Inspired: Tracey Smith & Gena Weldon

Women Celebrating Women

The word inspire is defined as the act of filling someone with the urge or ability to do something, and here in Chattanooga, we have no shortage of incredible women who motivate those around them day in and day out. Whether they intentionally set out to be a role model or random acts of kindness are simply in their DNA, these women are making the world a better place. Read on to learn more about the individuals who encourage others to be the best version of themselves, told by those they inspired most.

Photography by Rich Smith

 

 

inspired: Tracey Smith

inspiration: Gena Weldon

 

In the short time I’ve known her, Gena, CEO of Chattanooga Goodwill Industries, has definitely been an inspiration to me. In the past 12 months, she has guided her nonprofit through truly daunting challenges: first, the pandemic, which resulted in store closures, catastrophic revenue losses, and painful staff layoffs; then the tornado that destroyed the East Brainerd store. Yet Gena was resilient and remained focused, with a clear vision of a better future. This culminated in April’s grand re-opening of the new flagship East Brainerd store. 

Gena has also experienced hardship and tragedy in her personal life, but instead of letting it defeat her, she turned things around and built a better life. Gena’s focus and strength have helped her push through her personal challenges and make the tough decisions that 2020 required of her. The past 13 months have tested all of us, but knowing Gena and her personal story and watching her turn professional challenges into successful outcomes have truly been a blessing and an inspiration to me. 

 

“Gena’s focus and strength have helped her push through her personal challenges and make the tough decisions that 2020 required of her.”