#TwinCityConnections: Christy Spencer


christy spencer

This #TwinCityConnections is with one of our Board Members who joined in 2017. Christy C. Spencer. Christy Spencer is Vice-President of JKS Incorporated and co-owner of The Winston Cup Museum Special Event Center.

“I live in Winston-Salem for a couple of reasons – First – I was born and raised here and Second – I just love the city – our history, our community – the commitment that our residents have to thinking creatively to solve problems and generate new business.

I love that there is so much to do – and that its accessible to everyone.  If you want to volunteer here in WS – its easy to get involved.  If the arts are your passion – we have it.  If continuing your education is something you love – we have that too.  If you want to visit a park that is free and open to the public – you can – we have lots of them.

Where is the ONE place you would send someone in WS if they were visiting? Okay – that’s hard – everyone loves different things.  If they can only go one place I think I would send someone to the Reynolda House because the history of Mr. R.J.Reynolds and his wife, Katharine, really helps explains why our city grew and thrived in the early 20th century.

How long have been a member of the Board of the Ambassadors? WHY did you JOIN the Board? I joined the board in May of 2017.  And I joined after meeting Mackenzie and hearing about the mission of the Ambassadors.  I love this city and I want to be involved with an organization that fosters spreading the word about what an amazing community we have along with including everyone and anyone who feels the same way.

Where do you see WS going in the next few years? In the next 10?  I think this is probably happening now and will continue but I believe that with all the expansion at Innovative Quarter and the influx of people coming to work or study there – we will see many adults (ages 25 to 35) deciding to make WS their permanent home where there is affordable housing, a vibrant downtown with entertainment options and is a great community to eventually raise their families.  In the next 10 years – I think we will see WS developing a true artisian culture between our local breweries and local artists.  We will have artist maker spaces (work/live environments) that encourage and promote creativity – and in turn will bring visitors and art enthusiasts from all over the world.

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The Winston Cup Museum is located at 1355 N Martin Luther King Jr Dr, Winston-Salem, NC 27101, in Downtown Winston-Salem.  Website is here.

#TwinCityConnections: Nikkie Pridgen

My name is Nikkie Pridgen, and I am a native of Winston Salem, NC.  I am a former Program Coordinator at Wake Forest Innovations, and am the CEO of N.V. Menagerie.

I chose to live and work in Winston Salem “because home is where the heart is”.  I attended college in-state at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte- but also about an hour and a half away from my friends and family.  I quickly came to realize that although Charlotte was pretty amazing, it didn’t compare to Winston Salem.  I love the feeling of ‘community’ in this city, and am excited about all that it has to offer.

Winston Salem has made great strides in Art and Innovation over recent years.  We are now getting national recognition for programs and technologies created in my home town.  We have also established a prominent Arts District, embracing the significance of artistic expression.  I have a great sense of pride in all the amazing accomplishments Winston Salem has achieved.

For 15 years my partner (Victoria Myers) and I have conducted a ton of market research, to find that 99% of bars/ nightclubs offer the exact same thing.  To have an authentic experience, one must make travel arrangements to attend an event.  As the city of Arts and Innovation, I believe that Winston Salem can be a catalyst in reinventing what we know as “nightlife”.  The premise behind the concept of N.V. Menagerie has been to bring performance arts to the bar.  Our motto is “When NY and LA meet NC”.  With so much talent in the city, including the students and alumni of UNC School of The Arts, this city could create a new nightclub culture highlighting theater and performance arts.  We intend to not only feature Burlesque shows, but everything the city has to offer (comedy, magic, aerial art, Fine art, Music and vocalist, spoken word, and much more!)  Our stage will provide our artists a platform to their peers, and a social hub for the performance arts community.  We are hoping to establish what will become a local venue that will attract people from all over the state.  Our business model is to back the growth of North Carolina economy by partnering with local vineyards and breweries, providing permanent employment, creating a platform for local arts community, and networking with local entrepreneurs to bring innovative ideas to the table.

With such an artistic theme, we would love to base this venue in The Winston Salem Downtown Arts District in hopes of drawing more visitors to the area.  N.V Menagerie Bar & Lounge would provide the city a unique, upscale social hub for both business professionals and the local Arts community.

