5 Questions

5 questions with Denise Dowdy

What is the most rewarding part of your work with the American Cancer Society?

Hands down, it's working with the volunteers. The American Cancer Society is a volunteer-based organization, therefore the majority of the work is executed by the volunteers. October will be 17 years that I've worked for the American Cancer Society, and I have been privileged and honored to work with some of best people -- unselfish, passionate and dedicated. Working with such giving people, has not only aided me in my professional life, but also in my personal life. I've grown and developed, by watching and learning from some of the best leaders in our community. I am honored and humbled to work with the American Cancer Society volunteers and want to say thank you to all of you who have given your time and talents to this organization.

How has cancer touched your life?

I've had many family members and friends who have been diagnosed with cancer, however, three years ago when my mother was diagnosed is when it really hit home. Fortunately, mother's melanoma was detected early and with a surgery, she was cancer free. However, hearing a diagnosis of a loved one never seems to be rid of the shock factor. Cancer is so ugly and we never know how it's going to "attach" to someone's life, so it's scary!

Years ago you worked for two Columbus mayors, Mayor Martin and Mayor Peters. Do you miss working in that setting?

Absolutely not! It was a great learning experience and I made a lot of wonderful contacts that I am still able to use in my profession today. However, being able to work in a more creative environment is definitely more compatible with my personality.

How has Columbus changed over the years?

For me, having been in the mayor's office when Frank Martin began the transformation of Uptown was a blessing. I was able to see the passion he had for making great strides in downtown Columbus. There's rarely a time when I'm walking on the Riverwalk that I don't mention his name and it puts a smile on my face. He started a great movement in Columbus, and it changed downtown for many years to come.

What is the best kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?

I'm not sure that it's a secret, but I'm continually surprised that people in the Valley don't realize that the Miss Georgia Scholarship Pageant has always been held in Columbus. Every summer we host young ladies from all over the State of Georgia, who are extremely intelligent, talented and extraordinarily well-spoken.

There are three nights of on-stage competition at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts and each year, tickets are always still available. We basically have a real reality show in our backyard and this community doesn't seem the know it's here. I promise, it's worth the price of admission. The Miss America Scholarship pageant is the largest provider of scholarship assistance in the nation.