Native by Chance, Returned by Choice: Paige Brown

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If you’ve lived in Gallatin for any length of time, you’ve heard of Paige Brown, our city’s mayor. What you may not know is that this ninth generation Gallatin resident wasn’t always thrilled about her hometown. “When I was growing up, I could see that there were no good career opportunities here unless you had a family business,” remembers Paige. “I couldn’t wait to get away. I wanted to make money and see the world.” And she did. After graduating early from Gallatin High School, Paige took her scholarships and headed south to Florida State University where she studied broadcast communications and dreamed of a career in TV news. She hosted Florida State’s weekly television show and joined the school’s collegiate circus, where she learned and performed aerial acts. Completing her degree in three years, Paige set out in pursuit of that broadcast news career, reporting and anchoring at TV stations in Tallahassee and Panama City. A few years later, encouraged by family members, Paige returned to Middle Tennessee to work for a production company that created shows for the Nashville Network. “I did so many fun jobs there, including the show Top Card and live spots for the show Nashville Now. What I loved most, though, was traveling across the country doing feature stories about people and places,” says Paige. “It was great fun.” A few years later, she took advantage of an opportunity to work for Nashville’s News channel 5 where she produced the popular Talk of the Town show and several other special projects. She spent eleven years at the station, eventually becoming executive producer. During that time, Paige lived close to—but not inside—Gallatin’s city limits.The final nudge came in April 2006. “I was producing Channel 5’s coverage of the tornado that devastated so many homes and businesses in the Gallatin area,” she remembers. “It was then that I realized that I didn’t want to work in television anymore. I just wanted to be home.” A few job applications later, Paige was tapped to lead the Gallatin Area Chamber of Commerce. Eight years later, voters chose her to serve as the city’s mayor. What does Paige have to say to young people thinking of leaving Gallatin? “If you want to explore other places, do it,” she advises. “If I hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have developed the deep appreciation I have for our community. The Gallatin I left behind all those years ago is vastly different than the Gallatin of today. There are really good jobs here and our quality of life is beyond compare. It took my leaving to really see what great texture and wonderful character our city has. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”