How Alumna Jena Thomas Constructed a Parthenon of Public Relations

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College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

How Alumna Jena Thomas Constructed a Parthenon of Public Relations

July 3, 2024 | by Nolan Galbreath

Parthenon PR launches Graces Grant to tell stories of women impacting Nashville

Amidst a public relations landscape that often favors the rigor of the workplace over a balanced life at home, public relations alumna Jena Thomas (’09) is committed to the opposite as the founder and president of PR agency, Parthenon PR. At the heart of her work is the phrase “keeping the relations in public relations,” as Parthenon PR not only keeps people at the forefront of everything it does, but also seeks to give back to others in Nashville. 

When establishing the firm in 2019, Thomas, a Nashville native, knew she wanted its identity to match that of the city’s and stay anchored in the stories of its community. 
Jena Thomas

However, she did not want the firm’s name to correlate with any of Nashville’s national nicknames. Rather, she picked a name to reflect its city and the works it would produce — stories that stand the test of time, just as The Parthenon has proudly prevailed in Centennial Park since 1897. 

“I also have a close personal tie to the Parthenon,” Thomas added. “I actually got married there, so it is a great reminder of what really matters every day — relationships, not just in the office, but outside of work as well.” 

Recently, Parthenon PR embarked on a new journey to provide pro bono work to women making a positive impact in the Nashville community. The Graces Grant program is designed to assist women working in the areas of non-profit, hospitality, food, beverage or other lifestyle-focused industry. 

In line with the firm’s identity at the Greek Parthenon, the three daughters of the Greek god Zeus and goddess Hera are referred to as the Graces — Euphrosyne, Thalia and Aglaia, which can be translated to joy, bloom and brilliance respectively. These are the three key areas from which Thomas encourages those interested in the Graces Grant to share during the application process. 

“For the joy piece, we want to know what someone is doing to positively impact the community around us,” Thomas explained. “For bloom — you are poised for growth and at a place where you can blossom. Finally, for brilliance, we want to know how your work is shining above others. What’s that extra piece you bring, that je ne sais quoi.” 

The exact services offered to grant recipients will align with Parthenon PR’s strengths and the needs of the recipient. 

Many of Thomas’ storytelling team were born and raised in Nashville as well. They recognize how many remarkable, compelling stories exist within the city and deserve to be told but may not be, due to small budgets or other constraints. According to Thomas, this is why the Graces Grant exists.

Parthenon PR founders Francie Corcoron and Thomas“One of our teammates voiced a desire to tell the stories of people who can’t afford a PR firm,” said Thomas. “We wanted to see how we could help bridge that gap and tell those stories. We have always done some pro bono work, but this was the first time we formalized that process.”

Internally, Thomas also seeks to foster the same kinds of relationships and remain people-focused in everything Parthenon PR does. 

A variety of benefits are offered to employees that focus on wellness and work-life balance. These benefits extend beyond the traditional hybrid work offerings to unlimited paid time off, regular one-on-one check-ins and monthly surveys that focus on its team members as people rather than workers. 

Included on the surveys are questions such as “How do you feel supported” and “How do you feel about this.” Six months later, the same survey is sent out once again to ensure any issues have been addressed and to hold Thomas and the leadership team accountable. 

“Relationships are really all we do,” Thomas concluded. “Plenty of tactics are involved, and our strategy depends on whether we are working with a client or media relations or a teammate, but we are all about the relationships we are building — everything goes back to connections and how we nurture them.”

Thomas still holds Belmont close to her heart and serves as president of the advisory board for the College of Liberal Arts & Socials Sciences. She encourages any interested Belmont students to apply for an internship with Parthenon PR.

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