Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

May 31, 2006

Tonya Hinch: A prodigal daughter returns to Crossville

If the title of this article sounds biblically familiar, that is where the similarity between the Bible story of the prodigal son and the story of Tonya Hinch ends. The prodigal son had a tough time out in the real world; Tonya did not. She left Crossville in 1981 for the University of Tennessee and did well, graduating in 1985 with a B.S. in business administration with a marketing major and psychology minor.

She began her career with Proctor & Gamble and did well; at Clairol in 1987 she did better, then on to Neutrogena in 1991. If you think Tonya was moving up the corporate ladder, you would be partially correct. She is bright, creative and driven to plan and achieve clearly identified goals. However, her personal goals included living in New York and retiring by age 40. By 2002, only 17 years after completing her undergraduate studies at UT, Tonya was executive vice president of Edison Schools and had lived in New York for many years. She managed 7,000 employees and $500 million in business. A for-profit manager of public schools, Edison moved from the 1,000th largest to 43rd largest of 15,000 school systems in the U.S. Then, true to her goals, she retired from full-time work, began writing a book and created a personal consulting and coaching company called Retiring Backwards ( By age 40 Tonya was at home in New York City, had traveled around the world, was a hugely successful marketing executive and retired.

Then, in late 2004 Tonya's father, Don Hinch, had emergency heart surgery and was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Don was born in Pleasant Hill and married a fine lady of the McNeil family from Hebbertsburg. He developed a life and health insurance agency over 43 years and was an ardent and key supporter of the Crossville Chamber of Commerce and Rotary. Tonya made plans to move back to Crossville part time to assist with her father's care and passing. During those seven months with her father, Tonya realized that both Crossville and she had changed. Her father reintroduced her to old friends and introduced her to new ones as he brought her up-to-date with the community. She began to internalize the vision that her father had for Crossville and she realized she was needed to run the family business. She also recognized the charm of the town and its people, and she made a life changing decision to be a part of Crossville's future.

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