Last week I attended the Orlando Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business” Awards Banquet. Many accomplished women were in attendance, but there was only one reason to go and eat yet another chicken dinner: Tiffany Hughes.
Tiffany is formally our Director of Community and Corporate Engagement. More accurately, she is our Chief Excitement Officer, expert networker, therapist, event planner, corporate shakedown artist, advisor to our ambassadors, confidant of our donors, and always the smartest person in the room. Tiffany never sleeps and wouldn’t be caught dead without a name tag. She is a disciple of Helen Donegan (mentors matter) and always has a smile on her face and a can of “Big Sexy Hair” in her seemingly bottomless purse.
By all accounts, our friends at the OBJ were the last to figure out that Tiffany Hughes is “a woman to watch”–their designation for up-and-comers. The rest of us figured that out the first time we met her. All you need to know is that wherever I go, the first question I get asked when I enter a room is “Where’s Tiffany?” Disappointment and shock that I am sometimes left on my own follows. I understand. There is no one quite like Tiffany Hughes.
Today, I am welcoming a group of young girls to the College. They have likely never set foot on a university campus and are here to attend a “Girls Going Places Conference.” I will tell them what I tell all students: to look for ways to sit on logs and have conversations with people who have interesting things to say and can help shape their perspective on the world. I will then ask them to form a line and to take a few minutes each to talk with Tiffany: Teaching is not reserved solely for professors even in universities.
On a more personal note…….To Nikki and Maddie: I know we take up a great deal of your mom’s time, way more than we should really. I also know that at your ages, it is hard to imagine that your mother is way cool. I am sorry that I didn’t insist on having you attend the OBJ dinner. You really should have been there to see the huge amount of admiration and adoration people from all over Central Florida have for your mom. She is a remarkable woman who teaches us all something every day. Do like the rest of us and learn from her. In a few short years, people will be asking your boss where you are when they enter a room alone.