Today is Sunday, June 25, 2017

Woman of Wilson: Rhonda Manous

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Rhonda and Michael Manous have made a very positive mark on the Wilson County community.

Through Mike's company, Manous Design, they are responsible for renovating the Arcade on the Lebanon Square.

The couple met on spring break in Panama City Beach when they were college students attending the University of Tennessee in Rhonda's native Knoxville.

"My childhood best friend was in his fraternity, and we met while playing on the beach," she explained.

They have been married for 31 years.

Work brought the couple west to Wilson County.

"Mike and I both worked for an engineering company, Lockwood Greene. Mike was selected as the lead architect for the new Bridgestone facility in McMinnville. My position allowed me to work from anywhere, so we moved to Middle Tennessee," she said.

These days, Rhonda is executive director of the Autism Education and Therapy Center.

"We have the most awesome staff - mostly young adults who have devoted their lives to helping children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. I love watching families learn and benefit from the services we provide," she said. "I'm proud of how much we've grown, having more than doubled in size in 2016. I'm honored to work for two individuals, Karen and Steve Blake, who had the vision and the commitment to create this wonderful and caring organization."

In her spare time, Rhonda enjoys what she described as "golf, golf and more golf."

"And boating," she added. "I typically try to play early in the morning and then head out to Old Hickory Lake for a day in the sun with Mike and our awesome friends."

The couple has two adult children, Destin Manous, 22, and Derek Manous, 21.

A woman she admires is Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

"As I was growing up, I probably read her biography 10 times," she said. "She was an Olympic athlete in 1932. She opened so many doors for women's athletics as she achieved great success in golf, basketball, track and field."

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