If you turn on the TV and hear a cheerful female voice discussing variable speed limits and traffic conditions, you already know how Natalie Dale brings subjects to life that – let's face it – aren't always the most exciting. As the spokeswoman for Georgia's Department of Transportation, Dale acts as the translator between the organization's engineers and Atlantans across the city. Though she didn't exactly grow up with a passion for transportation, her broadcasting degree, diverse political experience and bubbly personality made her the perfect woman for the job. Dale also spent six years cheering for the Atlanta Falcons and has even appeared on two national game shows – if anyone can perk up traffic talk, it's her.
What did your career look like before you joined Georgia DOT?
I moved to Atlanta right after I graduated from Auburn. I took an internship at CNN, and after that, I worked in Governor Sonny Perdue's office for three years. After that I moved to DC to work as the communications director for the National Distilled Spirits Council. That was great – I got to travel internationally to promote bourbon! When I came back to Atlanta in 2010, I took a job as deputy director for the State Senate Office, working with all the senators to organize their press and write press releases.
How did those experiences prepare you to be the spokeswoman for Georgia DOT?
In the position in the senate, I had to know every single issue inside and out. One day I wrote pro something, and the next day against it – I really had to look at every angle of every issue. So when I took the job at DOT, I joked that I would finally get one topic. I could have not been more wrong! What I thought was going to be one subject is far deeper and more complex than I ever imagined.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There is no typical day. You can't just get up and brush your hair – I will get calls from various news stations and do several interviews. I generally know our priorities for the week, but I never know what topics I may need to explain or discuss that day.
Though the infamous Snow Jam of 2014 brought a lot of negative attention, what positives came out of it?
We are now working very closely with FEMA, state patrol and Georgia National Guard to invest in better solutions. For example, we are bringing in eight more salt trucks so each doesn't have to focus on such a big area. Plus, everyone is so eager to be helpful in times like that. A lot of our HERO units and our first responders worked doubles and stayed on to help people get food and gas. I don't think enough is said about them.
What are your favorite workouts?
I cheered for the Falcons for six years. We had trainers and memberships to LA Fitness, so I went to Spin classes, CrossFit classes and others. I love Blast, and I love FlyBarre, which I still do a few times a week.
Tell us about your experiences on the game shows "Minute to Win It" and "Hollywood Game Night."
When "Minute to Win It" came to Atlanta, they called the Falcons and said they needed contestants. I went and did that show to pay for my wedding, actually. Then a few years later, I got contacted by the same group. They said, "Is there anything else you would be good at?" I like trivia, and I know a lot of pop culture stuff, so I ended up on "Hollywood Game Night." It was awesome! It was the coolest show.
What's family life like for you in Atlanta?
My husband and I are big foodies, and we're always down to try new restaurants. I really like True Food Kitchen, and Noche in Brookhaven has become our Cheers. I don't think Atlanta gets the credit it deserves for its food!