Brevardian of the Week: Jaime Lynn Laughter!

Jaime Laughter

Jaime Laughter

Children:  Bella, 9 and Mady, 5

Place of employment: I am the County Manager for Transylvania County

Where did you grow up?  Just over the county line in Etowah.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?  I test as an introvert!  I enjoy getting to know people and find hearing where different people are coming from fascinating, but I always need my downtime alone or with my family to recharge.  My dad always tested that way too, but was a public official as well.  He said we are introverts adapting to an extroverted world.

Jaime with family: Geoff, Bella & Mady

Jaime with family: Geoff, Bella & Mady

When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your free time? My time outside work is spent with my family.  We love to hike, fish, swim, hang out together at home… any time spent with Geoff and the kids is special even when we have nothing particular planned.  I’ve grown up trout fishing so occasionally some time in the middle of the river is needed to unwind.

Click here to read the rest of Jaime’s profile

What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever gotten? (and/or worst advice you’ve ever gotten?)  My dad instilled in me to treat others with respect and always to look for common ground.  It has shaped how I approach my public service career.   The worst advice was that I shouldn’t be a manager because I care too much about people.  I don’t think you get the best out of people if you don’t care about them first even when the decision at hand isn’t an easy one.

What are some items on your bucket list? I want to sky dive someday, but that’s on hold as long as I’m raising my children.  I’ve always wanted to learn to fly.  Overall, I want to watch my children turn into great citizens and have a career that makes people’s lives better in the end.  If I accomplish those two things, I will consider my life well lived.

Ever had a brush with a celebrity?  When I was a teenager I was in Chicago for a National Scholastic Journalism competition and we were eating at Planet Hollywood.   I came out of the bathroom and all of a sudden there was a wave of people around me.  I turned around trying to get out of the crowd and was nose to chest with Muhammad Ali.  I felt tiny!

Mady's preschool graduation!

… at Mady’s preschool graduation!

What are you most proud of in your life?  I feel like so far I’ve made a difference with my career and that is huge for me, but I have to say I’m most proud of my daughters.  Being their mother has been a humbling and joyful experience and it makes me look forward to each day.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  First I wanted to be a pilot, but by high school I had seen a documentary on a missionary in another country that made artificial prosthetics for village people who had been injured by old land mines from previous wars.  I was inspired that he was able to help these people in poverty be able to function by providing basic prosthetics.  When I started at NC State, I was majoring in Biomedical Engineering and wanted to focus on artificial prosthetics with the intend to use it as a missionary at some point.

What is the best practical joke you ever played on someone?  I love to scare my family and friends so I’m always hiding in closets or around the corner to jump out.   It never occurred to me that I could get hurt until I hired an administrative assistant who was also a black belt.  I came around a corner and startled her and when I saw how fast she reacted I was way more careful not to startle her!

What’s one thing you did as a child you hope your kids never do?  I had awful self-image growing up.  I hope my daughters bypass that completely because it kept me from enjoying life to the fullest.

Your biggest pet peeve:  I am pretty easy going, but I have to say whining irritates me to no end.

What did your father do for a living?  He was the inspections director for Henderson County for 30 years and retired from there.

Do you have brothers/sisters?  I have two brothers.  Trevor is five years older than me and lives in Washington State and Colby is five years younger and lives in Nashville, TN. Both are married with kids.

What kind of music do you like to listen to today?  I listen to a wide range of music.  My ipod is a little schizophrenic because it covers a lot of different genres.

What’s your favorite holiday of the year?  Christmas!  I love the coziness of being inside where it is warm with good food and family.

Have you ever seen a UFO? Everything is a UFO unless I have contacts or glasses on.

Do you believe in ghosts? I believe there are many things only God understands and I’m OK with that.

What do you hope your children will remember most about you as a mother?  I hope they always know I loved them every moment they were on this earth and even before they got here.  They have blessed me and changed me in ways I never anticipated.

How did you come up with your child(ren)’s first name(s)? Bella is Zorabella and she is named after my great grandmother.  Mady is Madeline and she is named after the French book I read when I was little.  They both have flower middle names.

What’s the naughtiest thing you did as a child? I did awful stuff to my older brother’s toothbrush when I was mad at him as a kid.  Shhhhh… I never got caught.

What was the last home-cooked meal you made?  Last night we had spaghetti with meat sauce and zucchini and salad.  I love to cook so most nights we have a home-cooked meal.  When I’m on a baking spree it means I’m stressed!

Any favorite recipes to share?  I just experimented with roasting sugar dumpling squash in the oven then filling it with pork sausage, diced apples and toasting feta cheese on top.   It turned out great!  My kids love my chicken noodle soup that doesn’t have noodles and instead has spaghetti squash.

What advice would you give other working moms trying to balance job and family?  I spent a lot of time at first trying to compartmentalize the two roles.  That went out the window when I had my second daughter.  We only had four staff in the office and my administrative assistant was leaving for a job that was an advancement for her.  Her last day was Friday and I went into labor that night.  Mady was born Saturday morning and we were in church on Sunday and at the office Monday morning getting ads out to get someone hired.  I stood at a copier with her in one arm and getting the hiring rolling with the other.  That is an extreme case, but I have to say I felt very balanced in that moment and capable of attending to the needs of my baby and my staff.  My advice now is to embrace who you are.  I’m a little bit manager at home and I’m a little bit mama at work.  It is always a balancing act to do both well, but I try to make it safe for family or work associates to give me feedback.

What’s your favorite “de-stress” technique? Baking and exercise which often goes to cross purposes.

What are your dreams for the coming year?  The next 5 years? I want to be of value to Transylvania County and the citizens here.  I want to contribute in a meaningful way and help the kids complete the adjustment to the new school.

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