PHOTO: Leigh Bawcom has lived in Franklin most of her life; here, she stands outside the Coffee House at Second and Bridge./Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
While the Williamson County business community may know Leigh Bawcom as the director of member engagement for Williamson, Inc., she stays busy by running an events company on the side.
Born in New Jersey, Bawcom’s parents moved her and five siblings to Franklin when she was four years old.
“But we are Southerners,” she chuckled, pointing out how her parents met when her father tutored her mother in math at the University of Alabama.
Her parents moved them to Williamson County for the high-achieving schools, Bawcom said.
A graduate of Franklin High School, Bawcom has a unique perspective on the driving forces behind the county’s explosive growth.
When she was in middle school, the General Motors Saturn plant opened in Spring Hill, bringing thousands of jobs to the region over time.
Then, her senior year of high school, the CoolSprings Galleria Mall opened. “That’s when I think we started to see a lot of the growth here,” Bawcom said.
“I like the growth,” she whispered, almost conspiratorially. “I like having places to shop and places to eat and things to do, and not always having to go to Nashville for it. I still think it has a small-town feel.”
She noted how people who haven’t been here as long see Franklin residents as friendly and hospitable.
“That’s the way I want it to stay, because that’s the Franklin that I remember from growing up.”
Bawcom attended Belmont University on a dean’s scholarship, switching majors from political science to French and minoring in history.
She worked in marketing and sales for Tom A Promotions, for BancorpSouth, then served as special events coordinator for the Battle of Franklin Trust at Carnton from 2010 to 2014.
Robert Hicks’ book “Widow of the South” drew many people to the Civil War plantation, she said, and helped spur on the historic preservation movement.
While working at Carnton, Bawcom’s passion for detail bubbled to the surface, and she started thinking about events.
A bride who had begun planning a wedding at Carnton asked Bawcom to organize it after she left her post there, giving her the perfect push into launching an events business part time.
In fact, Bawcom was the one who originally came up with the idea to host the Battle of Franklin Trust’s Bootlegger’s Bash years before it became a reality.
For Leigh Bawcom Events, she will have hosted 14 celebrations by the end of the year, often weddings, with the help of two part-time staffers.
Bawcom is also on the preferred vendor list for venues like Arrington Vineyards and Long Hollow Gardens in Gallatin.
After a stint as development director at Bridges Domestic Violence Center, Bawcom settled into her current job as director of member engagement at Williamson, Inc last December. She manages over 100 volunteers for committees like young professionals, Nolensville, and women in business.
“I feel like every job I have has been a building block to the next, but yet, it’s been very different in a lot of ways from the previous job,” she said.
Advice for passion projects
“Don’t limit yourself, always go after what you want, what you’re interested in,” Bawcom said.
She also encourages professionals to mix and mingle in the community to increase opportunities for success.
“There’s a lot of value in serving on a committee or serving on a board, because you just never know who you might meet that might be helpful to you, and you to them,” she said.
Finding balance between her job at Williamson, Inc. and her events company is key.
“Anything I agree to do, I want to do really well. Because my name is connected to that, and my name is my integrity,” Bawcom said.
“It’s important to me that I don’t falter in some way in my full-time job, my part time job, or anything that I’ve agreed to be a part of,” she finished.
Bawcom’s personal favorites
University of Alabama: “I’m a big Alabama football fan, not bandwagon, lifelong,” she said. Though her brother teased her about attending Belmont, she said the school’s lack of a football program made it easy for her: “I didn’t have to change my allegiance.”
Arrington Vineyards: One of Bawcom’s favorite wedding spots, this vineyard and events space reminds her of growing up in the country. “I enjoy the quiet and the peace of being a little further out.”
Favorite boutique: Southern Roots Fashion just opened at Jamison Station across from the Factory, and Bawcom said it’s quickly won her over. “I bought several things there, I think they have great prices and great selection.” She also likes Silver Steer & Co. in Cool Springs, a home decor and gift shop with affordable prices.
How to spend a Friday night: “After a busy week, I don’t mind being at home on a Friday night,” she admitted, watching TV or playing Words with Friends. Or, on a nice night, Bawcom loves to spend time outside on the patio at Chuy’s.