We have recently launched our Indiegogo Kickstarter Campaign, where you can find more information on our project, as well as grab some amazing perks for your contributions!  We are hoping to raise $250,000 to over startup costs and help with Operating Costs for the first 6 months.  ( https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/n-v-menagerie-bar-and-burlesque-lounge-dance-entertainment#/ ).  Our website is https://www.nvmenagerie.com/.  You can reach us at nvmenagerie@gmail.com.

We are so excited to bring this venue to Winston Salem; Cheers to Arts and Innovation!



The Importance of Intentions

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about intentions. In my work leading this small, new-ish nonprofit, there is a lot of explaining about who we are. Because we are so new, there is a lot of talk around our intentions. Though a nonprofit is a business, our mission, or our intentions, are what set us apart others.

Merriam-Webster defines intention as a ‘determination to act in a certain way.’ The Winston-Salem Ambassadors mission is to increase awareness of Winston-Salem. Our intentions are to educate and to help. Our intentions are based in being helpful, positive and productive. Whatever else you glean from a conversation with someone from the Ambassadors, these things are what we hope you walk away feeling.

We intend to help you move forward. We intend to help make Winston-Salem a better place.

What do you intend?

-Mackenzie Cates-Allen/ President, Winston-Salem Ambassadors

intention definition

#TwinCityConnections: Jay Sinclair

 Jay shots 083


First I want to say a thank you to Mackenzie Cates-Allen for inviting me to do this and for some reason being interested in my thoughts!

I also want to thank the Winston-Salem Ambassadors for their hard work in trying to make Winston-Salem the best city it possibly can be, a city that is welcoming to all with a strong economy and a thriving city where you can live, work, enjoy, connect and learn. (Yes, I stole that from their About Page!)

What’s your name?

Jay Sinclair/J. Sinclair Photography

What do you do for a living? How did you get started?

I’m a freelance photographer. I mostly shoot for local, regional and occasionally national magazines but also shoot a lot of design and architecture for various clients.

As I tell most people when they ask, “I don’t do weddings d I don’t do portraits of families jumping up at the beach.” Ha! I really admire those who do that well but I knew when I started photographing, I wouldn’t sleep at night photographing weddings! Bridezillas and their moms scare me!

I’ve been shooting professionally for about 13 years. I loved photography in high school but went away from it for years. I began to casually mess around with it again 17 years ago but when I borrowed a friends early digital camera to put some things on eBay, I began playing around with it and something connected… the immediacy, the digital darkroom, the timing, whatever it was, I was completely obsessed.

I knew I wanted to do something with my photography but didn’t know what. As fate would have it, I traveled a lot with my work for one of the Inmar companies and on one flight I sat beside a man reading a camera manual. I struck up a conversation and I asked if he did much photography.  He modestly said he was a professional magazine photographer. I asked who he shot for and he said he had done some stuff for National Geographic. He introduced himself and I didn’t know who he was.

Turns out he was David Alan Harvey and for those who don’t know is a true master, world-renowned photographer who’s shot over 40 articles for National Geographic and who’s an extremely giving teacher as well.

He was gracious enough to look through the photos I had on my laptop and was very encouraging. This was Sept 2004. That next Feb, I took a workshop with him and at the end he asked what I wanted to do with my photography. I told him I loved it and wanted to see where it would take me. He said he doesn’t usually encourage trying to do it professionally but thought I had an eye for it and would help mentor me.

We worked out a plan for me to take a year off, working on my craft by shooting a personal project on the backroads of the Carolinas. I thought I would do a book and do fine art photography and sell through galleries and art shows. I did that for the first few years but at the end of my first year, Winston-Salem Monthly magazine was starting up.

I started shooting for them, just a little at first, and found I really enjoyed magazine work. I must have been fairly decent or really cheap because they began to use me more and more. Then doors opened for other magazine and travel work and here I am!

It’s a good fit for me. I meet a lot of people from many walks of life, photograph everything from beautiful scenics to portraits to editorial stories, lifestyle, fashion, food and design.

