Photography by Brandi Stage Portraiture
Vicki Rosetti-Applewhite is constantly asking “why.”
She’s especially curious about what motivates people, what keeps them up at night and what problems they’re struggling to solve.
“I am a helper and a fixer,” says the owner of Core Strategies, a sales consultancy firm, “so solution-based selling comes fairly naturally to me.”
In her early years, Rosetti-Applewhite says she was driven by ambition, comparison — “all the unhealthy things.” Now, she’s most concerned with being a good steward of her blessings and making everything she’s involved in better.
One thing she’s learned that she wants to tell other women: “You don’t need permission to pursue a dream or a goal.”
“The moment you give that power to someone, you are limiting yourself,” she says. “Women should also give one another much more grace. Everything is not equally important. Pick what matters, and stick with that. Stuck? Pick the next right thing to do … again, and again.”
That strategy has served Rosetti-Applewhite well throughout her life and career, which began in Biloxi — where she attended public schools and went on to briefly attend the University of Alabama. Upon returning home, she worked retail and sought a Monday-through-Friday job with regular hours — a search that landed her in the Sun Herald’s classified phone room.
“Through the grace of my supervisor, Laraine, I worked in the phone room for a little over a year before moving to outside sales,” Rosetti-Applewhite recalls. “Fifteen years, five titles and one degree from USM later, I was vice president of sales — once again through the grace of those who believed in me and promoted me.”
She flipped houses on the side until she lost her own home in Hurricane Katrina — one of the most pivotal moments of her life.
“I was grateful for the volunteers who sustained us, grateful to have a place to live after losing my home, grateful that enough of my home remained so that my wind insurance paid, grateful for the government supplying grant money to close the gap — just grateful,” she says. “In hindsight, God knew I didn’t need that house.”
During that difficult period, career opportunity knocked, and Rosetti-Applewhite changed companies and became the vice president of the Press-Register in Mobile. In 2010, Advance formed Alabama Media Group, combining the Press-Register, The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and AL.com under one president; Rosetti-Applewhite became vice president of sales and strategy.
After serving under three presidents, in an environment in which trust was lacking and everyone seemed to be fighting for survival, she realized in 2018 that she’d lost a sense of purpose in her job. Simultaneously, her husband, Roger, lost his mother and son within the span of a few months.
“One morning, after a five-hour commute that began at 4 a.m. to make a 9 a.m. meeting that ended up being canceled, I walked into my boss’s office and said, ‘I am in the wrong place, at the wrong time, talking to the wrong people about the wrong topics,’” Rosetti- Applewhite recalls. “We agreed I would be gone by the end of the month.”
She took a year off, and with her mind free to slow down, she began to dream again. She chose a church and was baptized, putting faith at the center of her life. She started her own consulting firm advising business-to-business companies on sales strategy and execution. She read the Bible — twice — which remains an integral part of her daily routine.
“Every day, I begin with time in the Word,” Rosetti-Applewhite says. “If I need inspiration, or if I have a problem to solve, or a concern, I ask God to speak to me through the text. I have become more peaceful and patient, so remaining focused and being positive is easier.”
She avoids watching too much television news and prioritizes exercise. She makes time for typical chores between client meetings and her many volunteer obligations, which include chairing a mission team at her church.
Todd Trenchard, executive director of the Bacot McCarty Foundation, has known Rosetti-Applewhite since her Sun Herald days and calls her an invaluable board member and confidant.
“Her skillset is on another level, and her abilities to lead and take charge of any project are without peer,” he says. “Simply, there are few, if any, who possess such a wide array of professional attributes as Vicki.”
Besides helping turn the Bacot McCarty Foundation into a Coast-wide entity, Trenchard says, Rosetti-Applewhite has helped organizations like the Walter Anderson Museum of Art rise to another level, been an invaluable proponent for the Community Care Network and championed Chamber of Commerce projects — all while becoming one of the region’s most successful female leaders.
“She is a role model because of her obvious professional success and because of her faith and God-centered beliefs,” he says. “She is truly the epitome of leadership and would be one of the first people I would think of to lead, direct or suggest the best course of action on any project.”
Rosetti-Applewhite’s favorite volunteer role is serving in the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, which allows her to be a voice for abused and neglected children. She professes a passion for giving people a hand up and helping others help themselves.
“More people than we realize are one bad decision or one crisis away from being without a home, or without food security,” she says. “Working to systemically end those risks is important to me.”
‘YOU ONLY GO AROUND ONCE’
Rosetti-Applewhite considers herself lucky to have entered adulthood debt free, and during her time at the Sun Herald, she became well versed in the value of saving through a 401K and contributing to worthy causes. Everyone has something to give, she believes, whether that’s time, treasure, talent or prayer.
“With regard to influence, I wish I had realized how much I had, and how I could have used it better,” she says.
While planning for the unplanned is important, Rosetti- Applewhite maintains that if you do what you love, work is never “work,” and retirement takes on a different hue.
“I can’t really comment about the financial mistakes of others, because I have made a lot of them myself,” she says. “But at the end of the day, you only go around once – so help that person now, take the trip — and, occasionally, buy the shoes.”