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VIProfile: Regina Ward

By Lee Rennick

Regina Ward is the Director of Education and Workforce Development at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. She is what is becoming a rarity these days, a Murfreesboro native. Regina grew up not far from the City Square on Lytle Street. Currently, she is working with schools and businesses to insure a well-trained future workforce, while also being deeply involved in the community.

“My… role is the engagement and operation of … programs specifically for our kindergartens through high schools in partnership with Murfreesboro City and the Rutherford County School systems,” said Ward. “We work closely with our school systems and our phenomenal business partners to provide these programs and give our students opportunity to see all of their options as they begin to look at … their future careers.”

Rutherford Works Education Programs
Ward explains that under Rutherford Works, the economic development arm of the Chamber, an uncommon partnership has been created with businesses and education. The goal of the partnership is to empower and inspire the current and future workforce of Rutherford County to be highly skilled and employed to achieve a better life.

The program was developed to insure continued economic growth through a well-prepared workforce for the jobs coming to the area, and new ones being developed by current employers. In her programs, students in Rutherford County practice soft skills in elementary grades, and they are exposed to career exploration in middle school so they are prepared for a career track system in high school. In high school, they have the option to enroll in career and technical education programs that will prepare them for high demand, high wage jobs in Construction, Health Care, Information Technology, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management.

Locally Educated
Ward is herself a 2005 graduate of Riverdale High School, and she finished her degree in Organizational Communication at Middle Tennessee State University, after spending three years at University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

“I think I always knew I’d end up [at MTSU],” said Ward, “I practically grew up on the campus as my father was a professor there before he passed away… So, coming home felt right…I still enjoy giving back to my professors there by speaking in their classes each semester and hosting an intern from the major.”

Community Involvement Began Early
After Ward got married in 2014 to husband, Alden, he was offered a job at Boys and Girls Clubs of America National Headquarters located in Atlanta, Georgia. While they were there living there, Ward worked on the fundraising team at Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta as the Director of Regional Fundraising.

“Our team covered a 10-county radius, and raised approximately $16M,” explained Ward. “Working for an organization I cared so deeply about, while also working alongside some of the smartest, most dedicated professionals was a true joy.”

During their time in Atlanta, Ward was a member of the Junior League during their centennial. Currently, she serves as the President of the Junior League of Murfreesboro.

“Our Junior League is made up of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities … Community specific, we focus in on the advocacy of mental health and wellness for women and families.”

She is also a steering committee member for United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties Young Leaders Society, Club Blue at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rutherford County and Siegel High School’s Humanities Academy Council. She serves on the planning committees for the Rutherford County Heart Ball’s Late Party and the Discovery Center’s Secret Garden Party. Plus, she is in the Leadership Rutherford Class of 2020!

A Heart for the Arts
In her free time, she does choreography for theatre at the Arts Center of Cannon County, employing a longtime interest in dance.

“Six years ago, a childhood friend of mine asked me to help her with a show she was doing that was centered around cheerleaders, Bring It On, at the Arts Center of Cannon County. I cheered in middle and high school and danced competitively growing up, so she thought I’d be a good ask. I was terrified and had NO idea what I was doing. To this day, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made... I’ve now choreographed nine shows at the Arts Center of Cannon County, including this past summer’s Mamma Mia… I am just blessed that they keep asking me to come back!”

The arts are also where her career began. Her first job after college was as an event planner at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where she had interned in college.

“It was an amazing time in my very new career life,” said Ward, “and I learned more than I could ever explain. Yes, there were lots of music moguls and beautiful parties, but the history and the music of that organization will stay with me forever. I also gained some wonderful mentors and friends that I still stay in touch with today.”

Her Heart Belongs to Tennessee
“I love this community, my family, and our church home at the Experience,” added Ward. “Alden and I have had the privilege of watching our community grow, while we ourselves were growing up, and it has been an honor to be raised in a place that is good, and full of kind people who love their community and want only for it to be better than the day before.””

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