Rolodex of the West – Robin Ramsey Connects WNC

Written by Dannie Frey, Breedlove & Company

Being known as “the Rolodex of the West” is a good thing indeed when you have been working with US Senator Burr for the last six years as the Western Field Representative in 20 counties in Western North Carolina. Robin Ramsey’s day can span a groundbreaking for new affordable housing development in the morning and at a reception at a Golf Club in the evening. Robin’s role as a problem-solving Rolodex and liaison for the senator is a calling that is such a good fit for her. 

Robin remains aware of what is going on in each county, city, and community in WNC. She will pass on the information and jump into problem-solving whatever the needs are: letters of recommendations for Federal Grants, directing entities to others she has met that can help them with their issue (remember the Rolodex?), and simply answering questions such as “Why is the Parkway closed today?” 

As a 5th generation native of WNC who has never met a stranger, she has found the perfect profession that showcases her loving nature, self-control, and integrity as she works for people of the region.  

Robin takes action when an issue comes her way, sometimes all it takes is a phone call. But making that phone call or returning it goes a long way in demonstrating the commitment she has to take care of Senator Burr’s constitutes. That is important as she does care about this region and the people who live and work in WNC. The lack of Broadband and the current workforce issues that surround drug misuse are two of the top issues in our region of focus for Robin and the Senator. Many organizations, federal, state and local government, as well as economic development groups, have come to the table to work on these issues. “The best thing I can do is listen, connect folks working on an issue to others in the region who are working on the same issue, or have an interest in doing such,” says Robin. 

Ensuring each citizen has a voice is a priority for Robin. 

“Every person in the state of NC is a constituent of the Senator and should be heard. It’s hard to see through the fog of special interest groups and loud voices that take up all of the oxygen in the room. But where there are two of those, there are also two folks who feel the complete opposite who are afraid to speak out or up… I think it is vital to include both sides of the equation before coming to an answer.”

– Robin Ramsey

Robin’s job has its challenges and ensuring that all of WNC sticks together for the good of the region is one. “Funding and representation at the decision-making table.  The West has to stick together and be a unified voice, otherwise, we get lost in the quagmire called “Char-leigh” (that Charlotte/Raleigh corridor). Most of the population in the state of NC is centered around our cities and they get all of the representatives sitting at the table directing the funding.  Federal dollars from DC are sent to NC to be disbursed. I like the idea of local control of those Federal dollars, but most people do not understand how that works, it’s a complicated system. (The State is able to allocate funds more directly than the Federal Level). Leveraging those funds, combining it with state dollars, local dollars, and private dollars makes for the best scenario to get a project completed.”  

Her Role Models

As we celebrate Robin and the work she does in WNC for the people of the state, we also celebrate two women who have influenced her throughout life. 

Janice Brumit: “I first met Janice when she was a mentor to my class in the Junior League of Asheville.  I loved that she was so sharply dressed and so poised and precise in her execution of what she wanted to convey.  As I got to know her and her husband Joe more I learned that she might be a businesswoman, but she certainly had a heart for the community.  Janice is a perfect role model for young ladies that want to make a difference as well as be successful. I loved the phrase they used when you would see one without the other, “we have to divide and conquer”.  Being half of a “power couple” I completely understand the divide and conquer technique. Here recently I have seen her grace shine as she has faced unknown challenges with the transition of Mission to HCA and then being the head of the Dogwood Trust Board.”

Wilma Sherrill:  “In 1994 I started out my knowledge of politics and the legislature through the eyes of Wilma Sherrill.  Which, today, I am thankful I did. She is a strong woman and one of the few women who could put those guys in their place, not only in the legislature but in the party.  She taught me how to always say your name when you said hello to someone and to tell someone to “go to hell” in a manner in which they would enjoy the trip.”

Leadership Advice

Robin’s advice to women who want to make a difference but are just not sure how to get started, “A job is not “A JOB” if you enjoy what you do.  I was a paralegal for 20 years of my life I will never get back and for the most part, enjoyed it, but when I didn’t enjoy it any longer I searched deep in my heart and decided on a different career path.”

“I strongly encourage ladies to network, stay in contact with everyone you meet, and work towards doing what you love. Don’t quit your job before you find another and don’t job hop either. I know that is the current trend with many, but those that are in management and conduct the hiring are not thrilled with that notion.  Talk to others of influence and “put it out there in the universe” what you desire to accomplish. There are so many groups to join now that open your world to others just like you, ladies that want to make Asheville and WNC better.”

As we move into 2020, we are sure to find Robin paying attention to what is going on in the region, state, and country. “Well, I just can’t wait for all of the political commercials to take over the television, twitter, facebook, radio and all the other airwaves known to man and beast.  On that note, and to be serious now, I can’t wait till November 4th, 2020. I also see a lot of good things happening in the region. I look forward to seeing how this new HCA hospital system and the Dogwood Trust can help WNC. I look forward to helping others in the region navigate the murky waters of the federal government and meeting more and more friends in our great state.”

Congratulations Robin Ramsey on the impact you are having in WNC!



Robin Wilson Ramsey is a 2019 Women’s Leadership Award Winner in the category of “Regional.” This article was written to tell her story and recognize Robin as an exceptional female leader in Western North Carolina. A video interview will also be released in the B&Co Blog.