This summer, Jennie Taylor joined the Virginia Humanities team as our new receptionist. Jennie and Cauline Yates form the dynamic duo who are responsible for greeting guests when they visit our new office, fielding your questions when you call, and so much more.
Since COVID-19 prevents many of you from visiting our new office and meeting Jennie in person, we asked her a few questions to help you get to know her.
You’ve worked with other nonprofits in the past, mostly focused on food security and child welfare. What initially got you excited about working with Virginia Humanities?
I earned a graduate degree in the humanities from Hollins University, so supporting the work of Virginia Humanities, to tell Virginia’s stories, makes me happy.
I’ve been very lucky to build my professional career with non-profits who care deeply about the well-being of some of our most vulnerable populations: low-resource children, food insecure individuals, and immigrants. While my job titles may have read manager or grants writer, I have always enjoyed connecting people and helping folks identify what brings them joy to help further the mission of the organizations I’ve been a part of.
You’ve spent a fair amount of time living in both Virginia and North Carolina. Does one or the other feel more like home?
Although I’ve in lived many different places, Virginia will always be home. I was born a Colorado cowgirl, as my dad used to call me, and I lived in Delaware until seventh grade. I’ve also lived in Roanoke, and I raised my family in Blacksburg.
Before returning to Charlottesville in early 2021, my family and I lived outside of Greensboro, North Carolina for five years–that made going to the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament to cheer for the Hoos very convenient!
Coming back to Charlottesville feels like a longed-for homecoming since I graduated from Western Albemarle High School and UVA. Charlottesville is the magnet that pulled me back to Virginia.
What’s something new you’ve learned about Virginia from working here?
When I have down time, I take the opportunity to check out entries in the Encyclopedia Virginia. What an incredible source of engaging and interesting information! I’ve discovered how easy it is to dive deeply into the entries and click on an article’s links to learn more. I’ve especially enjoyed reading about Maggie Walker and the bank that she started, St Luke Bank and Trust Company.
How have you maintained your sanity through the COVID quarantine? What have you done to keep yourself connected and engaged?
Honestly, it’s been a struggle. Moving during the pandemic has made meeting and connecting with new people, even my next-door neighbors, a challenge. I realized about three months after the move that I craved connection. I’m an outgoing introvert so I really missed being in relationships with others.
I am grateful for the opportunities that Virginia Humanities gives me to connect with my coworkers, all rock stars in their own ways, and the larger community. For me, being surrounded by creative and energetic staff forms a real added bonus to being part of the Virginia Humanities team.
What makes you smile when you get out of bed in the morning?
Just as COVID 19 made its debut in early 2020, so did my first grandchild–wow, what an amazing human! Caius Harley, all dimple cheeked and curly headed. He makes me smile and laugh as we read books, build with play dough, or stroll my neighborhood with the dogs. Being with him and seeing my daughter be a wonderful mama fills my heart to the brim. I enjoy a lot of pastimes and activities, but nothing compares to spending time with him.