I shoot most of Winston-Salem Monthly’s photography along with work for Our State Magazine, various city visitor guides and back when they had the budgets, Delta Sky Magazine and US Airways’ in-flight magazine. That was a blast, getting paid to spend a week or two in a city and photographing it. Lots of pressure and long hours but really fun… New Orleans, Albuquerque, Savannah, Santa Barbara, wonderful places!

Why do you live and work in WS? 

I both live and work in WS. It’s home. I was born and raised here except for college years. I threatened to move away several times to be closer to the coast but family, family business and friends always kept me here.

Having spent the last decade documenting, photographing and learning the city in a completely different fashion than growing up here, I have to say that I adore this town and the people in it. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to a lot of cities and now know what a special place Winston-Salem is.

It’s a wonderful blend… large enough to offer quite a bit to do but small enough to be sane and great for raising a family. It’s close to the mountains and not too far from the coast. Winston-Salem is vibrant and has a certain unique warmth, charm and character. It’s less corporate and impersonal than many other cities our size.

Through WS Monthly and Our State, I’ve been fortunate to meet so many people in the community that are trying to make WS a better place in all it’s different facets. And it’s paying off.

I remember when you had to have a bit of a pioneer spirit to live downtown. Now it’s vibrant, thriving and yes, becoming gentrified but it’s been beautiful to observer, document and hopefully be a part of the reason for it’s successful renaissance!

I actually moved downtown about 4 years ago. It was something I always wanted to do and wanted to experience it for a couple of years. It’s been wonderful to be within walking distance of so much our city has to offer. Yes, it’s noisy and the sirens and weekend traffic can wear on you but I really have enjoyed it! 

 What do you love most about WS?

Since photographing the city these past years, I’ve been very fortunate to meet so many talented and passionate people here from all walks of life: Native Winstonians along with long ago and more recent transplants. I now can go out and it’s rare I don’t see a friend or an acquaintance or someone I’ve photographed and it feels like an embrace when that happens. It brings a familiarity and warmth that I imagine living in a smaller town would bring.

Where is the ONE place you would send someone in WS if they were visiting? 

 Ok… I’m going to cheat in honor of our hyphenated city! Winston… the downtown is so special now. As it began to crawl back to life 15-20 years ago, you would occasionally see activity or events with lots of folks attending but rarely anyone out after 5pm. Then you began to see evening diners and people out walking on the weekends… hints of what was coming. Now I can drive or walk through lots of the downtown and people are everywhere, day and night.

Salem… Old Salem is a must see just for it’s uniqueness. Other than a handful of other US cities, we are very fortunate to have this living museum, especially on this scale. It’s known far and wide, even if some people do think it’s because we had the Salem Witch Trials here! Just a simple drive or walk through Old Salem quickly shows a visitor what a lovely place it is! And there’s sugar cake!

Where do you see WS going in the next few years? In the next 10?

In the next few years: A couple of years ago, I photographed a digital article for Our State on Winston-Salem and one of the aspects they wanted was to show some of the older unrestored empty downtown tobacco factories and warehouses we were known for, in juxtaposition to the newer renovated and repurposed areas.

They weren’t there! All the major tobacco buildings have been redone or were in the process of being repurposed. It was a sign to me that we were reaching a first milestone in the downtown revitalization. People want to live, work and play in downtown WS and there are lots of opportunities. Unfortunately for a lot of people, there’s a cost to that gentrification.

There aren’t many spaces available for artists and creatives to work or live now in downtown. I know it’s not a unique problem for Winston but for the formally known “City of the Arts”, we are now the “City of Arts and Innovation” and sadly are in danger of moving further away from the Arts aspect.

Fortunately we have a lot of talented and passionate people working on keeping the “Arts” strong in our name but it’s a challenge and one that will only get harder. The arts dollars have shrunk and have to stretch further now as well. It’s a tough problem!

We also haven’t been inclusive in our resurgence. The Highway 52 divide is still present and strong. Hopefully, now that we have a solid core downtown, our energies and monies can expand into and be invested in those areas as well. I know there is a concern and push to work in that direction and I hope it will be as successful as the central downtown revitalization has been.

