Getting Personal: Vanessa Faurie
Each week, we offer an email Q&A with a local personality. Today, Paul Wood chats with 48-year-old Urbana resident Vanessa Faurie. She is the vice president of corporate communications at the University of Illinois Alumni Association and has been a communications and alumni relations professional in higher education advancement for 25 years.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
6:30 a.m. Brew the coffee, bring in/read the paper, feed and walk the dog, check email, see if my daughter needs anything before she leaves for school, eat breakfast, drink said coffee with my husband, get ready for work ...
What do you consider your greatest achievement or accomplishment?
It's a tossup between raising two wonderful, interesting, good-hearted daughters and surviving breast cancer. But I don't believe anything is accomplished singularly. My husband and I — and that village that raises kids — worked on the former; and an awesome team of Carle health care professionals, family and friends brought their A game on the latter.
What do you regard as your most treasured possession?
It feels odd to think about a possession, but in the spirit of the question, I'd say my mother's wedding ring. She died way too soon in 1999, and my father and sister wanted me to have it — which meant a great deal to me. When I take it out and look at it, it helps me recall a lot of wonderful memories.
Do you have a guilty pleasure and what is it?
Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series — Jamie and Claire (sigh)!
What book are you reading now? What is your favorite book ever?
Was in the midst of reading "Blind Your Ponies" by Stanley Gordon West, that is, until "Operations Management: Contemporary Concepts and Cases" and "Modern Business Statistics with Microsoft Office Excel." (After being out of the classroom for many years, I'm working on an MBA at the UI.) I also periodically pick up and read "Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America's Leaders" by Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.
Favorite book ever: "Wild Hands Toward the Sky" by my husband, Ray Elliott, because it was his first solo effort and I witnessed the labor of love it was in the writing of it.
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
I like to travel to different places for different reasons, but I'm always up for Ireland. It's fresh, beautiful, friendly, fun, a little sad below the surface, poetic, earnest, etc. It inspires me to want to walk a lot and then end the day in a friendly little pub with lots of character and characters.
Tell me about your favorite pet.
That wouldn't be fair to the others if I claimed to have a favorite. But our current, beloved family pet, Skipper, is a sneaky, sassy, cute and happy, blond cocker spaniel that doesn't realize he's 8 years old.
What's your favorite sports team?
I-L-L ... I-N-I! And my husband had a little something to do with my enjoyment of the St. Louis Cardinals.
What would you order for your last meal?
You know, if I knew it was my last meal, I don't think I'd be very hungry.
If you could be reincarnated after you die, what would you like to come back as?
A better me. Or, a future queen of England.
Who are your favorite musicians and why?
My favorite musicians are the young people who perform in our local school and community musical theater productions.
What's the happiest memory of your life?
A collection of moments marked in time when I've seen sheer happiness on the faces of those I care about.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite? What would you serve?
Nobody famous or anything — just an interesting combination of friends who like to engage in good conversation, are true to who they are and enjoy life. I love those times. I'd serve something I think they'd enjoy but easy enough that it doesn't get in the way of spending time together. Something on the grill or maybe Italian night, and a good bottle of wine. Hmm ... this is inspiring me to make some plans.
Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?
Any one of them who acted with courage, empathy, vision and integrity to make a difference for the better in the world.
What personality trait do you most hate in other people? Most hate in yourself?
In others: a refusal to communicate to get to a better place. In myself: this feeling that it's up to me to fix things or provide an answer that's not always what's needed. Also, I tend to interrupt people when I'm excited about something and eager to contribute but I'm working to fix that.
What's your best piece of advice?
Personal advice: Do the right thing — whether anyone else is around or not, and treat others as you would like to be treated. Professional advice: Follow your passion; measure twice and cut once; invest in your people.
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
Laying out ads at a small weekly paper for a bit more than minimum wage and "waitressing" at a Dunkin' Donuts for less than minimum wage, plus tips — only you don't get much in tips serving coffee and doughnuts.
What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?
When I applied for a job at the UI Alumni Association and got to interact with and share the stories of the amazing and diverse alumni who've attended the University of Illinois. I arrived at that decision when my future husband said, "Hey, look, there's a job open for an editor at the Alumni Association." A lot of good came from that.
Do you have any regrets in your life? What are they?
Misplaced trust and sometimes not having seen the forest for the trees.
How do you handle a stressful situation?
By coaching myself to breathe, focus and calmly visualize the actions needed to get to a successful outcome.