Mollie Ruf

Your Rowan Favorites

Place to Eat: La Cava, Palms Café
Outdoor Activity: Rowan County public parks
Event or Festival: Wine About Winter

Mollie Ruf

Miller Davis Agency, Director of Digital Services

Native of Kansas City, MO

Industry: Marketing

Mollie Ruf came to Rowan County 13 years ago, after having lived in Missouri and Florida, and she finds this a place of individual freedom. In keeping with the Rowan County slogan, Be an Original,™ Mollie finds that in Rowan County,  “you are only limited by your own self-imposed fears or doubts. Here, you can be who and what you want,” she says. “There is a place for everyone and every idea. Yes, we still live in the South, which is notorious for old ways of thinking, but Rowan is an anomaly. It’s a geographic pocket where old and new are celebrated. The past is acknowledged, and new ideas have room to grow and flourish.”

Mollie likes to “push herself outside her comfort zone,” so she was in her element, moving here in 2009 without knowing anyone, except her boyfriend, J.R. Kessler. And with no job. 

“My now husband moved to Rowan in 2007 to chase his dream to work in motorsports. Two years later I followed him once I graduated from Florida Southern College. It was a challenging time to find a job because of the recession, but I was able to establish myself by joining a community choir,” she says. “I have been able to trace every single career connection since then to the relationships and networking I did with the Salisbury-Rowan Choral Society. Now I am well established in this community, have an amazing group of ‘boss babe’ friends, and help lead the Rowan County Young Professionals group. 

“When we decided to move to a property with more acreage, there was no question that it had to be in Rowan County. The sense of belonging here and ease of forming friendships is too important. You can become a ‘local’ quickly without much effort. You will be embraced quickly if you want to be.”

Key Marketing Role

As Director of Digital Services at Miller Davis Agency, Mollie is in a key role of marketing tourism, economic development, and local businesses. “I have a passion for promoting local and bringing people together,” she says. She believes strongly in her adopted county and its people.

“The people are all so different,” she says. “I love belonging to many different social groups, as well as groups that are very eclectic. You can be as involved as you want to be here. There is no red tape or hurdles to jump when forming those ties that will want to keep you here for years upon years.”

Having lived in Central Florida and Western Missouri, Mollie says that “what sets Rowan County apart from the other places I have lived is the concentration of amenities and easy access to regional amenities. You can have that small-town feel while being able to still have access to arts and culture, foodie destinations, etc. The fact that we have 3 functioning performing arts venues, a full symphony orchestra, and 4 colleges in an area with our population size is unheard of! And if what you want we don’t have within Rowan’s borders, it’s not a far distance to access it. Plus, the geographic access gives you so many job opportunities… it’s a no brainer.

“I love how I can go into a local establishment and the employees or owners know me by name and/or I will run into several people I know. Since I don’t have family that live here, it makes me feel not so homesick.”

A favorite restaurant is LaCava, a place to relax, enjoy life, and savor the food. “We live in a fast-paced world, and this is a place where you are not in a hurry. It’s in a beautiful historic church and you feel like you’re in Italy.” She also enjoys the Palms Café for its comfort food. “If you’re a picky person, this is a great place. There are so many options and they’re all good.”

Their own land, with its pond and pastureland, is a favorite outdoor space for the couple and their two dogs, Snoopy and Peanut, as are all the public parks in Rowan County. “The landscape in Rowan County is beautiful,” she says.

‘Try New Things’

Wine About Winter, the annual wine tasting crawl promoted by Downtown Salisbury,  Inc., is her favorite event because she helped plan it in a prior job as Promotions Director of Downtown Salisbury. “It attracts people from all over and encourages people to go inside the businesses for wine tastings,” she says. “They see new places and try new things and step outside their comfort zone.”

Mollie sings in the choir and plays handbells at her church, Grace Lutheran, and is Chair of the Rowan Young Professionals sponsored by the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. She was featured as one of “Top People Under 40” in the Spirit of Rowan magazine, published annually by The Salisbury Post to promote the county.  

“I LOVE NETWORKING!” she says. “Having been someone who moved here and had zero friends or career connections, I have seen firsthand the value of networking. I encourage newcomers to get out there and try new things and join groups until you find your niche. Whether it be the Young Professionals group, a run club, church, a non-profit, or whatever interests you… you won’t feel alone for long.”

For newcomers considering life in Rowan County, this is her recommendation:

“Simply put, come visit. I have heard countless stories in the 13 years I’ve lived here of folks who came for a day or weekend trip and ended up moving here eventually because of what a positive mark Rowan left on them,” she says. “I didn’t choose Rowan, but I’m sure thankful that my now husband did.”

Your Rowan Favorites

Place to Eat: La Cava, Palms Café
Outdoor Activity: Rowan County public parks
Event or Festival: Wine About Winter