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From Hospitality to the Campus of Life with Matthew Parsons and Laura Harrelson

If you don’t already know, we are excited to welcome Matthew Parsons and Laura Harrelson to our Development Team here at the TERI Campus of Life. Matthew is our new Managing Director of Business Strategy and Laura is our new Event Sales Director and both have a history of working in hospitality together. Laura recently sat down with Matt to hear more about his journey joining the TERI team, to him bringing her on board and his vision for the future at the Campus of Life.

Laura: I don’t think you’ve told me how you went from hearing about the TERI Campus of Life to now working on site. How did you get here?

Matt: A friend of mine from my House of Blues days, Steve Miller, was telling me about the Montgomery Farm with the pigs, chickens, water retention program and micro green business initially. I’ve had an ongoing interest in urban agriculture especially recently while I was studying for my Masters in Food and Agriculture, Law and Policy. That conversation grew into him introducing me to Cheryl and Bill since there was an opportunity here at the Campus of Life to grow their agriculture program. That conversation evolved into me consulting with TERI after they had a lot of questions about how they could take what they have and where they could grow with an urban agriculture business.

Laura: And that was it? You were on the team?

Matt: Almost. I identified the different areas they could grow into but also the challenges. I said, ‘Ok, now let’s solve them’. I presented my solutions and here I am as the Managing Director of Business Strategy.

Laura: Shortly after that, we reconnected over coffee at what seems like the perfect time! I was coming off furthering my education and certification in event and wedding planning and preparing to start looking for a new position in event sales. You mentioned that there might be an opportunity as that was on the horizon for the Campus of Life.

Matt: To be honest, I was back in San Diego County and wanted to reconnect and catch up. That catch up turned into something bigger for both of us. You know, when I interviewed you almost ten years ago at the University Club, you showed up with a beautiful presentation and resume that left an impact. I remember having a powerful conversation with you that day about the member experience at the club, providing people with life-changing experiences and how do we make that economically viable. Fast forward to now, I knew when we were catching up that there was an opportunity to bring your experience and mindset to the TERI team in support of our mission here at the Campus of Life.

Laura: I’m so thrilled to be here and not only bring more awareness to TERI’s mission the Campus of Life, but also to directly impact the continued development of this campus. What are you excited about the most now that we have the Event Sales Department up and running?

Matt: When someone comes to the Campus for their first time, it's an experience that brings a sense of peace, tranquility, and beauty. That’s what it did for me. If you’ve never been along the mountains in the Twin Oaks Valley, you won’t understand what that means until you get here. Bringing someone out here for a tour for their first time can be life changing. The opportunity we have working together is a priority to bring more people to the Campus. Not through one event but creating a community centerpiece for the people of North County because that’s our mission. Create those spaces for people to feel comfortable with folks with developmental disabilities, clients, and their families. It’s a spectacular space where you can continue to discover new areas, get back to nature and connect with the surroundings of Southern California.

Laura: I couldn’t agree more that the experience here is next to none. I was instantly stunned when you showed me the property. You had just broke ground for the Performing Arts Center when I visited that first time. What are you most excited about when it’s up and running in December of this year?

Matt: Most importantly, we’ll be expanding services for TERI clients and their families. This is a very creative group of people, and this new center will be able to help them discover their joy and gift through art, painting, pottery and more, that can bring real joy to someone’s life. In addition to that, we’ll have the chance to provide the north county community with music and theatre experiences at night and on weekends. We will hopefully become a destination for people to come and enjoy time with family and friends for all types of events that revolve around the arts. I’m really stoked about that. We’re going to have such a beautiful facility in an incredible location offering unique, interesting, and educational experiences for all people of all ages in an inclusive space.

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