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Feb 15, 2021

Q&A with Gracelyn Woods—our new COO!

We’re thrilled to introduce Gracelyn Woods (she/her) as the newest member of our Bellweather team! She joins our senior leadership team as Chief Operating Officer, based out of our New York City office. To get started, we thought we would have some fun with a couple of rounds of question and answer:

On her most recent role as Production Supervisor at the legendary Apollo Theater:

Wow, the Apollo Theater—what was that like? 

Working at the Apollo was intense! Imagine one Top 40 artist walking into your house every other day asking you to put on a concert in your backyard, at the same time you’re trying to host your in-laws for Thanksgiving! The Apollo is known for its big-budget concerts, but they are a non-profit organization that is in service to educate and provide services for the community. The budgets could be wildly different from project to project but we always gave the same level of service. 

Was there something you worked on at the Apollo that you’re particularly proud of? 

I am extremely proud of the large concerts I put on for Sirius Radio and Live Nation. Multimillion-dollar budgets are exciting to watch come alive! I am most proud of negotiating the collective bargaining agreement with the stagehands Local 1 Union. A considerable amount of research and forecasting goes on when proposing rate changes and making amendments to work rules. You’re trying to keep your stagehands in great mental and physical standing without jeopardizing a functional and realistic budgeting tool for your clients. 

On travel and where she calls home:

The future of the travel and tourism industry has been undeniably shaped by the pandemic—what is the most interesting trend you think will take off in the industry post-COVID? 

I think you’re going to see longer stays for vacations and business trips. The ability to work remotely has given many access to location flexibility. 

When planning a trip, what types of experiences do you look for/seek out? 

Food, nature, and culture are my top three. I try to switch between nature and culture every other day to keep the itinerary at a casual pace. Food every day all day if possible. 

You grew up in the Pacific Northwest and now live on the East Coast. What brought you to switch coasts? 

I decided to bounce back and forth because I found that the work culture in both places was so drastically different, and I wanted to have as much experience in several different markets as possible. When it was time to settle down, I found that my passion for the people and places of New York still had a hold on me. 

You moved to Beacon, NY from NYC last year. Do you have any recommendations for someone visiting—or perhaps considering moving to—the Beacon area? 

Beacon and the surrounding towns in Dutchess County are full of arts, food, and music. For folks looking to move, I recommend joining the local CSA for fresh organic produce that you can pick yourself! For the weekenders, take a hike up Beacon Mountain to get a beautiful view of the Hudson River. After your hike, hit Main Street for some food and drink at the local Arcade Bar!

On leadership:

Is there any past advice about leadership you’ve received that has stuck with you? 

One of my mentors always said: “respect, access, and patience for all.”

It is important for staff and clients to feel that they have access to you as a leader and that their thoughts and opinions will be heard and respected. I believe that those tenets, along with great operating systems, will increase productivity and profits, as well as boost the overall health of a business. 

What makes a successful leader in your eyes? How do you define a leader?

I believe a successful leader places priority on respect and trust just as much as profit gain. I define a leader as someone who motivates and acts as a navigator through complex systems.

Speed round!

Go-to takeout order: Indian

Favorite book you read in the past year: How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong

You can always ask me about: The best TV and movies to watch for any genre

Three favorite Instagram accounts:

  • @ottolenghi – The best recipes and pictures—I can only dream of being able to recreate them!  
  • @mutualaidbeaconny – A local charity that organizes volunteers, food donations and many other resources to uplift the community by showing support for our neighbors.
  • @solidstarts – Incredible team of diverse food and feeding experts creating a database of the best foods for babies.

Coffee or tea: Coffee ☕️

Things you do every day: Meditate, a dance party with my daughter, drink lots of water

And, finally, we have to ask:

Why Bellweather? 

I joined Bellweather because I was looking for an inclusive and creative team always looking to innovate. As a female minority, I was elated to join a company that is women- and minority-owned—a dream of mine since I first started working. Plus, the idea of bringing experiences to people has been a passion of mine throughout the years. Being able to do that under the inclusive and extremely talented umbrella that is Bellweather is the perfect scenario for me. 

It’s a perfect scenario for us too—welcome Gracelyn! We can’t wait to move into our sixth year with you, Emily, and Louis at the helm.