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Every day is a new adventure for G'Fellers-Mason

Robert Houk • Mar 30, 2020 at 8:13 AM

Anne G’Fellers-Mason is executive director of the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia in Jonesborough.

Born and raised in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee, she graduated from Mars Hill College with a bachelor of arts in theater and history. G’Fellers-Mason earned her master’s in history from East Tennessee State University, and a master’s in playwriting from Hollins University.

When she’s not preserving and sharing history, she writes plays and books. Her first full-length novel, “The Summer Between,” was published in 2018.

FAST FACTS

Dog or cat: “Both. I love animals, but I currently have four cats.”

Favorite book: “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Ideal getaway: “I'd love to visit a tropical location where you can see beneath you when you swim in the ocean.”

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR POSITION WITH THE HERITAGE ALLIANCE?

I am currently the executive director of the Heritage Alliance, but I started in 2008 as a graduate assistant. As executive director, it's my job to represent the organization and make sure we stay true to our mission with our programs, publications, exhibits and even our social media content.

I have a wonderful staff, board of trustees and volunteers, and they help me stay the course. Our work environment is truly a collaborative one.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE JOB?

I love that no two days are ever the same. That's the beauty of working for a small, history based non-profit, you're always busy doing a variety of things.

One day I'm working on the budget, but the next I'm leading a group of students through the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum or planning an exhibit for one of our museums.

Then there are the days when a person walks through our office door with an amazing piece of history that they'd like to donate to our museums and archives. Those are some of my favorite days.

WHERE ARE YOUR FAVORITE HISTORIC SPOTS IN THE REGION?

I'm very partial to the Chester Inn, but I also love Tipton-Haynes and Rocky Mount. There's also Sabine Hill in Elizabethton. If you have not had a chance to tour that beautiful home yet, do so. This area is full of history. It's everywhere you look, so make sure you take advantage of it.

HOW DO YOU COPE WITH STRESS AT WORK?

I listen to music a lot, and I laugh. My coworkers are super dedicated, but they are also super funny. Then I go home to my cats, and that helps, too. Above all, I try to remind myself of the end goal and what our mission is.

If I can keep that in sight, the stress is more manageable. And it's perfectly fine to ask for help from your board, staff and volunteers when you need it.

WHAT'S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

To take risks, but with the caveat that you stay true to yourself while doing it. Our previous executive director really mentored me and allowed me to explore my talents and branch out into museum theater.

It was a risk for the organization for sure, but she had faith that I could pull it off. Now museum theater is a big part of what we do. Every show comes with its own share of risk and reward.