"Peggy McKinney approached me to purchase reverse raffle tickets for a Wilson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) event in 1999," Cathey Sweeney, this week's Woman of Wilson, remembered. "I learned about CASA through Peggy and Donna Farley. I always admired the dedication of those women to the children and families in Wilson County."
Fast-forward to present day, Sweeney is executive director for the organization, which provides trained volunteers who advocate in court for the stability and healthy development of abused and neglected children.
Sweeney was named executive director in December 2014, after having worked with Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee for over 13 years.
"I was ready to make a change. I heard that Laura Swanson, former executive director at CASA, was starting a new career at United Way. I hoped this would be my calling," she said. "The best part of this new position is knowing that children are in a safe, permanent home filled with lots of love and laughter."
Sweeney grew up in Davidson County. When she was 12 years old, her family moved to Marshall County. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University and went on to live in Chattanooga and Louisville, Kentucky.
"I never imagined living in Wilson County, and now I would never leave," she said. "Wilson County is home."
The draw to Wilson County began when Sweeney started dating her now-husband, Ken Sweeney. The couple met in 1981 at Erwin Enterprises in Nashville and happened to run into each other again in 1998 - which sparked a relationship.
"It was at a Cracker Barrel off Harding Place," Sweeney explained. "My husband and I were dating while I was living in Louisville. After months of a long distance relationship I moved to Lebanon because Ken was employed at Cracker Barrel."
The couple has been married 14 years.
In her spare time, Sweeney enjoys outside activities, including playing with her "wild Golden Doodle," planting flowers or walking.
She is a Charter Member of Wilson One and an Ambassador with the Lebanon/Wilson Chamber of Commerce.
Sweeney couldn't narrow down just one woman she admires.
"It would be hard to choose just one woman that I admire because there are so many wonderful women in Wilson County," she said. "However, I really do admire women that are active volunteers. It amazes me to see women that work full-time, raise children, manage a family and still manage to give back to this county."
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at email@example.com.