Abbi Whitaker, the Truckee Meadows Community College 2017 Alumna of the Year, showed up to the Joe Crowley Student Union less than an hour before she had to report to the robing room for TMCC’s Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 12. Whitaker was thrilled to sit and chat about her life, her role at The Abbi Agency, and how she finds work-life balance (spoiler alert: she doesn’t, and sometimes her two kids, Ever and Eden, get breakfast from 7-Eleven).
Born in England, Whitaker moved to the tiny town of Fallon, Nevada when she was only 13 years old. She managed to graduate from high school, but felt lost after that. She attended Western Nevada College (WNC) for a little while, and took some time off before finding her way to TMCC and a Journalism 101 class with instructor Mike Carrigan, who was instrumental in Abbi’s decision to go into journalism.
Abbi went on to attend TMCC for three years, earning enough credits to obtain an Associate of Arts degree, before transferring to the University of Nevada, Reno, where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism in 2004. While at TMCC, she wrote for The Echo and at UNR, she was the arts and entertainment editor of The Sagebrush. While at UNR, she realized print journalism wasn’t for her and switched her focus to public relations, which led to the founding of The Abbi Agency, a thriving local PR company with offices in Reno, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York City.
There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle that had to be brought together to start The Abbi Agency, though.
“You have to believe you can do it,” Whitaker said. “Know it’s okay to fail, be willing to wear ten different hats.” Flexibility is also important, as is “realizing you can’t have it all.” She believes you have to “embrace the life you’re living.”
Whitaker prides herself on giving back to the community, personally and professionally. Personally, she serves on a number of organizational boards around town, including EDAWN, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Nevada Women’s Fund. She’s also very politically active, and makes it a point to meet with everyone who asks for a meeting. Professionally, The Abbi Agency sponsors a number of programs each year, from a scholarship at UNR to the Midtown Art Walk and much more. The Agency also recently did the Chamber of Commerce’s new logo and marketing, pro bono. All told, they try to do $100,000 worth of pro bono work per year.
In her role as Alumna of the Year for TMCC, an award she is “truly humbled and honored to receive,” Whitaker plans to sponsor a scholarship for a non-traditional student. She wants to remind students that “even if you’re not able to go to a four-year school right away, even if the odds are against you, if you’re willing to work for it, you can accomplish anything.”
As a busy business owner, wife, and mom of two little ones, finding work-life balance can be a struggle for Whitaker. Sometimes, she notes, you “have to miss things” in order to get other things done. All you can do is your best and give yourself grace. She summed it all up with this: “Make use of every little moment you can.”