Kevin Love, 30, director of operations for TechTown, has always been ahead of the curve. It's in his DNA.
As a teenager growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, Love organized summer dance parties at a local skating rink that drew hundreds of kids. The proceeds provided him with status and spending money, he says.
"Every Tuesday for three summers I did that," he says, recalling that he started the side-job at the tender age of 15. "I built a reputation. It was nice to be in high school and have some money to spend on clothes and cars."
Now, 15 years later, as the operations director of TechTown, a youth-oriented technology and entrepreneurial learning center, Love is still using some of those same entrepreneurial chops.
TechTown provides training for kids ages 7-17 in robotics, circuitry, coding, film and performing arts. Over its nearly five years of operation, TechTown has provided services to more than 8,500 children, Love says. He is currently directing the relocation of the TechTown learning center from the Edney Building on Market Street to a new home with better parking in the Eastgate Town Center area.
Recently, TechTown also started computer coding classes for adults ages 18 to 65 through a federal grant administered by the city of Chattanooga, Love said.
At 30, Love has an interesting resumé. He moved from Memphis to Chattanooga in 2007 to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he became involved with several campus organizations, such as student government and the college NAACP. At UTC, he also grew his reputation as a promoter.
"I did a lot of college parties," he says. "A lot of homecomings. A lot of back-to-schools. Talent shows."
After graduation in 2012, Love says he worked briefly in a customer service job at BlueCross BlueShield. After a year, he went to work for Bravo TV as a publicist for some of the network's reality programs such as "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" and "Thicker Than Water." The latter series ran for three seasons and featured middle-Tennessee's Ben Tankard, a gospel and jazz musician and former basketball player.
After his contract with Bravo expired, Love met former TechTown CEO Cordell Carter II, and soon decided to return to Chattanooga to work as a consultant and trainer for TechTown. Over time, he worked as an ambassador to other cities considering the TechTown model and later taught computer coding and 3D printing.
As director of operations, Love is in charge of programming TechTown's educational outreach, coordinating the work of about 15 teachers who work in local schools such as Tyner Middle School, Red Bank High School, Woodmore Elementary, and Chattanooga Preparatory School on Union Avenue.
Love credits his professional growth to having good mentors. He is currently involved in the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's Protégé Chattanooga initiative, a nine-month mentoring program for early and mid-career professionals.
And Love has begun to think of Chattanooga as a place he'd like to stay awhile.
"Chattanooga is a fun, vibrant city," he says. "And it's one of the most beautiful places anywhere."
* Job: TechTown, director of operations
* Age: 30
* From: Memphis
* Education: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, business marketing