Evetty Satterfield, 33, CEO, Advancing Lives LLC
At some point in the future, Evetty Satterfield hopes to be a superintendent of a school system. In the meantime, she's training education, nonprofit and business leaders on improving their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
She challenges people to think critically and isn't afraid to facilitate tough conversations with her peers on the Knox County Board of Education. She is a proud graduate of Austin-East Magnet High and aims to be a champion for Black children.
When you reflect on your career so far, which achievement stands out most?
In March 2020, I took a leap of faith and trusted my ability to start a consulting firm —Advancing Lives LLC. I’m still in awe that I launched and obtained my first contract at the height of the pandemic! God is good!
What is the greatest professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
When I returned to Knoxville in 2016, it was difficult to find my professional footing. I returned to my hometown with a ton of experience and limited professional opportunities locally. I spent roughly three years trying to find the best fit for my talents. It was a humbling time which made me reflect on not tying my worth to my career.
What will you focus on in 2022?
Professionally, 2022 will be the year of scaling Advancing Lives LLC. I plan on signing multi-year contracts, which will allow me to hire a few contracted employees. On the personal side, I plan on spending more time with my friends who are out of state. Many of them have expanded their families, and I would like to meet my new nieces and nephews, in person!
What is your biggest professional goal?
My biggest goal is to obtain my doctorate in education and become a superintendent of a school system. Then, if I like that, I will explore education commissioner opportunities and maybe even serve as the U.S. Secretary of Education one day! Who knows!
What mistake did you learn the most from?
I support a 6-week summer enrichment program. At this program, we refer to our students as scholars. One morning, a kindergarten student raised their hand and asked, “What is a scholar?” Of course, they asked this question in the middle of a chaotic time.
My quick response was, “it’s you,” and I moved on to completing tasks. It wasn’t until later that I realized I allowed my “busyness” to get in the way of a teachable moment. I think about that moment when I find myself getting overwhelmed and consumed by the busyness. It’s a great reminder to slow down.
What motivates you?
Life motivates me! I am motivated by seeing what I can accomplish in my profession, how much of the world I can explore, and how many impactful relationships I can build over my lifetime.
What is the most overrated piece of business advice you’ve heard?
“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s untrue for me. I love what I do and my life; however, it is very much still work!
What trait do you most want in a co-worker?
I bond the most with co-workers who can easily laugh at any and everything! That feels like a fun work environment.
What about Knoxville would you like to improve?
How much room do I have? Just kidding! Knoxville has so much potential. I honestly feel like we are at a crossroads.
One route is to keep Knoxville a big small town or take a new path and create a city that is welcoming to people who are not “from around here,” a city that attracts more extensive and more diverse events, a city that operates as one community. I believe the small-town mindset is holding Knoxville back from being all that we can be.
Who in Knoxville is underappreciated?
Tamaine Jones, he is my trainer and the owner of AMJ Fitness. Our fitness community truly appreciates what he does; he ensures we are healthy, fit, and always looking good! Tamaine Jones should be internationally known!
Family: Evelyn Fortson, grandmother; Betty Satterfield, grandmother; Joslyn Johnson-Forston, mother; Hurley Satterfield, late father; Londen Satterfield, nephew
Years worked at current company: 2
Degrees and certifications: Bachelor's in collaborative teaching, Alabama A&M University; master's in social work, Washington University in St. Louis; Social Entrepreneurship and Management Certification; Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Certification, University of South Florida
Community involvement: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. member, Alpha Pi Omega chapter; District One representative and vice chair, Knox County Board of Education; East Tennessee Freedom Schools co-founder; Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance mentor; YWCA board member
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
— Isabel Lohman
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Knoxville 40 Under 40: Evetty Satterfield, Knox County Schools