Julie K. Miller Executive Director, Columbia County Community Connections

P.Y.S.K.

Julie K. Miller Executive Director, Columbia County Community ConnectionsJulie K. Miller
Executive Director, Columbia County Community Connections

Number of years in position: 13 

Family: I have been married to Doug Miller for 39 years and we have three adult children, a wonderful daughter-in-law and four grandchildren we adore. 

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: As a child of adoption, it is my duty to give back. I have a particular set of skills that I can use to do good. I think I can contribute something of value, and I hope I can inspire others to help where they can. CCCC is a nonprofit working to make children safe, healthy, educated and prepared to become productive, civic-minded citizens, and I believe every child deserves a loving family and an opportunity to be educated. We need to teach every child compassion for others and how to live a purpose-driven life.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: Of course I am going to say CCCC, but also Hope House in Augusta because they do incredible work under difficult circumstances. We need to change how we view addiction in this country and stop criminalizing people who need help. I am a huge fan of the work that many churches are doing to feed the hungry and to shelter the homeless in our community. We are starting a new program to house homeless youth to help them finish high school and become self-sufficient. If anyone wants to host a homeless youth, give me a call. You might change a young person’s life. 

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: Not long after moving to Augusta for a career opportunity, I resigned from what I thought was going to be my dream job. Trying to find a position to replace the salary I had was impossible without leaving town, and I wasn’t going to uproot my family a second time. I was hurt, depressed, and I lost confidence in myself. Luckily, a friend recommended me for a job that paid half of what I had been making, and I was grateful to get it. That Christmas, my children asked me if we were poor. We had just enough money to get a $10 tree. Through that job, I met a woman who offered me a different kind of job, working in nonprofits. She mentored me and taught me how to design programs that help people move out of poverty and write grants to support that work. Eventually, that job led to the current position I hold. I will be forever in her debt for giving me a chance and investing in me.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Working with the mother of Ryan Clark to create a Scholarship and Community Service Award given to a local high school student for their volunteer efforts. The award is given annually in honor of the Lakeside High School graduate killed April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech. Ryan was an incredible young man who continues to inspire others to give selflessly. So far, $20,000 in scholarship funds have been awarded to 18 students. 

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: I love to shop for bargains. Finding a great pair of shoes or jeans for less than $20 is the best.

Favorite TV Shows: “Game of Thrones” and “House of Cards” – love them.

Favorite Movie: The Last of the Mohicans – the music and scenery is breathtaking. My favorite movie line is from Tombstone. When Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday says, “I’ll be your huckleberry,” it’s perfect.

Favorite Sports Team: The Kentucky Wildcats basketball team because this was my favorite uncle’s team, or whatever e-sports Halo team my youngest son is playing on.

Favorite Comfort Food: Pumpkin pie with a bucket of whipped cream – always gives me the hiccups, but I can eat a whole pie.

Favorite App: Amazon – who knew I needed a kaleidescope of color in my toilet as a night light so I won’t fall in. Amazon, that’s who.

Last Book Read: The Girl on the Train – the description of this woman’s descent into alcohol-fueled mental breakdown resonated with me. Trauma does terrible things to the human spirit.

Dream Vacation: I grew up on Greek and Roman mythology, and I would love to visit the places where those stories originated. 

Something That Has Changed My Life: Having children completely changed my outlook on life. I began to see the world through a more empathetic lens, and it made me determined to do better. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Hanging on to bitterness and resentment is like eating poison and expecting someone else to die.

Favorite Hobbies: I love to read suspense thrillers and play Texas Hold ’Em. I have taken up Pokemon Go, but I have yet to control a gym or hatch an egg so I’m not very good at it.

Secret Aspiration: I dream about creating a product that would improve the quality of life for billions of people. I would like to write a book as powerful as To Kill A Mockingbird. I also want to be the eccentric grandma that my grandkids adore – I have a realistic shot at this one. 

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: “World Series of Poker” – hands down (ha ha). 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: When I leave this world, I want to become a willow tree. When I see a cemetery, I imagine a tree-filled landscape. It makes more ecological sense. Why do we embalm people, put them in a fancy casket and then throw dirt over them? It seems like one of those traditions that no one knows why we do it, but we continue, because we always have. If you could be a tree, what tree would you be? 

What person do you think we should know? If you’d like to suggest someone we should meet, email editor@columbiacountymag.com and tell us why.