Featured Member: Ashlee Estlack

ashlee-jpgMeet Ashlee Estlack, TACCM’s board secretary and Clarendon College’s Chief of Staff.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

I honestly look forward to coming to work each day. I love what I’m doing right now. I get to sit in with the senior staff and advise the president, I am able tell the story of our school and our students and brag about our successes, and I get to be part of something that is bettering the lives of our students and making our communities stronger and more successful. I believe community colleges are the best first step for students seeking training or a degree – and finding ways to spread that message to others is the best part of each day.

What’s the most rewarding project you’ve tackled in the past year?

Clarendon College completed our SACS Accreditation visit last October and received word in June that we were approved for re-accreditation. I had never been involved with a SACS visit or QEP before, but it was an extremely rewarding experience. I enjoyed putting together the marketing materials and activities for the QEP and making sure that the visiting team was taken care of while they were here. Our team worked together and in a very short period of time made sure that we were not only prepared for the visit, but also were approved for re-accreditation. I’ve never been so proud of my coworkers – it took everyone to make the review a success and together we made it happen.

What’s your superpower?

Can multi-tasking be a superpower? Or maybe making something out of nothing? As the Chief of Staff at a small, rural college I wear many, many hats. I serve as the President’s right hand person, handle all of the college’s PR and marketing needs, work with HR and employee benefits, keep up with travel and facility scheduling, and head up most event planning on campus – not to mention “other duties as assigned.” And all of this is on a budget that doesn’t increase from year to year so I have to be creative and make dollars stretch further than they ever have. No two days at work are ever the same, and if I wasn’t busy I’d probably go a little bit crazy. While it is completely chaotic most days, I really wouldn’t change what I do for anything.

What’s something other TACCM members probably don’t know about you?

My family raises show chickens. I have silkie cochins that are named after the cast of Grey’s Anatomy – McDreamy, Meredith, The Chief, etc. We (my kids, the in-laws, and my hubby and I) show the chickens at the Tri-State Fair in Amarillo every year and this year my daughter’s white cochin won best of show – earning her a pretty swanky belt buckle and bragging rights over her brother and two boy cousins.

You hit shuffle on your music collection. What song pops up?

Probably something by Michael Buble – right now I’m enjoy his new song “Nobody but Me” and his version of “The Very Thought of You”. I have pretty eclectic taste in music so you just never know what will pop up – there’s a chance it could be something random from Merle Haggard, Justin Timberlake, or maybe John Mellencamp.

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor, and why?

Again, after reading her book, I’d have to pick Dana Perino. I actually met Tony Snow while I was a student reporter in college, and I was completely mesmerized with his experience as a White House Press Secretary – this is probably where my interest in that position started. After he resigned for health reasons, Dana was named as his replacement. I had the opportunity to hear her speak last year and she spoke on never being afraid to move for the right position, building trust with your team, and that love and family aren’t career killers. She has proven that if you work hard enough you can do anything – she was a girl from a ranch in Wyoming who went on to advise the President of the United States. I admire what she has accomplished, and that she seems to be humble and down to earth after it all.

Last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

Dana Perino’s bio “And the good news is…” I’ve always dreamed of being a press secretary – I enjoy watching “The West Wing” and would love to be CJ Cregg. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Dana’s life pre and post White House, and she has excellent advice for young women starting a career and trying to find their way.


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