Meet the people who have them
By Ali Turner
BG Louisville Editor
After having a few years of upstanding membership in Louisville’s young professional community, I’ve come across the under, over and, well, awesomely employed. And while I think my own 9-to-5 (or let’s face it, YPs, 8-to-8) job is tops, there are plenty of other awesome opportunities in Louisville.
After all, we live in a place dubbed “Possibility City.”
From being the social media voice behind Maker’s Mark bourbon to developing some of Louisville most promising up-and-coming leaders at the Leadership Louisville Center, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at four really cool jobs in the city.
Get ready to be jealous (and maybe buff up your résumé).
Rachel Ford, Maker’s Mark editor-in-chief/ senior social strategist at Doe-Anderson
What’s it like to be the voice behind one of Kentucky’s, or even the country’s, most beloved brands? Rachel Ford knows. Heading up social media for Maker’s Mark is an ever-changing endeavor that blends Rachel’s talents in copywriting, public relations and good ole’ word-of-mouth marketing with Maker’s clever and honest brand tone.
Rachel’s job is all about storytelling, a job for which Rachel has an undeniable panache. Her previous experience producing documentaries paired with her natural charm and wordsmith abilities gave her the creative chops to carry the Maker’s brand to a new level on social and online media.
Just four years ago, Rachel was living in Mississippi working for PBS. After her documentary “Divided We Stand” and series “Between the Lions” wrapped, she felt it was time for a change. She decided to head to another big city, searching for jobs mainly in Nashville and Atlanta. When she came across a position for Maker’s Mark social media manager at one of Louisville’s leading advertising agencies, Doe-Anderson, she felt pulled to apply.
But Maker’s Mark is where she was meant to be all along, she said. She knew it the moment she interviewed with Bill Samuels Jr., then president of Maker’s Mark, in 2011.
“I thought it would be intimidating,” Rachel said, “and not just because of how much of a role he played in making Maker’s the iconic brand it is today. But, man, this guy is intelligent.”
Instead, she felt immediately at ease. When she walked out of the interview, she called her mother. “I called my mom and told her, ‘This is it. This is where I’m meant to be,’”
She couldn’t have been more right.
In the past three years, Rachel said, there has not been a single boring day. After all, when you’re responsible for working with the creative team on new pitches, crafting Maker’s Mark’s latest Instagram post or even demonstrating how to dip a Maker’s bottle in its signature red wax, how can it be anything other than exciting?
“I get to talk about bourbon every day,” Rachel said. “And not just any bourbon, but Maker’s Mark. It’s an incredible brand to be a part of, and I can’t help but feel a twinge of pride every time I get to tell someone what I do.”
What’s next for Rachel? Using her creative skills in another way: renovating a house in Old Louisville. While she said she may discover hidden talents in carpentry or home repair, her heart will always belong to Maker’s.
Rachel, we have the perfect paint suggestions you: a signature, but perhaps not waxy, red.
Aaron Miller, director of programs at the Leadership Louisville Center
You may know his voice. Aaron Miller, after all, used to be a “radio guy” at one of Louisville top radio stations. But you’ll no longer hear his voice on the waves. Now, he uses his talents with people and a passion for the city as the director of Leadership Louisville Center’s top programs: Leadership Louisville,
Ignite Louisville, Focus Louisville and the Bingham Fellows.
What brought Aaron to Leadership Louisville was a little bit of fate and a little bit of tried-and-true networking.
“I had been working in radio for 17 years,” Aaron said, “but I was never sure what my next chapter would be.”
Aaron first met Cynthia Knapek, president of the Leadership Louisville Center, years ago when she was the executive director of Brightside, a non-profit in Louisville. In the summer of 2011, Cynthia, then-vice president of the Leadership Louisville Center, called Aaron and asked if he was interested in a career change.
That summer, he became director of programs at Leadership Louisville Center, a job he said never gets boring.
“I get to work with an amazing group of people,” Aaron said, “and I really feel like the work we’re doing makes a difference and makes Louisvillea better place.”
In his role, there’s no average day. One day may include planning for an upcoming event, working with community partners or talking to perspective participants, and the next could be spent in Fort Knox taking an Ignite class through an intense obstacle course. However, Aaron said, it is this variety that makes every day interesting.
The work Aaron does with Leadership Louisville goes far beyond his own life. Instead, his job is to change the lives of others. The programs the center provides take people who might be new to town or may have lived in the Derby City their whole lives and gets them to experience the city in a new way.
“It’s not just about networking, although that is a piece,” Aaron said. “It’s about making people take ownership of the place they live. I get to meet hundreds of people each year who come to us to learn more about the community, grow their leadership abilities, and connect with other people who share their same passion for community management. It’s just a perfect role for me.”
Why is Aaron’s job so cool? It has something to do with getting to work with such great people, he said. From the Leadership Louisville staff to the people who go through the programs each year, Aaron says he always is part of the “best class ever.”
This year, the center will double its popular Ignite Louisville program for up-and-coming young professional leaders, as well as launch a new program called Encore Louisville, which will target
Louisville’s retiring community leaders.
