We asked our board members to answer a handful of pretty standard questions without thinking too hard about them. We found that YPAL’s board is made up of some interesting young professionals.
Stephanie Rowe is a Louisville native and attended Mercy Academy, where she is now a member of the Alumnae Board. After graduating from Centre College in 2006, she moved to Washington, DC to pursue a Masters of Professional Studies in Political Management at The George Washington University.
After working in politics for several years, she returned to Louisville in 2012. She is currently planning her wedding (in April 2015), recently bought a house in the Germantown neighborhood with her fiancé, and has an adorable Chihuahua mutt named Reese. Stephanie is the Director of Public Issues for YPAL, and she currently works as a Clinical Project Manager at Humana.
So, why YPAL?
I lived and worked in Washington, DC for five and a half years after college, and I love that there are so many young professionals there and that they really are driving a lot of what happens in the city – from development, to professional opportunities, to philanthropy, to culture. When I returned to Louisville, I wanted to be part of a community that was empowering and engaging young professionals here, and I was excited to find that YPAL was strong, active and shared my goals.
Before you landed in DC, what was your first job?
My first job was at Kroger as a cashier. It was kind of fun at 16 to get to operate the cash register. It was also my first time learning to deal with work stress – people are always in a rush at the grocery store and there are “rush hours” so people can be impatient and grouchy. But, I realized that being pleasant and polite despite people’s meanness was really effective, and it has been critical to my success in every position I’ve held since. In fact, I had multiple people try to tip me (keeping in mind I was a cashier and not helping folks carry their groceries to their car), and one middle-aged gentleman tried to “tip” me by offering a free massage. He had a business card, so I think he was on the up-and-up, but I never took him up on that offer.
Even though you learned a ton, I’m guessing that Kroger wasn’t your dream job. When you were younger, what kind of career ambitions did you have?
Well, after my career as a professional ballerina fizzled at the age of 5, I always thought I would be a teacher. I LOVED school; I even used to play “school” with my friends during after-school care. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), when I took my first education course at Centre, we were required to start classroom observations. I became very aware of how privileged I was to attend Catholic school for 1st through 12thgrade, and I realized that the reasons children don’t succeed in the classroom are far larger than what is happening in that room. So, I became more interested in government and public policy, which ultimately led me to becoming Congressman Yarmuth’s legislative advisor for education policy. There is a literacy program that I helped write that is helping kids (I hope) at this moment! I have moved away from education in my career, but it is still very close to my heart and is where I target my philanthropic resources.
What’s your current career ambition / goal?
Finding the trifecta of 1) a sense of purpose and doing good, 2) applying my political and public policy experience, and 3) a strong work-life balance.
What’s the best career advice you have ever received?
I’m fair-skinned and get fidgety when nervous, so one former boss advised me to 1) always wear high-cut shirts to job interviews in case my neck and collarbone got splotchy when I was nervous, and 2) be mindful of my hands or keep them folded because fidgeting tips off people to any insecurity (I still struggle with this one). I must have been a hot-mess when I interviewed for that job, so I’m so thankful she was able to look past those gaffes! I’ve received much more philosophical advice in the past, but this has been the most actionable and really boils down to being aware of oneself and the non-verbal messages you convey about who you are and how competent you are
After living in a larger city like DC, why did you come back to Louisville?
My fiancé and I are both from Louisville, and our families are here. While we’ve both lived other places, we wanted to be near them. I am also delighted that Louisville has really blossomed in recent years – particularly in the area that is closest to my heart – uh, stomach – dining!
Speaking of dining, what’s your favorite place to eat in the city?
It’s impossible to pick just one! Since I just moved to Germantown, I’ll give a plug for my two neighborhood restaurants – Hammerheads and Come Back Inn. Outdoor dining is my favorite thing to do in the city. Preferably where I can people-watch and bring my dog.