Women We Know, Strong, Courageous, and Resilient – Part Deux
By Cindi Alpert
It was March 2008 when we flipped the switch and turned on our radio station, 106.1 The River, after building it from the ground up. It was probably the worst year in decades to start a business, let alone start a new radio station that was competing with big corporate competition. I told my husband we must be crazy to leave Naples, Florida and our cushy jobs running the family radio station to go out on our own and move 850 miles away with no friends, family, business contacts, and limited capital to start a new venture.
The first phone call I made when I arrived was to the Knoxville Ice Bears, because I wanted to do business with this organization and sing the National Anthem at a game. They were so warm and inviting, and after hearing my audition tape, their promotions director booked me right away.
We had a big job to do in Knoxville, and all odds were against us as independent broadcasters. I don’t know if it was the incredible hospitality of the Ice Bears staff and management or the fact that the Coliseum went nuts after that first heart pounding experience, singing the toughest song in the world. The arena resonated sound like no other I’ve heard and literally gave me chills, but at that moment, I knew I was ready for a new challenge and maybe, just maybe, Knoxville would be ready for me.
This is part two of a series highlighting Knoxville women we know and their stories.
Bonnie Harlow, Professional Assistant and Organizer
Not being in complete control has always been tough for me. I’m the stereotypical Type A personality that takes charge and likes things to be done a certain way.
In 2004, being in control wasn’t an option. I received a call that every parent dreads, informing me that my nine-year-old son had a brain aneurysm and a stroke. Barely able to make it to the hospital to see my unconscious son before being rushed into surgery, I realized in this moment I had no control.
As a teacher at a Christian high school, I had presented a devotion on Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all thy heart; and lean not to thy own understanding.” After surgery, as the neurosurgeon explained there’s no way to predict my son’s outcome, ranging from complete recovery to lifelong disability, I applied the lessons of this devotion right then in my own life.
My son is now 17 and a walking reminder that I can trust our wonderful God and the incredible people in my life. Though I still struggle, I know in my heart I can relax and let go.
Jennifer Ratcliff, Realtor
When I relocated to Knoxville from Texas in June 2004, I only knew one person locally and honestly, not very well. I was fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom and enjoyed the extra time spent with my children.
In 2006, I decided I wanted to return to the workforce. I had developed a keen interest in real estate and felt it would be a career that offered the flexibility my family needed. Starting my career was a much greater task than I anticipated, especially not being native to Knoxville and knowing a limited number of people. I hired help with the children, because most clients wanted to view homes on nights and weekends. Finding someone to help take care of my children was the biggest obstacle, but thankfully I found a special individual who has lovingly helped me for five years now.
I was forced outside my comfort zone, finding it crucial to introduce myself to new people. Learning to be my biggest promoter was extremely difficult. I think what helped the most was the realization, both by me and my clients, that I wasn’t a salesperson. Honestly, my primary interest is to help my clients find the house of their dreams.
Real estate is more than a job now; it’s become my way of helping others feel comfortable and supported through a difficult, life-changing process. I’m so thankful I’ve learned to face my fears and venture outside my comfort zone. I have a long way to go before I meet my goals, but in learning to trust myself, my knowledge, and my skills, I’ve taken the always treacherous first step.
Linda Heaton Parrent, Executive Managing Director of eWomenNetwork and Media Development Executive – East TN PBS
It was a hot summer day in August 1968. I was eight years old. My mother and aunt were busy catching up, and the kids were taking turns jumping in the pool. I jumped in thinking it was four feet deep, but it was eight feet. I didn’t know how to swim yet and started to take in gulps of water each time my head bobbed up for air. I tried to call out for help; no one heard me because of the noise in the pool.
My mother became aware of the situation and screamed out to save me. A woman heard my mother and ran to my aid by grabbing me by my hair – the only thing that was visible. When I was out of the water, I cried uncontrollably because the fear had taken over, and I knew if that lady didn’t pull me out, I would’ve died. The lady told me I had a mission to fulfill and was destined to do great things.
At age eight, you don’t really take it seriously. Looking back now, she influenced me in my decisions. I guess she was always in the back of my mind, guiding me in my decisions. I’ve always taken risks and walked through the door of opportunity.
Today, I’m the new Media Development Executive with East Tennessee PBS and the Executive Managing Director of eWomenNetwork. My latest venture is launching LindaHeatonParrent.com – a Coaching and Speaking firm specializing in helping others find the direction they need to achieve and prosper. I believe we all have greatness in us, but we need to tap into it to find the significance in our lives.