Mari Cockerell

Age: 38


Business: City of Abilene


Job title: Communications and Media Relations Director


Why are you working in this industry? To use my skills and experience to grow city communications in a way that promotes human connection, community engagement, and a shared commitment to civic service.


What are three daily habits that have helped you to become successful? I’ve come to love structure and planning (I know, I’m really pushing my ‘Under 40-ness’ with that admission!). This translates into taking time to plan or chart out each day the night prior (work/activities, meals, what to wear, etc.), getting up before the fam for a workout followed by some time for reflection/prayer, and bullet journaling combined with Google Calendaring my life.


Who is the person who most influenced you in business? She likely has no idea of this, but my aunt, Cecilia Alvarez Correa. While her professional and personal work include plenty of accomplishments to emulate, I most admire her integrity, authenticity, and generosity.


What is the best advice you have ever received? I was a couple weeks out from graduating from Vanderbilt and didn’t know whether to head to Syracuse for a master’s degree in journalism, or take a job as a one-man-band reporter in Montrose, Colorado paying an impressive $14,800 salary. I asked the assignment editor at my Nashville internship her opinion, and she said to take the job because in news, experience trumps education. I believe life-long learning is paramount, but her words have made for a valuable sounding board ever since. They also shaped the direction of my life, and saved me $60k.


Also, “get your mind right,” (courtesy of Bennie Wylie) and “do it right the first time” (courtesy of my dad) are two directives turned personal mantras that I consider invaluable advice.


What was the most significant hurdle you had to overcome to get where you are? How would you address this hurdle today? My biggest hurdle has probably been myself; focusing too much on what I thought would define success or bring professional satisfaction. Now I’m learning to work hard to grow and share the gifts I’ve been given and let the rest take care of itself.


What changes have you seen in Abilene during your career? What changes would you like to see? I feel like Abilene is learning how to embrace new ideas and vision without abandoning its core values and heritage. I’m excited for further investment in our city that improves the quality of life across the community, and redefines what folks expect from a not-so-small Texas town.


What was your first summer job? Grilling Philly steaks and frying fries at Charley’s Steakery inside Las Cruces, New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley Mall!


Describe yourself in one word. Genuine


Community Involvement:

  • Heavenly Rest Episcopal Church - member, Sunday school volunteer

  • Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau - board member

  • World’s Okayest Mom, Inc. - board member

  • Abilene Downtown Association - City Sidewalks day chair

  • Rotary International - provisional member

  • Day Nursery of Abilene - past board member

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters - past board member

  • Junior Achievement of Abilene - volunteer

  • Abilene Association of Realtors - past member

  • Abilene Dancing with the Stars - 2011 dancer

  • Leadership Abilene - volunteer, 2010 class member


Your family: Husband Chris, 7 year-old son, Cash, 4 year-old daughter, Cecilia, and a larger than anticipated Goldendoodle named Sunny.