Occupation: Vice president of resource development for United Way of Blount County
Family: Married to Jason Wackerhagen for 14 years. They have one daughter, Taylor, 6.
Jennifer Ingram Wackerhagen always knew what she wanted to be when she grew up - the next Katie Couric.
Wackerhagen, now Vice President of Resource Development for United Way of Blount County, changed those plans when she graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1997 with a degree in communications.
“No one wanted to hire me, because I had no experience,” she said. “Then I decided I wanted to stay here, so that kind of changed things for me.”
Just married and out of college, her first job was at Xerox where she was a sales manager. She then moved on to St. Mary’s Health and Fitness Center in Powell.
“I helped open it and was membership/marketing director,” says Jennifer. “I was there for a couple years before I came to United Way of Blount County in January of 2001.”
It was a return home for Wackerhagen, who grew up in Alcoa and graduated from Alcoa High School in 1993. It was while working in communications and marketing at United Way that she found out what she really enjoyed - working in the campaigns held each year to fund United Way and its agencies.
“I found I really had a love for the fundraising side. In 2006 I took on role of vice president of resource development, and I got to do more with the campaign and fundraising side,” she says. “A typical day for me during the campaign is to go to a company and do an employee presentation about United Way. That’s what I like about my job. I get to work with so many different people. I really enjoy that.”
Wackerhagen can now tell anyone all the ins-and-outs of what United Way of Blount County does for its member agencies and the community. That, however, wasn’t always true.
“Before I started working with United Way, I didn’t know a lot about it. I knew my dad (Joe Ingram) was pretty involved with United Way, but I didn’t know what United Way did until I actually started working here,” she said.
Wackerhagen said she visits agencies and sees first-hand how the dollars raised during United Way campaigns are used and the people who are helped. “Any contributions, big or small, make a huge difference. I see it everyday with our agencies, and the money that is given by our community and how much it truly does impact people and families right here,” she says.
Here is Jennifer Wackerhagen:
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
‘“You had me at hello’ from the movie ‘Jerry McGuire.’”
Who are you most like, your mother or your father and why?
“I’m most like my father, but look just like my mother. My dad is very generous and has a strong work ethic. I’m glad I took after him in many ways. People have often told me how much I look like my mom, so she can’t deny me.”
What are you guilty of?
“Not ever sitting down at home. I always have to be doing something. Laundry, straightening, cleaning, etc. There is always something to do and not enough time to do it in.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“I have two: my Blackberry and my MacBook. I’ve had my Blackberry for about a year, and I wonder what I ever did before I had it. My MacBook was a gift from my husband. I love iPhoto and making calendars and cards.”
What are you reading currently?
“I’m not reading anything right now. I’m not a big reader. I have good intentions and the book will sit on my nightstand for months, but I never pick it up - sad, but true.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“I’m sure my sister, Meredith Rigsby, husband, and best friend Michelle Knight would love to tell you about my most embarrassing moment. Let’s just say it had something to do with toe-touches and a trampoline. I’ll just leave it at that.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
“1. Travel to Italy 2. Run a Half-Marathon 3. See my daughter grow up and be happy.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Trustworthy. I think others feel that they can place their trust in me and that I’m dependable and reliable. I really try to be anyway.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I can take things too personally sometimes, and I don’t like that about myself.”
What is your passion?
“My daughter, Taylor Jo. She is a miracle and blessing from God, and I love her so very much.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My Mamaw and Papaw Fern and Jack Ingram. They both died this year, and I would like to have one more moment with them.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“I would like to visit the 50s. Things seemed so much simpler then.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“It would have to be my diamond ring. He done good.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Treat others as you would have them treat you.”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“My husband, Jason. We’ve been married almost 14 years and dated about five years before that. He has taught me a lot, loves me unconditionally and keeps me grounded.”
Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?
“I enjoy Facebook. I have re-connected with so many old friends. It’s fun to see what everyone is up to.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“I was a hostess at Chili’s for two days. I think I was a freshman or sophomore in college. I just didn’t like it, so I quit.”
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?
“Jem and The Holograms. She was a business woman by day and rock star by night. I loved her and had the dolls and everything.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“Stay in school and live at home for as long as possible.”
What is your greatest fear?
“Mustard. No, seriously, I have a phobia of mustard. I can’t stand to smell it, touch it or even be near it. I can’t remember what happened, but I must have had a bad experience with mustard. My mom said I would eat it as a kid.”