Olivia Karavatakis grew up on the water at Smith Mountain Lake, reveling in the natural beauty of Franklin County. Maybe that’s where her passion for sustainability and eco-friendly practices began! Her education took her to East Tennessee State University, where she majored in construction management. She honed her skill in TN for 14 years before returning home to serve as the VP Facilities Director at Carter Bank & Trust

In her capacity as VP Facilities Director, her efforts have been aimed at improving indoor air quality, reducing operating costs, improving our built environment, and increasing the pollinator habitat. Olivia has reduced the energy consumption of the Carter Bank & Trust’s 70 building footprint by 20%, and she doesn’t plan to stop there! We sat down with Olivia to hear more about her story, her life in Franklin County, and why she thinks Franklin County shines!

Tell us about yourself!

I grew up in Martinsville and after high school, went to East Tennessee State University, graduating with a degree in Construction Management. I lived in Tennessee for 14 years where I focused on sustainable and efficient designs to create a better-built environment. As they say, “there’s no place like home,” so I moved back to Rocky Mount to take a position as Facilities Director at Carter Bank & Trust, where I work to make creating a better built environment the core philosophy of the Facilities Department. That philosophy informs our work as we maintain and remodel the 75 Carter Bank & Trust buildings. 

What part of Franklin County do you live in? How long have you lived there?

I bought a house in the Rocky Mount area nearly four years ago, but spent a lot of my earlier years at my grandparent’s house in Ferrum and my parent’s house at Smith Mountain Lake.

What’s your favorite part about living in Franklin County?

I love the country roads, how the air smells amazing with fresh cut hay and wildflowers in bloom, exploring Waid Park and soaking in the sun at Smith Mountain and Philpott Lakes. Access to farm fresh food is also a plus!

What do you do for fun outside of work?

I spend most of my time outside. I’ll either be working in my garden, exploring the woods, hiking and camping, spending time by a river or with my family at SML, and snowboarding in the winter! 

What’s your favorite place in Franklin County?

It’s a tie! I really enjoy exploring Waid Park with my dog. It has a variety of trail types and my dog loves playing in the Pigg River. I also spend a lot of time at SML with my family; we have had a house on the lake since 1998. Summers are fun and winters are peaceful.

What is the coolest thing about Franklin County?

The Harvester!!!! It is so amazing that we have a music venue that is able to pull in the caliber of artists it does! I have been able to see some of my favorite artists in one of the most intimate venues around. Because of its size, every seat is a great seat and that is hard to get at most venues! 

What professional groups/organizations are you involved in?

I am the founder of the Carter Bank & Trust Green Team, a group of environmentally-minded associates who desire to inspire environmentally friendly programs and concepts that impact our internal and external communities within the company’s footprint. I am also a member of the Eco Ambassador Council, whose goal is to provide opportunities for regional businesses to pool resources and engage in shared environmental initiatives for the benefit of our communities, stakeholders, and the economy. 

Through the bank, I have also volunteered my technical abilities in providing energy assessments to Piedmont Arts Association and The Southern Virginia Child Advocacy Center. On the side and when I have availability, I volunteer with the Harvester, assisting as needed during various events. 

What advice do you have for finding or meeting new people?

I still feel like a newbie in town…As a person actively trying to meet people, I like to go to a lot of community events because that is generally a great way to meet people. The farmers marketyoga at Living Proof & the new yoga studio, and working at the Harvester have been my favorite ways to meet people so far! 

What’s your go-to conversation starter?

Since I’ve recently moved back to this area, I feel like I am rediscovering it as an adult. I am always asking people for their recommendations on hikes, restaurants, what local businesses to support, etc. I love supporting local businesses, as it’s the best way to build our local economy, so I want to make sure I am in the know!  

What does #FranklinCountyShines mean to you?

#FranklinCountyShines provides a great opportunity to showcase the local businesses and people who are making an impact and helping this community SHINE! Creating a great way for locals to share, learn, discover, and experience something new in the community. It’s the people that make Franklin County Shine, they light you up like sunshine!

Franklin County Shines is a series about the people and places that make Franklin County one of the best places to live, work, and play. #FranklinCountyShines