Sybil McLain-Topel, MFA, IOM, has served as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce since 2014. Shortly before joining the Chamber, she completed a Masters in Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta.
In Chattanooga she serves on the board of ArtsBuild and on the board of directors of a brand-new start up arts organization called the Pop-Up-Project. She’s an active member of the Public Relations Society of America, Rotary and the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute.
In 2017 the Chattanooga Chamber, a 1,700-member organization with a $6 million budget, won the coveted Chamber of the Year award at the annual Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. One of her team’s recent marketing campaigns has garnered national and local awards with its tongue-in-cheek “Literally Perfect” video as the centerpiece of a comprehensive talent and business recruitment campaign.
She is a graduate of the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute and Leadership Chattanooga.
During grad school she wrote regularly for an international career blog based in Singapore, interviewing executives from St. Louis, London, Hong Kong and Singapore. The Lillian E. Smith Center awarded her a writers’ residency at its northwest Georgia location in Clayton in 2014. Sybil began her career in Nashville as a reporter and editor for the wire service agency United Press International and lived in Nashville for more than 25 years. Prior to moving to Atlanta she led branding and digital communications strategy for nearly six years at Street Dixon Rick Architecture.
She served for eight years on the CABLE Board of Directors, from 1995 through 2003.
Earlier in her career she worked with Dallas-based Spaeth Communications, providing communications consulting for FedEx and AIG and a number of healthcare clients. She also worked in marketing and communications for AT&T and SunTrust Banks.
Sybil believes in the value of life-long commitments to civic and professional leadership and she served as president of two professional organizations: CABLE and the Nashville Chapter of the Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), which provides continuing education and certification for marketing professionals in the Architecture/Construction/Engineering fields.
Her writing has been published in numerous magazines and journals. Once – back in the day when the original songwriting pirate actually was turning 40 – she interviewed singer Jimmy Buffet, a claim to fame that at least one first cousin calls the pinnacle of her career.
In addition to working on a creative non-fiction book, she creates fine art photography offered through Area 61 Gallery in Chattanooga and The Newbill Collection in Seaside, Florida.
Her body of work falls into three loosely defined areas – pop culture layered with art references; quirky, often humorous juxtapositions; and emotionally charged landscapes. In 2017 the Hunter Museum’s Spectrum Committee selected one of her works for its prestigious annual art auction. Three works are featured in The Edwin Hotel in Chattanooga and her work is displayed in California, New York, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. Instagram and Facebook accounts: Art South Now. She loves Chattanooga and misses Nashville.