July’s “Staff Spotlight” features CPE’s fearless leader, Director John Freeze. His passion for CPE, building relationships, history, and learning are evident throughout the article. The CPE team appreciates his servant leadership, caring personality…and the MANY jokes that often accompany staff meetings!
1. How long have you been in your role?
2. What does a “day in the life” look like for you in your role?
Seldom are two days ever the same. I generally start my day around 7:00 a.m. During the morning, I try to get a jump start on any pressing daily or weekly activities. Throughout the day, I’m in meetings and having discussions with CPE team members, stakeholders, and program participants. As the day winds down, I begin focusing on getting my “tasks” done, whether programmatic or operational office tasks.
3. What do you enjoy most about working at CPE?
The people. Not just the people in the office—though they are pretty fantastic! I really enjoy working with the various stakeholders and individuals that support our work. I am continually amazed by the number of connections I have, both locally, regionally, and even state-wide. I do not think this is a testament to me having exceptional networking skills but rather a testament to the appreciation people develop for the work we do. As individuals get to know CPE and our mission, it becomes rather easy to engage with them over a long period of time.
4. What motivates you to get up and go to work every morning?
My mortgage. Also, I like to eat.
5. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while in your role at CPE?
Oftentimes, folks don’t realize the full scope of all that CPE does. Telling our story has to be a part of everything we do, each and every day.
6. What is your favorite project or a memorable moment you’ve had while working at CPE?
Wow! Tough question. There are so many things we’ve accomplished that I am extremely proud of. This may dodge answering the question specifically, but it’s all been memorable. Five years ago, this office (at least in its current configuration and programming scope) did not exist. Almost everything that we do is new, and it’s been very exciting to watch CPE grow.
7. In one sentence, how would you define true leadership?
Leadership is the ability to inspire others to do great things without ever telling them what to do.
8. What is a professional motto or quote you “work” by?
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” —George Bernard Shaw
9. Why do you believe continuous education and training are important for individuals?
Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” In this case, young doesn’t necessarily imply age. It can simply imply that someone is active, limber, engaged, or full of potential.
10. List five adjectives that describe your personality.
Quiet. Thoughtful. Compassionate. Silly. Appreciative.
11. If you could live in any other historical period, what would it be and why?
The 1930s and 40s. Only recently has this become an area of interest for me—but man, what a time in history.
12. What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
13. What’s a fun fact about you that would surprise people?
Ich habe für eine jahre Deutsch lernen. Es waren viel spaß sein! Jetzt Ich habe viel freunde aus Deutschland gemacht! Es war am Anfang langsam, aber jetzt ich kann mit leute sprechen. Die beste Lektion habe ich gelernt: Übung macht den Meister.
(Translation: I’ve been learning German for a year. It was a lot of fun! Now I’ve made a lot of friends from Germany! It was slow in the beginning, but now I can talk to people. I learned the best lesson: Practice makes perfect.)
14. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
How do you know I don’t have superpowers?
15. What books are laying on your nightstand table?
No books. I’m more of an audiobook or podcast guy. I’m currently listening to The Liberator. It’s the story of the US Army’s 45th Infantry Division—the Thunderbirds. During World War II, this division was engaged in combat for more than 500 consecutive days. They invaded Southern Italy in 1943, moved to invade Southern France in 1944, and did not stop until they liberated Dachau Concentration Camp (in Germany) in the late spring of 1945. They are credited with the liberation of more people and the freeing of more occupied territory than any other army in history.
16. Who is your hero?
17. What piece of advice would you go back and tell your younger self who had just entered the workforce?
Follow your passion…it will take you far.
18. What sports team do you cheer on the loudest?
UTK Vols Basketball!
19. If you could meet one person, dead or alive, to grab coffee with, who would it be and why?
Louisa Gould. I’ll let the reader do the research to understand why. I would give her a hug.
20. What activities would you recommend to a tourist coming to visit Chattanooga?
Ride the Tennessee Valley Railroad. Eat at Café on the Corner. Take a walk through Chickamauga Battlefield on a late summer/early fall morning. Drive along Crest Drive on Missionary Ridge.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M) serves as the marketing assistant for the UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, she spends time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with CPE’s customer base. During her free time, you can find her getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, she aspires to live by Mr. Feeny’s advice, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” She strives to use her passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around her.
Connect with Marah on LinkedIn.