Jennifer is the Content & Communications Manager for MATRIX. Her mission is to understand what information our communities want and need from MATRIX, and to deliver it in ways that are enlightening, engaging and in sync with who we are as a company. She loves pop culture, Oklahoma football, and the great state of Texas.
MATRIX Employee Spotlight: Mary Lou Evans
This month’s MATRIX Employee Spotlight is on Mary Lou Evans, a tenacious recruiter and arguably the most loved person in our Dallas office. Each of our 50 Dallas employees receives a voicemail on their birthday every year from Mary Lou, who writes a personalized song based on her coworkers’ passions and quirks to celebrate them. Her heart for others comes out in every aspect of her work and we are honored to have her on our team.
Tell me about yourself.
I was born and raised in Leavenworth, Kansas with my five sisters. After high school, I wanted to go into PR for the airlines. On the day I received my acceptance letter from an airline, I also received acceptance to tour with the international cast of Up With People (UWP). After making it through the singing and dancing auditions and an extensive rehearsal/training process, I toured with UWP for one year. After that, I worked in marketing at SeaWorld of Ohio before getting into recruiting. With the popularity of the movie, “Jaws,” a frozen great white shark was shipped in and displayed in a -4-degree glass display case and I was asked to go inside to model with it for media purposes. AP picked the photo up and it was advertised nationally.
What were your favorite experiences while touring with Up With People?
I loved getting to travel all around the United States, as well as Canada, Bermuda, Belgium, Italy, and Germany. I also met my husband while on tour – he was a bass player. He actually performed at the 1972 Olympics with UWP in Munich following the Munich massacre in which eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and a West German police officer were killed.
I think my favorite experience was when we hiked a mountain in Molokai, Hawaii and spent the day with the people in the leper colony there. Thousands of people in Hawaii living with leprosy had been exiled to this colony and left to die. Getting to talk to the people there was an incredibly humbling experience that I will never forget.
In addition to our two-hour musical show, we performed on radio and TV and in a national commercial for Expo ’74. We also performed in schools, prisons, hospitals, and factories and even performed in a brewery on a stage constructed of beer barrels in Belgium. Another great part of the tour was the celebrities I got to meet. I first met Bob Hope when he invited us to perform at Pebble Beach. Another time we performed for him in Palm Springs and I shared a dressing room with Charo. I got to meet Ginger Rogers, Glen Campbell, Vic Damone, Jack Benny, and Guy & Ralna from the Lawrence Welk Show that day as well. Willie Knowles (whose cousin is Beyoncé) was the emcee of our show and remains one of my close friends today. The most important thing I learned through my UWP experience is that music transcends everything. It didn’t matter what language you spoke or how “famous” you were – music brought us all together.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
I was in a car accident 27 years ago and in a coma for three weeks with post-traumatic amnesia for several months. I suffered traumatic brain injury and my husband was told I would need 24-hour care. Doctors encouraged my husband to put me in a nursing home because they didn’t think I would make it. Fortunately, my husband and 12-year-old daughter didn’t give up on me. I went to rehabilitation for years and had to completely start over - I had to re-learn how to walk, talk, write - everything. The doctors called me their “miracle” patient because of my unexpected recovery.
Today I walk four miles a day, six days a week to maintain my physical abilities. Working as a Recruiter definitely exercises my brain. Through years of adversity, I have learned from faith and perseverance, you can overcome more than you can imagine.
What are you most proud of?
Everything my family and I have accomplished despite years of obstacles. My daughter has a Ph.D. and works for Harvard Medical School part-time in addition to taking care of my three beautiful granddaughters. Several years ago I encouraged my husband to go back to school and follow his dream of becoming an RN. He is practicing at a hospital now and is my biggest inspiration.
I am so thankful for the challenging work I get to do at MATRIX because it keeps my mind sharp. The best part of recruiting is getting to help people. When I meet a candidate, I want to understand their family and their life in general. Then I can determine which opportunity to connect them to that will ultimately help them and their families grow.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone?
Follow your dreams – it’s never, ever too late.