Born in Buffalo, N.Y., work brought Melissa Ferguson-Dilley to the South in 1997.
Ferguson-Dilley went to school at Hamburg High School, south of Buffalo in the small town of Hamburg, N.Y., and Erie Community College.
"I was brought to Lebanon for my job as a hotel manager at the Holiday Inn Express," she recalled. She also worked with her grandfather and uncle who formed a management company.
For 13 years, she worked as a hotel manager with Holiday Inn, Sleep Inn, Best Western and Executive Inn.
Nowadays she is a partner and office manager at Pinnacle Landscaping as well as a block clerk at Manheim Nashville Auto Auction, where she has worked for more than seven years.
"The best part of my job is each day is new and different. I work with great people and have a job that allows me to accomplish what I need at home with my kids and our business," Ferguson-Dilley said.
She has been married to husband Kevin Dilley for seven years. Between them, they have five kids: Jake Ferguson, 16; Alex Dilley, 8; Cody Dilley, 24; Evan Ferguson, 26; and Mary Caroline Ferguson, 23.
Ferguson-Dilley is a member of Immanuel Baptist Church, where she teaches first-graders on Wednesday nights. She is also a member of the Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce Sports Council and serves on the Phoenix Ball Committee at Cumberland University.
She is a graduate of the Leadership Wilson Class of 2008.
Ferguson-Dilley named her grandmother, June Collins Castiglia, as a woman she greatly admires.
"We all just call her 'June.' She was amazing in every way. She was the kindest person I knew," she said. "She taught me at a young age to love Jesus. As a child, I remember her always busy. June didn't just have one job or job description. She baled hay with my grandfather on their farm, worked in their jewelry and music stores, did every job in their hotels and anything else that was needed of her."
June instilled in her the importance of working hard.
"She is one of the main reasons my grandfather was so successful. My grandmother trusted her faith her entire life and is a huge part of who I am today," Ferguson-Dilley said. "Both my grandmothers were very special to me."