The next 10 years:  I’m certainly not a visionary or mover and shaker but I think a lot will hinge on the additional outside businesses we can attract. Our internal growth has been great and we can all see the results up and down 4th Street and in the expanding Arts District along with Bailey Park and Innovation Quarter and throughout downtown.

All these commitments and energies business owners and leaders have made and applied are going to anchor the downtown solidly but attracting 1 or 2 new large businesses from outside would be game changing. Exciting stuff when it happens!

My Info:

Jay Sinclair / Sinclair Photography



#TwinCityConnections: Beth Blair

From Beth Blair / Written by Mackenzie Cates-Allen

In Winston-Salem, NC, we have some really cool folks. One of them is Beth Blair.


Beth Blair is board certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork, licensed in NC and has a private practice here in Winston-Salem.  The foundation of her practice is the acronym SEAMLESS: Somatic, working with the body through massage therapy and movement.  Energy Awareness, using modalities such as Reiki, energywork, Healing Touch and Tai Chi to support her clients. Meaningful Living, connecting to what the client values through somatic coaching and wellness coaching.  Engaging Senses and Spirit: Using the senses to bring healing through touch, aromatherapy, hot stones, dialogue, and connecting to the spiritual language that is Universal.

In addition to her private clients, Beth teaches Seamless Movement/Tai Chi for Wellness in the community.  The focus of the classes is balance and overall wellness, so it draws students from our senior members of the community. Beth has formatted the class in a way that it is fun, creates community and brings easy movements that anyone can do.  This is a valuable part of what she does. Supporting, connecting and teaching in our community.

Beth is also an Artist.  She has been creating abstract art for almost 3 years.  Originally, she was painting just for herself.  Now she has had shows in galleries, coffee shops and cafes.  Beth has sold some and love the healing it brings for herself, others and conversations around it. She is currently part of  a show at The Enrichment Center (1006 S. Marshall St. Winston-Salem, NC) “Space and Beyond”.  It is a display of art from the students of the Enrichment Center and a Guest Artist, Beth.  The show runs through March 16th, 2018.  The Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday 11a-4p or by appointment.  Beth will be in the Gallery, Friday February 9th from 11a-1p for “Meet Me in the Gallery”.  Also, Beth is working with The Enrichment Center, creating a special presentation on “Art and Healing”. This will be a talk of several people in the art community on February 27th at 6:30pm.  The Gallery will be open that evening at 6:00pm and the Enrichment Center’s Culinary Arts program will be providing light refreshments.

Beth came to this work through her own healing from chronic pain.  Beth was diagnosed with 3 degenerative discs 15 years ago and was searching for pain relief.  She found temporary relief through allopathic medicine and was directed to acupuncture which then brought her to Tai Chi and Healing Touch. Beth studied the first 3 levels of Healing Touch and decided she needed a license to touch, because she wanted to help others with pain relief.  The shortest route was to attend massage therapy school.  Once she graduated from Body Therapy Institute in Siler City, Beth started a small private practice out of her home.  From there, Beth took a full-time job at Hospice here in Winston and maintained her small practice. Beth’s time at Hospice was incredibly valuable because it honed her therapeutic skills in listening to the whole person.  She transitioned to a full-time private practice, adding the Tai Chi/QiGong classes as another offering of healing and wellness in the community.

Massage therapy and self-care is more than fluff or luxury.  They work to balance the body, mind and spirit of a person, promoting healing.  It is nurturing and supportive to other treatment plans and protocols.  When there is pain, the body is in “fight or flight” and cannot heal.  Creating moments of relaxation and rest allows for the body to heal. Beth approaches her work as a partnership with her client; she is not fixing anything without their help and engagement. Massage therapy is not supposed to hurt (generally).

In addition to her massage therapy credentials, Beth has a BS in Economics from Iona College, New Rochelle, NY.  Beth is a mother of an awesome 22-year-old son and she volunteers for City With Dwellings, offering Tai Chi to their guests two days a month.

