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Five questions with Executive Director Cheryl Oglesby-Townes


Cheryl Oglesby-Townes was recently appointed as executive director of the Northwest Tennessee Economic Development Council. Her 30-year anniversary with the agency coincides with the birthday of Head Start. She began as an administrative assistant for the agency’s Head Start director and has held various positions, including human resources coordinator, Title VI administrator, and interim Head Start/Early Head Start director, among others. Learn more about Cheryl in this Five Questions feature.


What is the most requested service from the clients that your agency serves?

Of all the services, we provide, I would think the most requested service based on the dollars spent is in the area of energy assistance through our LIHEAP Program. Additionally, we provide services through the CSBG Program, Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, as well as the Head Start/Early Head Start program.


What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

Most are surprised when I say I have been employed with Northwest for 30 years. I’m also a 22-year kidney cancer survivor.


Who inspires you and why?

Truly my inspiration comes from God, as I have a very strong faith. When I think about things I have faced and made it through, I know it was only God and I truly trust him in all things!


If you could change one thing about the fight against poverty (or the work that you do) with a snap of your fingers, what would that be?

I would have more unrestricted funding to ensure we can help our own employees, pay more equitable wages, and provide more services for those within our communities.


What were your early career aspirations growing up?

I always thought I wanted to be a teacher. At some point that changed to my aspiration to be in a business setting for some large corporation.

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