Anna Mullins has built dual careers around sharing the stories of the people and projects that are moving Memphis forward. By day, she serves as director of communications and public engagement for New Memphis, an incubator for talent and civic optimism. By night, she’s the managing editor for High Ground News, an online publication focusing on what’s next in Memphis. Anna’s work takes her behind the scenes with some of the most passionate and intelligent people in the city, from neighborhood organizers to entrepreneurs to public servants. “I’m constantly discovering communities — often unsung communities — of people who are transforming the city from the ground up,” she says. “It’s invigorating to share that excitement with our readers.” We at StyleBlueprint are so pleased to introduce this dynamic woman as today’s FACE of Memphis.
Describe your early career. Where did you work, and what were your jobs?
After graduate school, my first jump into the professional world was as the editor of a group of magazines at The Commercial Appeal. The most memorable was a women’s magazine called Skirt! The exclamation point was part of the title, so the punctuation is not just a reflection of my general excitement. I still come across local women I interviewed during that time, and it’s fun to get the “where are they now” stories. I also wrote wedding features and engagement announcements for The Commercial Appeal, but I would not punctuate that memory with an exclamation point.
Do you have a role model or mentor?
I am really impressionable, in the best way possible, and easily excited by ideas. Which basically means I’m the kind of person with many role models. But some mentors, to name a few, include: my close friend Grace Korzekwa has always been this shining example of a person who balances being silly and serious, someone who comfortably relies on the support of others while being strongly independent, someone who values personal growth while taking genuine joy in the growth and success of others. My friend Brad Watkins (who is also the director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center), who has the same heart for humanity and justice that I do, but who has the bravery, determination and selflessness to work for it every day. And also my parents, who continue to teach me about the depths of love.
What causes are you involved in, and why?
If you don’t know about the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center or the work they do, go to their website and you’ll want to be involved, too. They are doing some of the hardest – and most necessary – work in the city with the communities that need it the most.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Through some rigorous leadership training offered by New Memphis, I recently found out that I am almost (almost!) an introvert, which surprised even me and suddenly made me feel a lot better about all the time I want to spend at home.
What are your hobbies, and how do you unwind?
I have a few side projects that I guess could be called hobbies — helping to organize TEDxMemphis is currently taking up a good bit of free time — but from the outside they might look like work to the untrained eye. I run, often begrudgingly, which I guess falls into the hobby category, but could also, understandably, be considered work. To be honest, I don’t do anything intentional to unwind. Whenever possible I can be found catching up on “Game of Thrones” with my boyfriend, or watching “Nashville,” and drinking wine with my goofy friends, or playing ruthless board games and making dinner with my family. I realize these aren’t the admitted hobbies of a successful and put-together person, but there you have it.
What are your favorite places to travel?
Warm places, preferably with above-average beach access.
Any guilty pleasures?
Yes, many. See all content above regarding hobbies, and multiply that by 10.
Where’s the first place you take an out-of-towner when they come to visit you in Memphis?
When seasonally possible, the Levitt Shell.
Finish this sentence: If I had a superpower, it would be …
To read minds. Because I’m generally trying to figure out what you’re thinking most of the time anyway.
What inspires you?
Being around people, hearing their stories. I’m really motivated by stories of progress or struggle. Sometimes those are also the funniest stories, and I’m also really inspired by laughing. Right now I’m pretty wrapped up in Memphis’ story. If you were writing Memphis, The Novel, I think we might be at the epiphany moment.
What’s your best piece of advice for others?
Invest in your communities, big and small. It’s rewarding in more ways than one.
What are three lighthearted things you can’t live without?
I have four pets, but frankly, I could live without one of them.
Thanks to Micki Martin for the wonderful photos of Anna in downtown Memphis!
Want to meet even more amazing women who are making Memphis a great place to live? Click here to check out all of our FACES of Memphis.