VIProfile: Keli McAlister

Chair of 2017 Blue Suede Dinner & Auction for the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse

Keli McAlister

Keli McAlister

I have learned that a few people can make a big difference. The Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse has also opened my eyes to just how many good people there are in West Tennessee.
— Keli McAlister, Chair of the 2017 Blue Suede Dinner & Auction

Story by Lyda Kay Ferree, The Southern Lifestyles Lady. Photography courtesy of Darren Lykes.

Keli McAlister may be seen weeknights on WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News at 5, 6 and 10 pm, serving the news department as both anchor and executive producer.

Before her return to West Tennessee in January of 2008, Keli’s news career took her across the country. She has worked as a reporter in both Seattle, WA and Oklahoma City, OK, where she has covered major news-making events ranging from the eruption of Mount St. Helens to the execution of Timothy McVeigh to the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy.

Throughout her career, Keli has been recognized for her work on and off air, and she remains active in the West Tennessee community by volunteering for various groups including the Jackson Exchange Club, RIFA and United Way.


VIP: There are many non-profit organizations in Jackson and West Tennessee. What sets the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse apart from other non-profits in Jackson and West Tennessee?

Keli McAlister: What sets the Center apart for me is its very clear mission. Our sole mission is to end child abuse and heal the children and families affected.


VIP: How many years has the Blue Suede Dinner and Auction been held?

KM: This is the 23rd year for the Blue Suede Dinner and Auction.


VIP: Share a short history of this popular annual event.

KM: The event was launched as a way to raise money so the Center could have a permanent home without taking funds away from the free programs and services it offers. Carl Perkins and a few friends provided the entertainment, raising $45,000. In less than four years enough money was raised through the Dinner and Auction to retire the debt of the Child Advocacy Center.


VIP: What are the chief goals of the 2017 event?

KM: We hope it serves as a way for the community to celebrate the success of the Center as the Center thanks our supporters, volunteers and Exchange Club members.


VIP: What are your chief responsibilities as chair of the Blue Suede Dinner and Auction at the Carl Perkins Civic Center?

KM: My hope is not to get in the way of our very talented volunteer committee members. They are the ones who truly do all the work!


VIP: Do you have a co-chair who assists you with this event? Does your co-chair become the chair of the event next year?

KM: Yes! My co-chair is Scott Beard. He will take over as chair next year.


VIP: What is the financial goal of this year’s event and how will the monies be used?

KM: Our goal is to raise more money than we did last year as the need for our services and programs increases. Families who come to us for help are never charged a dime.


VIP: How many people are expected to attend the event this year?

KM: Over the years we average close to 1,000 dinner guests and 850 guests who join us only for the concert.


VIP: Why should people in Jackson and West Tennessee support this event?

KM: The evening is a win-win for everyone. You’re guaranteed a fun night of great food, fellowship and entertainment all the while helping end the cycle of child abuse and heal families here in West Tennessee.


VIP: How are the monies used?

KM: The money that is raised goes back into our communities through the Center’s free services—things like therapy for children of abuse, parenting classes and child abuse prevention programs offered in area schools.


VIP: Tell me about the sponsorship levels for this event.

KM: Below are the sponsorship levels:

Platinum Table Sponsorship: $5,200. Includes premium seating for a table of eight, a full page ad in the program and being mentioned during the event.

Blue Table Sponsorship: $2,950. Includes second level seating for a table of eight and a half page ad in the program.

Suede Table Sponsorship: $1,950. Includes third level seating for a table of eight and mention in the program.

Circles of Hope Table Sponsorship: $1,500. Includes fourth level seating for a table of eight and mention in the program.


VIP: What is the cost of the concert tickets?

KM: Concert tickets are available through the Carl Perkins Civic Center Box Office. All concert tickets are $45. We’re also offering a “Me & Three” ticket package for $160. You may call the Box Office at the Civic Center at (731) 425-8587 Monday through Saturday.


VIP: How long have you been on the Carl Perkins Center board and what have you learned from your involvement with the CP Center?

KM: I joined the Board in 2012 and have learned a few people can make a big difference. It has also opened my eyes to just how many good people there are in West Tennessee.


VIP: You are on a leave of absence from being an anchor and executive producer at WBBJ-TV. How long have you been an employee at WBBJ-TV? What do you most enjoy about your work there?

KM: I have been at WBBJ, this time, since 2008. I also worked at the station after finishing college at Union University. I love being able to serve West Tennessee by providing information about what’s going on in our community, country and world.


VIP: Recently you and your husband, Tyreece Miller, had a baby boy. How has he changed your life and are you enjoying motherhood?

KM: Motherhood is the most wonderful, life-altering, exhilarating and exhausting experience of my life. It is a journey that can’t be explained but must be experienced and I’m so glad I am.


What To Know

Blue Suede Dinner & Auction
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Carl Perkins Civic Center
Caterering by Elegant Events
Entertainment by The Commodores

Doors Open: 5:30 pm
Dinner: 6:45 pm
Live Auction: 7:30 pm
The Commodores: 8:30 pm
Civic Center Box Office: (731) 425-8587 Monday-Saturday

Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse
Making a Real Difference…One Child, One Family at a Time
(731) 668-4000
Facebook: thecarlperkinscenter