Both Kelly and Matt are in the insurance business – Matt’s grandfather started Swallows Insurance in Cookeville over 50 years ago – and they met on a business trip to the big island of Hawaii. Kelly was working for an insurance agency in Charlotte, NC, at the time.
Several months after the trip, they began dating long distance. Matt proposed in January, 2007 and they were married that September at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.
Originally from Lancaster, Pa, Kelly loves living in Cookeville.
“I would never go back north,” said Kelly. “People are friendlier here, more laid-back. in a smaller community, we have more of a chance to make a positive impact.”
And make an impact they do! Aside from working at the insurance agency, both are heavily engaged in their community. In 2010, matt became Cookeville’s mayor.
“Being mayor gives me the chance to give back and serve the community,” said Matt. “I was born and raised here - what better way to give back and make a difference than to represent the place that you love?”
Both Kelly and Matt support any and all animal events, local charities like the Mustard Seed Ranch, Child Advocacy Center and Leisure Services events for the whole family.
A certified fitness instructor working part-time for Cookeville Leisure Services, Kelly was also the race director for the first live Green Tennessee 5K held on June 23. When Becky Magura approached her to help organize the inaugural race, Kelly, who serves on WCTE’s advisory board, agreed.
Kelly smiled. “You don’t say no to Becky, and if I weren’t in insurance, I would be an event planner. I love organizing and delegating. I also love fitness and promoting fitness. The live Green Tennessee 5K is for a good cause and that is definitely in my wheelhouse.”
What programs do they enjoy on WCTE? When they can find the time, matt enjoys Ken burns shows like Prohibition, and is a sponge when it comes to soaking up PBS documentaries. He is also addicted to WCTE’s Great TV Auction in which he participates every year. Matt introduced Kelly to the charms of WCTE and the Auction when she moved here in 2007.
“I just like it,” said Matt. “For 8 nights, the Great TV Auction is a running commercial for the Upper Cumberland. Businesses are promoted that you might not ordinarily find. It’s great exposure.”
“What makes the community and the Upper Cumberland a great place to live is community involvement,” said Kelly. “The more people that are involved in the community, the stronger that community. WCTE is involved in the community and that adds to the quality of life.”
Congratulations to Kelly and Matt! Their second baby is due on July 4, giving Channing Riley, born in 2010, a baby brother or sister.
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