Photo courtesy of Anna Nash.
Anna Nash talks with one of her Beacon Groups, a group that is geared toward helping inspire and guide its members. Nash is a 1983 graduate of Briarwood Christian School.
Anna Nash is at her best when she is working on a new project.
“Kind of a pattern for me is once it gets past the developmental stage and once it gets kind of mundane, I move on,” said Nash, a 1983 graduate of Briarwood Christian School who now works with a counseling ministry and as a business coach.
Since she graduated high school, Nash has started several small businesses in addition to side projects. She’ll admit her path has been far from traditional, but she also would not change it.
When Nash graduated from Briarwood, she studied early childhood education at Auburn University, but she left in her senior year and married her high school sweetheart. While she planned to go back to school, her husband was transferred, and her plans quickly changed.
“That took me on an unorthodox career path in that I never really got a degree, and I think if I had, in early childhood education, I’m not even sure I would have ever been a teacher,” Nash said.
She started a few businesses so her family could have that extra income, working with everything from party planning to photography to consignment clothes.
Through this non-traditional path, Nash learned the traditional “high school to college to graduate school or a job” is not for everyone.
“I don’t have regrets,” Nash said. “So many kids today feel like they have to fit in the mold, especially in the zip code of Briarwood. … My message to kids would not be to say, ‘Don’t go get a college degree,’ but that it’s not for everybody. I’m thrilled with my career path even though I never had that [a degree].”
Nash is currently working with Restore Ministries, a counseling service in Birmingham, and recently started her own project, Beacon People. Her path with Restore Ministries started after the economy crashed.
“We really had a do-over chance, completely, because we had been stripped of everything,” Nash said.
Nash started talking with a counselor at Restore, and that helped her to see past her earthly comforts, she said. After personally benefiting from Restore, Nash wanted to help it develop from an organic program to something that was more structured.
Nash is now director of public relations and publication development, and she works about 10 hours a week to spread the word about Restore.
“I love it because I got so much hope and help and healing, as we were going through that struggle, from the ministry that I love to be able to share,” she said. “If I believe in something, you’re going to hear about it.”
On the side, Nash started doing small business coaching. This came from her love of brainstorming, she said, and she worked to streamline processes and build up business tools for small businesses.
“It’s not really consulting,” Nash said. “It’s more inspiring and coaching, being on their team with marketing.”
The coaching developed into Beacon People after Nash realized what these small business owners had in common. Most people with whom she was connecting were purpose-driven, she said, and were using their gifts to make a difference in the world.
“I realized an hour with me could be so much more valued if they had an hour with 10 other women like them,” Nash said. “So I began to pull them together in groups, and we call them Beacon Groups.”
Unlike a typical business networking group, Nash said, Beacon Groups are aimed toward collaboration, encouragement and pulling each other up.
Since the first Beacon Group met in March, Nash has created a formal booklet, called pathFINDER, to help guide individuals.
“We go through this and hopefully put you on the trajectory of living your life for more,” Nash said.
During all of the bumps along her path, Nash said the foundations she received at Briarwood helped her persevere.
“The emotional care that I felt from kindergarten through 12th grade, I remember feeling very nurtured and accepted,” she said. “From a spiritual standpoint, the spiritual foundations throughout the waxing and wanings of my life … I know that that’s been anchored in me since childhood.”
As someone who enjoys moving from project to project, Nash said the future is uncertain. But for now, that uncertainty is what keeps her projects interesting.
“It always seems like this with something new, that ‘Oh, I could do this forever,’” Nash said. “This is very fresh and very rapid, and with the growth that I see, if it continues to grow at this rate, I see that it will be changing and developing. As long as it’s changing and developing, that’s my sweet spot.”