By Jamie Ballinger
I am an attorney running for State Senate in Tennessee. My inspiration comes from my grandmother and my mother. Whenever I think of my grandmother, it’s not her steely eyes or mischievous smile that first comes to my mind. It’s her hands: Large and knotted, they were made strong from wrapping bundles while working in a laundry, canning, carrying me, and playfully tossing me onto the bed when I was a little girl. Hers were the hands of a talented, hard-working woman. My mother and I learned about hard work from her.
I am proud to say that I am slowly and gratefully turning into my grandmother and my mother. All three of us have grit. My grandmother, who didn’t continue her education after middle school, made certain that my mother graduated from high school, and although college was not a possibility for them, my mother (and dad) made certain that I set my sights on college.
It was an honor to be a college student, but with that great opportunity came a lot of fear and a sense of not belonging. At times I felt like I was the only one charting a new family course, but of course that’s not the case. At the University of Tennessee, I set out to make the most of every opportunity, and I did. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and then went to the University of Tennessee for law school.
I have practiced law for 10 years, and at Baker Donelson, I represent diverse, small and large-business clients. Each challenge one faces teaches about self; where one can improve, and what one’s gifts are. And, of course, there are invaluable lessons we learn from failure.
These are some of the important lessons that I learned when I signed up for Emerge Tennessee; to hone my skills and to launch the strongest possible campaign. Running for office this year is a new challenge. It is also an honor. I love having the opportunity because it allows me to talk about people like my grandmother and my folks. It also enables me to advocate for more women at the table in our state government. Only 15% of our state government is female. We need more women in the room as we chart a course to help Tennessee families build a better life.
1221 Bowers Street #2225
Birmingham, Michigan 48012-2225