Behind Leadership: Alice Pearson Chapman

I have to say if Alice ever has the dinner of her dreams, I want to be there!  By the time it will have ended, I’ll be inspired beyond belief, intimidated from the secret service agent staring at me for hours and in pain from laughing so much.  You’ll understand when you’re done reading.

Any ways, Alice is a vice president at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville, Tenn., where she’s worked since 1995.  I don’t have any stats in front of me, but I have a feeling that type of longevity at a firm is rare.  I learned of Alice from Erin Mercer, a colleague of her’s at MP&F, who stumbled upon my blog.  (Thank you Google Reader.)

Erin recommended Alice as someone to possibly feature here.  By the time I was done reading, I was convinced she had to be the focus of the next Behind Leadership post.  And here we are today.  Enjoy!

What is the hardest part about being a leader?

Alice Pearson Chapman

I think it’s hard to make the transition to leader. It is true that some people are born to take on leadership roles, but most of us have to learn how to lead. It can be quite a shock to realize that you ARE a leader and that people are looking up to you and learning from your example.

What is the best part?

In my opinion, there is no better reward than watching those you lead become leaders.

Who leads you and how did they become a leader in your life?

MP&F’s senior partner, Mark McNeely, is a great leader (as are all of our partners). But Mark, in particular, started the company from scratch and has seen it grow to be the largest independent public relations firm in the state and one of the top 30 in the country. I’ve worked here for 16 years and am lucky to work with Mark on a number of projects. He and the other partners have taught me a great deal about how to lead.

What is your advice for those who want to lead?

First, find a good mentor. Everyone, no matter his or her level of experience, needs someone he or she can go to for advice or encouragement. Second, don’t wait for leadership opportunities to come to you. Seek them out. If this isn’t possible in an office setting, then volunteer with a community organization.

What books, websites or blogs on leadership do you recommend?

I like nonfiction and enjoy biographies. My favorites are “Personal History” by Katherine Graham, “An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy” by Robert Dallek and “The Children” by David Halberstam (a must-read for my fellow Nashvillians). 

If you had to choose between no longer being able to lead or losing those leaders you follow, which would you choose and why?

Life is full of disappointment and loss. Good leaders are flexible and can deal with the unexpected, be that losing a valued member of a team, or having to relinquish a leadership post. In short, play the hand you are dealt and move on.

If you could only invite 3 people over for dinner, who would you choose and why?

Martin Luther King, Jr. – He inspired a generation to make the world a better place.

Bill Clinton – Love him, or hate him he’s led a fascinating life.

Tina Fey – We’re both moms who work outside the home. I think we’d have a lot to talk about.


What books on leadership do you recommend?  Who would you invite over for dinner?

Chapman joined MP&F in 1995 as a staff associate and has since worked for a variety of clients at the local, regional and national levels. Her specialties include grassroots campaigns, media relations and event planning. From 2002 to 2005 she managed Metro Nashville’s recycling education campaign, which garnered MP&F the Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America. Chapman is actively involved in the Nashville community, having served as a board member of the women’s networking organization CABLE in 2005 and 2006. She received the Civic Outreach Award from that group in 2006. Chapman is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications.


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