There may be no shortage of things to do at the Leadership Louisville Center this year, but this husband and father says he’d like to get back to blogging (that is, if he has time).
Kelly Rains, lead art manager at Uptown Art Louisville
You know of Uptown Art. Perhaps you’ve even had a nice glass of wine while channeling your inner Van Gough there. But what’s one great thing to know about this paint-and-wined filled night? For starters, meet Kelly Rains, Uptown Art’s manager.
As lead art manager of Uptown Art, Kelly runs the show behind one of Louisville favorite ladies’ nights out destinations. Not only does she teach three classes a week in the Louisville studio to more than 70 guests per class, but she also keeps the operations going behind the scenes, too, making sure that the overall Uptown Art experience is memorable for clients.
What brought her to Uptown Art? Really, she’s been a part of the company since the beginning.
Just a few months after completing her BFA in painting from the University of Georgia’s prestigious art program in 2009, Kelly moved to Louisville. Friend and fellow Georgians Chad and Lauren Coulter were recent Kentucky-transplants and felt Kelly would appreciate the pace of Louisville life. After two years in Louisville (and an internship at the Louisville Visual Arts Association), Chad and Lauren opened Uptown Art, convinced that Kelly was the perfect fit to manage (and teach at) their unique business.
When Uptown Art opened in 2011, its popularity exploded and the studio became one of the most popular art experiences in town. What had started out as an idea around a friend’s dinner table and a few online chats soon became sold-out classes and a full staff.
“It all fell into place like magic,” Kelly said. Meeting Kelly is an experience you won’t forget. Her amiable personality and genuine love for people transitions beautifully into a teaching environment. It comes as no surprise that meeting and entertaining people is Kelly’s favorite part of the job. “At the end of every class I teach, there is always at least one customer that says ‘You have the coolest job ever!’ I just smile and say, ‘Yes, I do,’” she said.
Kelly not only teaches novice artists how to recreate well-known art pieces, but she also creates original paintings the art teachers will help others recreate in Uptown Art’s classes.
When Kelly isn’t teaching (or making sure Uptown Art stocks the perfect wine for guests), she continues to practice her craft in her free time. With all the exciting growth in Uptown Art’s business, including opening a second location in New Albany in 2013, Kelly says the business, turning three this year, will remain a creative outlet for wannabe artists for years to come.
Nick Stover, director of social media engagement, UofL Athletics
In his own way, Nick Stover is a bit like the Wizard of Oz. After all, he is the man behind some of college athletics top social media accounts, those of the University of Louisville’s NCAA teams and, of course, theFlying Cardinal (@flyingcardinal).
Nick’s offices could be called some of the hottest spots in Louisville. After all, he works wherever the Cards play. While the regular season keeps Nick at some of Louisville’s hottest venues, including Papa John’s Stadium and the KFC Yum! Center, he also travels to major tournaments with Louisville’s Divison 1 teams, giving the fans the best seat in town. From interviews with players to providing real-time, behind-the-scenes updates on game day, Nick gives an online look into to being a part of the #L1C4 family.
“I get to share the excitement of life as a Louisville fan and student-athlete with people through social media,” Nick said. “My goal is to provide an incredible online experience for Louisville fans.”
What is his favorite part of his job? Nick gets to meet some of Louisville’s most passionate fans, learn about their dedicated student-athletes and observe some of the most successful coaches in the country on a daily basis.
Cards fans may now be asking, ‘How do I get his job?’ According to Nick, he went to great heights to get the attention of the
“In order to stand out from hundreds of other qualified applicants,” Nick said, “one of the materials I submitted during my interview phase was a video showing my first skydiving experience. During the jump, I wore a red Louisville Cardinals shirt and smiled from ear to ear while signing Louisville’s official hashtag (#L1C4) during my 10,000-foot free-fall.”
Not only did his stunt help him “land” the job, but it is also how he coined his now locally famous nickname, “The Flying Cardinal.”
Louisville sports have kept Nick busy lately. Last year, Nick’s job took him to a BCS Bowl in New Orleans, the Big East Championship at Madison Square Garden, the College World Series, and, who can forget, both a women’s and men’s NCAA Championship game.
“Louisville’s recent athletic success and our emphasis on becoming an early adopter of cutting-edge technology such as Google Glass helped me build relationships with Facebook, Twitter and Google,” Nick said.
All of this, Nick says, makes every day at his job exciting. Nick also is working on earning his PhD in sports administration at UofL, which is heightened by his day-to-day experiences as @TheFlyingCardinal. He says he could see teaching in his future, too.
“After another year or two likes the one’s we’ve just had,” Nick said, “I’ll have enough stories to share for a lifetime in the classroom.”
So while you may not have to jump out of a plane to get your dream job, the stories of these four lucky YPs should inspire us to sometimes leave our own comfort zones in the name of a cool gig. Whether it is an industry change, a move, or, we’ll admit, going the extra mile to get a company’s attention, your next career move is yours to make. Make it.