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PYSK: Johanna Cox-Littrell

Johanna Cox-Littrell, Executive Director, COLORS -- Columbia Locally Owned Retail & Services -- Owner, CreativeEnergi, a marketing, promotions and events company

JOB DESCRIPTION: I opened CreativeEnergi to help businesses grow and prosper. I manage events, create promotions and market businesses, products and services for companies large and small. For COLORS, I concentrate on growing our current membership and increasing visibility of our locally owned, independent businesses here in Boone County.

AGE: 33 YEARS LIVED IN COLUMBIA: 1 ORIGINAL HOMETOWN: Greenhill, R.I., Bayport, N.Y., and Seattle, Wash.

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in marketing from St Joseph’s College in New York.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: I have recently been appointed Race Chair for the 2010 Race for the Cure for the Susan G. Komen Mid-Missouri Affiliate. I am active with Calvary Episcopal Church and am on the steering committee of the Progressive Women of Mid-Missouri. I am also excited to increase my involvement in the Chamber of Commerce and Women’s Network.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I have been in the marketing and event marketing fields for over 15 years, much of which was spent as the event marketing manager for Wizards of the Coast, a hobby game division of Hasbro. Most recently, I was a brand manager at Briggs & Riley Travelware, a high-end luggage company based in Hauppauge, N.Y. My introduction to business began in high school, working in several independently owned retail stores on Long Island. I have done events at the Super Bowl and MLB All-star FanFest as well as fan events with Lucasfilm.

A COLUMBIA BUSINESSPERSON I ADMIRE AND WHY: Jennifer Perlow of PS: Gallery. I admire how she has balanced a successful career with family and community involvement.

WHY I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT MY JOB: Through years of visiting my husband’s family in Columbia, I have fallen in love with it. I want to see Columbia keep its sense of self. I love that we have myriad shops and businesses. I visit family back in New York and talk about the choice and quality of restaurants here, and they are amazed. For me to be able to help these independent businesses succeed is fantastic. Not only is it satisfying to help them, but I also become friends with all of my favorite business and restaurant owners. I get to tell my friends back home that I have a friend who was nominated for a James Beard Award. How cool is that?

IF I WEREN’T DOING THIS FOR A LIVING, I WOULD: …Have my own show on the Food Network. It would be called “Cooking with the Kids.” Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my sisters and me in the kitchen, cooking with my mom.

BIGGEST CAREER OBSTACLE I’VE OVERCOME AND HOW: Maintaining the balance between being a businesswoman and a mother. We moved to Columbia to accomplish that. Where else could I own my own business, be an executive director for an independent business association, be a full-time mother and work for an incredible charity near and dear to my heart, Susan G. Komen.

A FAVORITE RECENT PROJECT: Becoming the executive director at COLORS where I get to do what I do best. I act as a matchmaker. Sometimes I am matching several small businesses with an advertising outlet and creating a partnership that gives small businesses exposure. And sometimes it is matching an event in town with local businesses that complement it. Independents Week, which gave COLORS members exposure in more than five different media outlets, including CNNMoney.com, is a perfect example of this.

WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS PROFESSION: Most people might not realize that this profession is about helping people achieve their goals. Whether it is a widget maker looking to market and sell his or her wares or a restaurateur looking to fill his or her seats, I talk to people about what their dreams are and then help achieve them. I definitely work with a “Help me, Help you” type of attitude.

WHAT I DO FOR FUN: Anything with my family. I mostly love to cook; the larger the group the better! I also love camping, hiking, walking on the trail and just plain laughing with friends and family. Some of my favorite days involve walking downtown, getting a cup of coffee at Lakota, a pizza at Shakespeare’s, Sparky’s for dessert and maybe taking in a movie at Ragtag.

FAMILY: I am blessed with a wonderful husband of six years, Will Littrell, who is a Columbia native, and our gregarious children Katherine, 4, and Liam, 3. You can always spot our family walking around town by my kids’ curls bouncing as they gallop down the sidewalk.

FAVORITE PLACE IN COLUMBIA: This would be split between the two places I spend most of my time. Sometimes I think I moved here just for the trail. I love it! It’s the first place I take people when they come to visit, followed quickly by a trip to Jina Yoo’s for the best sushi ever. The other is my neighborhood. I adore the Grasslands. I have been welcomed into the Grasslands family and feel as if I have lived here for 20 plus years..

ACCOMPLISHMENT I’M MOST PROUD OF: Most definitely my family. My husband and children are involved in every aspect of my life. It is important to me that my children see me succeed not only as a mother but also as a business owner.

MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THAT: I Attended an all girls’ boarding school, Westover School in Middlebury, Conn. There I was introduced to the studio arts and developed a love of pottery. It has served me well in entertaining, as I now have my own handmade bowls to display hors d’oeuvres in. I am hoping to get my hands back in clay this year.

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