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VIProfile: Andrea J. Loughry




Why do people get involved in community,” Andrea Loughry asked rhetorically. “Is it just people who are born here? That have histories way back? Or is it people who come here, like I did, just passing through from undergraduate to graduate school and got wrapped up in the very attractive heart in this community?”

Gracious and vibrant, Loughry has been the first woman to do many things in Rutherford County, however she prefers to keep the spotlight firmly on her many interests instead of her accomplishments, as each accomplishment took a village to get moving forward. Since being asked by Governor Bill Haslam to join the Tennessee Arts Commission in 2011, where she served as Vice Chairman, she has been focusing her attention on the arts.

“I’ve always supported the arts,” said Loughry, “but I never thought they’d be calling me to serve on the Arts Commission. I grew up in a small town. Classical music was called ‘long hair’ music when I was growing up…Being on that Arts Commission opened me up to a whole new world. I never took any humanities classes in college because in science you had so many requirements you didn’t have any electives. And that is where most people pick up the arts. So, I never got exposed to that.”

But the Arts Commission experience inspired her. She is a founding member of the Rutherford Arts Alliance (RAA), which got started in 2017. She has stayed involved with the organization to help it find its feet. They are currently in the process of hiring their first Executive Director.

Loughry also helped to found a business women’s conference through the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce – called Learn Grow Connect – which led to the creation of a CABLE women’s leadership group being founded in Rutherford County. RUTHERFORDCable states on their website that their vision is to be “…an influential, resource-rich organization affecting positive change for women to achieve personal and professional success.”

She has also had her hand in the development of Tennessee STEAM Festival, Mind2Marketplace,and Books from Birth. Each of these organizations resonate with her interests, which are diverse. She has been a teacher, a principal at Miller and Loughry Insurance (now Miller Loughry Beech) and a long-time community advocate for education, women and the arts.

“My kids would ask me when I had a commitment to one of these community things I do, why do you do that?” noted Loughry. “Is that just good for business? And I said, well no, it gives you a chance to be around other like-minded people that have a heart for doing things for others, and wanting to make the community better for everyone.”

“Sometimes my friends will say, if Andrea calls, don’t answer because she will talk you into helping her with some of her things,” Loughry said with a chuckle.

One of her most recent projects was “Leading Ladies.” Begun during the pandemic, it was meant to be part of the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the vote -- thanks to Tennessee being the swing state -- but it became a celebration of women and women’s friendships that extended over a number of years.

“We decided to highlight the performing arts with an originally written, community developed play, called Party of Twelve,” explained Loughry. “Our intention was to have the play premier in August of 2020.”

Of course, plans were changed by the pandemic, but the project brought together historians and others from the community to create a committee charged with finding a representational group of women from the late 1800s until the mid-1900s. Not just famous women, but women who influenced the culture, from those who made a difference at church to those who had national influence.

“We wanted the play to not just be an original piece,” said Loughry, “but one that also fit the community. It had to resonate.” 

“I have done NOTHING without the help of friends and colleagues,” Loughry stated firmly. “I revel in the accomplishments of the organizations or projects I have worked with others to get off the ground. It is the power of the collective group of talented minds and driving personalities that have made these projects and organizations a success. Not me. I am simply a ‘conduit of connection.’”

Little did she know at the time, her ability to be that “conduit” in the community began when she made her career choice. Loughry came from a small hamlet in northwest Tennessee. She saw that the respected women from that community were either home economic teachers or nurses. Gagging at the sight of blood (her exact words), she chose to become a teacher.

Loughry came to Murfreesboro following her graduation from University of Tennessee Martin (UT Martin). After summer in Europe, she accepted a teaching position at Central High School in Murfreesboro.

That job led her to an opportunity to work on a state-level research project on daycare, which gave her a thesis topic for her Master’s Degree, she was hired at MTSU. So she stayed in Murfreesboro one more year. Upon completion of her advanced degree at University of Tennessee Knoxville, she was hired at MTSU. She stayed 10 years, and started a family during that time. (She now has seven grandchildren.)

Then she decided it was time for a change.

Having grown up with parents who ran their own business, she went looking for a career that would fit her personality and allow her to continue working outside the home. With Clark Maples (a long-time friend of she and her husband Ed) as a partner, they created a new insurance agency, Maples and Loughry. As Clark Maples real estate business grew, he got out of the insurance business and eventually Loughry partnered with Eddie Miller to buy out his father’s insurance agency, now celebrating 75 years in business. They brought in Ken Halliburton, who bought out her share when she retired.

Becoming a business woman led to Loughry’s involvement with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, where she became the first female chair. She was also one of the first group of females invited to join Rotary Club of Murfreesboro, the year before membership was open to females at the international level.

“I grew up with a family that gave to the community, not just with checks,” added Loughry. “Our family was always involved with the Chamber in our small community. The Chamber is an important way to get known in the business community. It was especially important when I got started, since there were so few women in business at the time. And it was an outlet for creative thinking.”

Although retired, and passing the reigns of RAA on to others, Loughry finds herself looking for some new creative endeavor to get started. She loves learning new things. And building new things.

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