Occupation: Executive Director of the Downtown Maryville Association
When Shaun O’Malley saw the ad for a position as executive director of the Downtown Maryville Association, he knew it was something he wanted to do.
“I was interested and intrigued. I moved to Maryville when I was 7. I enjoy the community and what downtown has to offer. I want to make a difference in downtown.”
The 2007 Maryville College graduate. who also works part time at the school as a resident director, said several aspects of the executive director’s position interested him. “I know a lot of the job is communicating and working with local businesses and individuals to collaborate with one another. Fundraising is also a big part of it, as well as event planning,” he said. “I love planning events. The job just seemed like a perfect fit.”
The Downtown Association was active in the recent Highland Games. “We had a concert with a Celtic rock band in May in conjunction with the Highland Games as well as a parade of bagpipers in downtown,” he said. “We’re working on a benefit dinner this August, a wine tasting in November, and I want to do a program in October and set up a haunted house in downtown with a zombie prom.”
Although the Downtown Association has existed for several years, this is the first time it has had an executive director. He is spending a lot of time writing bylaws for the organization. “One of the first things I have to do is set up a structure,” he says. “We’re doing what we need to do to make this a viable, long-lasting organization,” he said.
Here is Shaun O’Malley:
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
“I think one of my favorite quotes from a movie comes from ‘Apt Pupil.’ The quote is: ‘All great achievements arose from dissatisfaction. It is the desire to do better, to dig deeper that propels a civilization to greatness. We are all responsible for the direction that our lives take and we can sit back and let life pass us by or we can jump in, grab the bull by the horns, so to speak and achieve what we want. We all have our own unique gifts, but it is really up to us to decide how we use them - for good or bad, for benefit or detriment.”’
What are you guilty of?
“Taking lots of pictures. When I say lots, that might be a bit of an understatement. In the past four years, I have taken over 750,000 pictures.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My camera. Sadly my camera just recently died, so I am currently looking for a new camera.”
What are you reading currently?
“‘The Journey,’ by Tony Blair, ‘The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President’ by Taylor Branch and ‘Decision Points’ by George Bush. I think reading about history through the eyes of historical figures who have to make tough decisions is fascinating.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“I was in the Boy Scouts, and I was canoeing down the Hiawassee River. There was this drop off that I clearly didn’t see, and I went over the falls with my canoe. I was thrown out of the canoe, and I floated down the rapid to where this nice, elderly couple was holding onto my canoe. They helped me back up into my canoe, and I thanked them and paddled away. A little while later I realized people were snickering at me, and I couldn’t figure out why. Later I realized that while floating down the rapids I had torn the back of my bathing suit, and I was exposed to the world.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
Travel the world; get my PhD in Higher Education/Student Development and serve as a dean or vice president of students at a small liberal arts college; create a leadership institute that works to teach our youth the importance of leadership and teaches them to be better prepared in taking on leadership roles.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“I think the word I hear most often is ‘awkward.’ I don’t mean like a social awkwardness, but I just do some really spontaneous, really random things.”
What is your passion?
“Making a difference in peoples lives and truly connecting with people.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“I am a big fan of Hillary Clinton. I think that when you look at the amount of time she has spent as a leader, giving back to our country, and all of the tough decisions she has had to make over her lifetime, she is a fascinating individual.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“The Revolutionary period. I think that the patriotism that existed during the Revolutionary era must have been overwhelming.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“Ghostbusters Proton Packs. ‘Ghostbusters’ was huge, and my mother shopped around at like 100 stores to find them for my brother, Tim, and I.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Both of my parents have given me a treasure trove of advice over the years but I think the biggest thing that they have given me in the way of advice is to never give up on your dreams.”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“My grandparents Margaret and Richard Thompson have been major influences in my life.”
Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?
“I do Facebook and Twitter. I think it is extremely important now days to have a strong web presence.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“I think all of the jobs that I have ever had have all had their frustrating moments, but they also have had their rewarding moments.”
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?
“I never would wake up early to watch cartoon’s on Saturday. Instead I preferred to stay up on Friday night and watch SNICK on Nickelodeon and I loved watching ‘Are you Afraid of the Dark.’”
What irritates you?
“When people just do not care about our history and current news and politics.”
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“Downtown Maryville is a very beautiful, historical area with lots of unique businesses and friendly residents.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“To always shoot for the stars and never forget who you are or where you came from.”
What is your greatest fear?
“I fear mediocrity and complacency. I think it is important to try to live up to your fullest potential.”
I still can’t quite get the hang of…
“How to dance the Dougie. I just got back from an excursion to New England and my friend Sarah Minard and her family tried to teach me how to a dance called the Dougie. and I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I guess I just wasn’t given the skills to dance.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, what would it be?
“Take a trip to Alaska. I have always wanted to visit Alaska and take in the beauty of that state.”