Beth’s heart is in making connections for people and with people. She enjoys meeting new people, talking about what’s important to them (dreams, visions, goals, life).  If she can connect them with another person who can help, she does.  Beth is always looking to create relationships referrals in health, wellness, art, community and socializing in the Greater Winston-Salem area. This is where she works, lives and connects.  Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool for businesses like hers. Beth believes it is not just about her business, it is about the community.

Beth moved to NC 22 years ago from NY. She first lived in Wilmington and relocated to Winston-Salem 20 years ago.  Beth moved here to be closer to family, as her mother and grandparents had relocated here as well. Also, their relocation to the Triad was for a career move for her son’s dad.

Beth has had many great teachers in her life to this point, picking one role model was a challenge. Her mother was her first role model and has been the main one for many reasons.  Beth credits her for her style of connecting people, her take charge manor and willingness to follow her dream. Georgia O’Keefe is another person Beth would classify as a role model.  After seeing the exhibit at Reynolda House, Beth understands more deeply why she loved her art when BEth was younger.  She was a powerhouse and humble at the same time.

Beth gets inspiration from everywhere…but especially through heart-felt connections, people, the woods, or seeing the connecting threads that makes us human.

Beth’s classes are listed on her website HERE.  Beth is partnering with Catherine J. Howard for a series of workshop, Navigating the Pathways…”  The first one is “Navigating The Pathways to the Heart”, Saturday February 17th, 2-4pm. More Info Here There is also a place to book a session.  In addition to art as an expression, Beth writes and has blogs on her website as well. Overall, Beth’s main focus is helping others.


Beth Blair, BCTMB, LMBT NC 8473

Seamless Living NC

Office is located inside The Wellness Collective on 5th
823 W 5th Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101

(336) 407-0621



Everyday Awards WINNERS Announced

The Winston-Salem Ambassadors Announce

The Winners of the First Annual Everyday Awards

The Winston-Salem Ambassadors would like to congratulate the winners of the first ever Everyday Awards. “The Everyday Awards celebrate our neighbors, friends and colleagues in Winston-Salem who work tirelessly, day in and day out to make our city a better place. These Everyday heroes do not seek recognition, but nonetheless make Winston-Salem better.” Our winners for 2017 are Fay Horwitt, Joseph Hamby, Jacinta White, Jake Easter and Amy Easter and Tabetha Bailey.

Please join us on Thurs. Jan. 25th at 11:15am at the Winston Cup Museum as we celebrate them.

  Fay Horwitt – HUSTLE Winston-Salem

Joseph Hamby – New Resources Consulting

Jacinta White – Poet, Publisher of Snapdragon and a/perture cinema

Amy Easter –WS Cycling Advocacy Network –Jake Easter

Tabetha Bailey – City of Winston-Salem

winners snapshot

New Board for 2018

Happy New Year!

As we celebrate the end of our first year in existence, we bid a fond adieu to our first inaugural Board of Advisors with a huge thank you for their service. We are excited to welcome a new Board for 2018, with new leadership.

Chairing our Board of Advisors for 2018 is Anne Donovan. Vice-Chair is Amanda Hoey, Treasurer Kristina Welch and Secretary is Christy Spencer. Our Past Chair is Jordan Googe.


We are thrilled to welcome five new Board Members.

Al Kessler

al kessler

Originally from New York City, Al Kessler grew up in Connecticut. He comes to Winston-Salem from Macon, Georgia, where he lived for 2 years. Al is the Vice President of Media Relations, Communications, and Broadcasting for the Carolina Thunderbirds Professional Hockey Team.


Erin Lanthrop


Erin Lathrop is proud to call Winston-Salem her home of 11 years.  After living on the west coast for a number of years, Erin felt called to Winston-Salem.  Erin is devoted to promoting Winston-Salem as a thriving, unique town that promotes diversity and welcomes all generations into its fold.  Certainly, Erin is thrilled to promote awareness of all that Winston-Salem offers.


Nathan Geipel

nathan geipel

Nathan Geipel has lived in Winston-Salem for the last 10 years and been visiting family in Winston-Salem for 20. Nathan works with a local Internet Service Provider in Winston-Salem called X1 Communications.


