbia.

A COLUMBIA BUSINESS PERSON I ADMIRE: Leigh Lockhart from Main Squeeze Natural Foods Cafe. She is a
hardworking, ethical person who conducts her business with the same values she lives by. She knows her
customers by name and works through the COLORS alliance to support other small-business owners. She is
passionate about using sustainable practices to nurture her patrons, her community and her planet.

WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: I love Columbia! I spent years promoting Columbia to people outside of the
community, so I had many opportunities to see the city through the eyes of a visitor. Columbia really does have a
unique vibe, and I am extremely grateful to be working on behalf of this community.

IF I WEREN’T DOING THIS FOR A LIVING, I WOULD: Be a history teacher.

BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME: Learning to differentiate between the things I can control and those I can’t. I have also had to overcome a bit of shyness. Luckily, I have had great bosses who encouraged me to trust my instincts and believe in my abilities.

A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: After two weeks on the job, I’m starting to get a clearer understanding of the Visioning
Process. I’m in awe of the hard work and dedication of the Visioning Committee and Citizen Topic Groups. They are
dealing with complex issues that affect all aspects of our community. It is exciting to see a cross-section of Columbia working to create a roadmap for our future.

WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFFESSION: Never underestimate the amount of knowledge and insight you
can gain from your peers and your competitors. Find networking groups and colleagues who are willing to share their
successes and failures. Get good reference books, and always, always have other people proofread your work!

WHAT I DO FOR FUN: My husband and I have been hot air balloonists since 1995. We enjoy sport flying and competitive
events.

FAMILY: My husband, Tim, and I have been married for nearly 15 years. I also have one son, Eric Wright, who lives and
works in Columbia.

FAVORITE PLACE IN COLUMBIA: The District. We are lucky to have such a vibrant downtown.

ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: Completing my degree as a divorced mom who was raising a son and working full time. A while back, my son and I were talking about those years, and I expressed regret about the times I wasn’t home for him. He assured me that what he remembers are all the times I was there for him.

MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT I: Am adopted. My parents waited 13 years to adopt my brother and another four years for me. That’s amazing affirmation of one’s worth!

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