For our first, “Meet a Member Monday” we have the honor of talking with Chanel McDaniel, the Director of Marketing at Cheekwood.
How did you enter into the Hospitality industry?
I first began in hospitality at Opry Mills Mall as a Marketing Assistant. Normally, you wouldn’t think that a mall would be in the hospitality industry, but Opry Mills Mall is considered a tourism mall and so it operates a bit differently than other malls. While I was there, I became really close with their Director of Tourism, who later became my mentor, and she introduced me more into the world of tourism and hospitality and I just knew that I wanted to dive into the industry fully. I really enjoyed my job at Opry Mills and didn’t have any intentions of leaving so I looked for part-time roles that would get me into the industry and stumbled across a Social Media Manager role with Gray Line of Tennessee. Well, lucky enough, I got the position and then was offered a Full-Time position in another capacity with Gray Line and really got to dive in with so many great organizations and people through that role, truly connecting with all of the great attractions and restaurants and hotels that make Nashville a top tourism destination.
What brought you to Nashville?
Like a lot of people, I moved to Nashville for a job. Opry Mills was preparing for its grand re-opening in 2012 after being closed for two years following the 2010 flood. I lived in East Tennessee and I came to Nashville to interview for the position on a Thursday I believe. I was offered the job same-day and had to be at work that Monday! I remember that I drove back to Knoxville, told my roommates, packed what I could, and called some friends to see if they knew of a place I could stay in Nashville until I could find an apartment on my own, and within three days, I was officially a Nashville resident.
What is your favorite hidden gem of the city, besides Cheekwood of course?
There are so many amazing places in Nashville that I love to go and see and discover, but honestly, almost nothing compares to the first time I walked into the Downtown Presbyterian Church during a First Saturday Art Crawl. The architecture and art inside took my breath away and if you haven’t seen it, it is a MUST-SEE. They offer tours of the building, but during the art crawl, you can go in and explore on your own.
Also, Fannie Mae Dees Park has a large dragon sculpture made of mosaic tile that is still one of my favorite photo spots in Nashville.
Where are we likely to find you on the weekends or when you aren’t working?
My absolute favorite thing to do when I am not working is to find new murals. There are hundreds of them in Nashville and they are all so beautiful and unique. I also just love any kind of art in general, so if there is a new exhibition at the Frist Art Museum, or if there is an art crawl happening, I am probably there. And, I am a sucker for Arts & Craft Fairs.
Name three things you cannot live without.
Family & friends, my lovely animals (three dogs and a cat), and coffee with cream.
What is the best advice you have received?
I have received so much fantastic advice over the years, it makes it hard to choose the “best.”
There are probably two pieces of advice that I use on a daily basis – “don’t be afraid to ask” and “Write down your accomplishments weekly”
I feel like the “don’t be afraid to ask” has become a bit cliché, but it’s something that a mentor told me early on in my career and something I have to remind myself of quite often. It’s sometimes daunting to ask for what you want, or to ask if we can do it another way, or even to ask for help, but if you don’t ask, the answer is always going to be no, so you might as well speak up and ask. Most of the time when I have employed this, I have been pleasantly surprised.
Also, early on in my career I was told to “write down accomplishments weekly”. It’s very easy to assume that everybody knows what we are doing, what we are accomplishing, and that our work will speak for itself, but people are busy. And in that, WE are busy. By writing down what I have accomplished weekly – or I should say, what my team and I have accomplished weekly – it keeps me focused on the good and on progress and also helps me to have a brag book for those times that we all need it. i.e. when it comes time for annual evaluations, updating resumes, and also, most importantly, just when it’s a rainy no-good day and everything seems to be going wrong and you need a little ray of sunshine.
If you would like to connect with Chanel and share your favorite murals, you can send her an email at CMcDaniel@cheekwood.org.
Cheekwood: Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum located on the historic Cheek estate. Originally built as the home of Leslie and Mabel Cheek in 1929, Cheekwood is one of the finest examples of an American Country Place Era estate. Since being converted into a museum of art and botanical garden in 1960, Cheekwood has presented world-class art exhibitions, spectacular gardens and an historic estate unlike anything else. Each year, Cheekwood welcomes over 225,000 visitors, making it one of the city’s top cultural attractions, with approximately 14,000 member households. Visitors enjoy family activities, programming for all ages and year-round festivals celebrating the four seasons. From 150,000 blooming bulbs in the spring to one mile of holiday lights in the winter, there’s always something to see at Cheekwood.