Rachel Blackmon Bryars grew up in Birmingham, graduated from Briarwood High School, and has lived in Huntsville for the past six years after living away from the state for more than ten years.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in communication with a journalism focus from Palm Beach Atlantic University where she was an all-conference, all-region, all-American (hon. mention) varsity soccer player, editor-in-chief of the university newspaper, and a freelance reporter for the Palm Beach Post. While at PBA, Rachel received numerous academic and athletic awards and distinctions, including the Most Outstanding Communication Graduate award, the Women of Distinction scholarship, and various academic all-American lists.
Rachel began her career as a television reporter for the ABC affiliate in Richmond, Virginia. She then earned a master’s degree in communication with a political focus from The Johns Hopkins University, where she received an honors distinction on her experiment-based research into political polling. She has contributed news, features, sports and opinion articles in publications such as the Washington Post, Washington Examiner and various other D.C. area newspapers and online outlets and she is the former managing editor of Yellowhammer News. Her work has appeared in Alabama newspapers such as the Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register, Huntsville Times, Montgomery Advertiser, Dothan Eagle, and many more, and she is a frequent guest on Alabama talk radio.
Rachel is also managing partner of a communication consulting business serving a range of individual, small business, non-profit, and corporate clients and she has taught communication courses at several universities including the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) in Naples, Italy, and Barry University in South Florida.
Rachel is the producer of the podcast “Belle Curve”, which she co-hosts with two other women known for their involvement in Alabama politics and media, that focuses on life, work, culture, family, relationships, and business.
Rachel is married to J. Pepper Bryars and is the mother of five children who keep her very busy with their many school, athletic, and civic activities. She is the former motherhood ministry leader at her church, she serves on the advisory board for the largest YMCA in the state, and she is a frequent speaker.
Rachel has twice worn a tiara: in her wedding (it was the unfortunate style) and when she won the Miss Alabama Junior National Teenager title.
She was nearly a contestant on Survivor, receiving an invitation to join top finalists for challenges in Los Angeles, but had the good judgment to pass on going hungry and fighting with complete strangers on reality TV.
She once tried out for women’s full contact football and made the D.C. Divas team as the kicker, ultimately choosing to let her competitive streak lie low to focus on her then-newborn.
She never met a self-awareness test she didn't like and is currently fascinated by the Enneagram (she's a 9w1).