Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel
Name a woman in your life that inspires you. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by extremely successful female friends who inspire and challenge me on a regular basis. I will say that during COVID, the most inspirational person has been my best friend since birth. She is a Principal of an Elementary School and has worked tirelessly to find ways to keep the 600 plus kids in her school safe and able to attend live school. She also works constantly to find new ways to motivate an entire team of teachers to find ways to encourage and teach their students during this very difficult time. I believe teachers are some of the hardest working people and am so thankful for what they have done and continue to do for our children.
Describe your career path and how you got to where you are. While I was attending college, I worked for the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney’s office as an administrative assistant to the elected prosecutor and two of his deputy attorneys. I loved going to court with the attorneys and the hustle and bustle of the office. At the time, I had no intention of going to law school. My degree is in Marketing Management and I was awarded the academic achievement award for the Marketing and Transportation Department by the College of Business at graduation. I love school and really did not want college to end, so I took the recommendation of my boss and applied to law school. From day one, I knew law school was the perfect place for me. I love to read, write, talk and debate! During law school, I served as the Executive Editor of the Arkansas Law Review. It was during that period of time that I really began to enjoy drafting and editing and decided to be a corporate attorney rather than go back to the criminal justice side. I clerked for Bass Berry & Sims during the summer after my second year of law school and joined them as an associate after graduation. In my summer internship, I thought I wanted to focus on Mergers and Acquisition. About three weeks into the summer, I moved to the Commercial Real Estate department and never left. During my first week as an attorney at Bass Berry – before the Tennessee bar results were even released -I went to a client’s office for a closing. That client was then called Davidson Hotel Company – now Davidson Hospitality Group. I worked with two amazing partners at Bass Berry and was able to be an associate on Davidson’s account for almost four years. I then joined Davidson in-house as an Associate Attorney. I worked my way up to a Vice President, then Senior Vice President and General Counsel, then Executive Vice President and General Counsel and most recently to Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel.
What advice to you have for women that are just entering the work force? Be confident and make sure your voice is heard.
What are you most proud of when looking back on your career? I am the most proud of the evolution from seen as an attorney to being considered to be a business partner who also happens to be an attorney. I’m very proud of my ability to adapt to changing circumstances during my career. I am very thankful to work for a company that has always encouraged me to continue to learn and allowed me to shape my role to the current needs of the company and industry. Every year I am amazed that my job looks very little like it did the prior year.
What are some milestone accomplishments you have achieved during your tenure at Davidson? How do you continue to create value? I am thankful to have worked with several amazing female leaders to form Women in Leadership at Davidson (“Wild”). Wild was formed in 2019 and meets monthly with our corporate female team members on a variety of educational and social topics. We want to continue to enable and encourage our female leaders to build and develop strong bonds and skills to enhance their personal and work lives. Transitioning over the years from a junior attorney to leading the legal department and now overseeing risk management and human resources has been a great accomplishment. These transitions lead to me becoming the first “C-level” female in Davidson’s history was a great milestone both for me personally and for industry. I have always loved the phrase “the more you read, the more you know.” To me, creating value is about staying relevant and doing what it takes to understand the current industry environment.
What are the most notable changes you’re seeing in the hospitality industry today and how do you envision the next 3-5 years? The last two years have been the most difficult and dynamic years that we have witnessed in hospitality. It has been amazing to see the creative ways our teams have adapted to the changing world of hospitality and guest service. The pandemic has shown us that people want to travel and want to connect with others. I think we will see hospitality continue to transform and find new ways to create experiences for guests instead of simply providing a room for a night or weekend.