Nikita Wallace


Nikita Wallace is the CEO and Founder of Winston Salem Fashion Week (WSFW.) She is a wife and mother of 2 who loves all things fashion, running and Prince. She is an artist, stylist and designer with ties to New York. Nikita has a desire to see the city of Winston-Salem thrive even more.


Terry Miller

terry miller correct

Terry Miller has lived in Winston-Salem just over 5 years now and it truly feels like Home. Owning Twin City Hive has given him the opportunity to meet and become “neighbors” with so many individuals. Terry loves to share all the great aspects of Winston-Salem and what it has to offer and cannot wait to work with the group and help make Winston-Salem shine like a Moravian star!



A Thanksgiving Note from WSA President

Dear Friend,

Happy Holidays. I don’t know about you, but I am stunned that it’s already Thanksgiving! I sincerely hope that you are well and have had a great 2017. The Winston-Salem Ambassadors as an organization has been around for almost one year; what a year it has been!

With a mission to increase awareness of Winston-Salem, we have been very busy. First, allow me to give a most heartfelt thank you to the inaugural Board of Advisors: Chair Jordan Googe, Vice-Chair Anne Donovan, Secretary Sandy Meeks, Treasurer Lindsey Howard, members Amanda Hoey, Kristina Welch, Tim Beeman, Max Maxwell, Maura Paterson, Christy Spencer, Diana Westrick and Lesley Lamb. This year simply would not have been possible without their help. It has been a honor to serve with you, Board of Advisors and thank you, thank you, thank you for your service. These are wonderful people from all different types of backgrounds.

This first year, myself, the Board of Advisors and those interested in helping have spread the word that we are here to help. We have promoted inclusivity, enablement, empowerment and connection. We love our city and join with the many people already helping it grow.

In 2017, we have had Workshops, a musical event (called SSO4) and countless meetings. In 2018 we plan to increase all of these. Our last workshop, open to all, which is a wonderful, low-key conversation about all things Winston-Salem will be held December 6 at the West End Coffeehouse at 5pm. Following that, our Holiday Social + Meet the Board will commence. We invite you to join us and come see what the Winston-Salem Ambassadors is all about!

Last but not least, our Annual Meeting and Everyday Awards will be held January 25, 2018 starting at 11:15am at the Winston Cup Museum. It is a celebration of our first year and the presentation of the newly created Everyday Awards, which celebrates people who make our city a better place, just by being who they are. Mayor Allen Joines, Council Member D.D. Adams and Council Member Jeff MacIntosh will join us. Tickets are $10 or $11.50 online and we hope you can join us to celebrate all things Winston-Salem.

I am beyond thankful to be a part of such an amazing city and honored to lead the Winston-Salem Ambassadors. There are many ways to get involved, so please feel free to ask questions at any time! I can be reached at (336) 775-7102 or at mackenzie@wsambassadors.org. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, a great Holiday and a Happy New Year!

Most Sincerely,

Mackenzie Cates Allen

Founder & President, Winston-Salem Ambassadors


Honorary Envoys Added to Ambassadorship Program

October 2, 2017

The Winston-Salem Ambassadors announce the addition of the Honorary Envoy Program to the Ambassadorship Program.

The Honorary Envoys have been dubbed “Ambassadors Lite” by Winston-Salem Ambassadors President & Chief Ambassadors, Mackenzie Cates Allen.

You can find the requirements HERE!


Park of the Month – Oak Summit Park

The splash pads may be closed now, but our parks sure aren’t! Oak Summit Park, conveniently located just off University Parkway, is one of many fantastic park options as the weather cools down a bit!

Affectionately known to local children as “the spaceship park”, the large playground is comprised of two rocket-themed play sets and swings. There are also tennis courts, a covered area with picnic tables (It’s reservable, and there’s room for more than 60 people!), grills, a walking track, a play field, and brand new bathrooms! Everything you could hope for in a park is found at Oak Summit.

Address: 350 Oak Summit Road, Winston-Salem, 27105
For more information on shelter reservation and more, call 336-734-1219.