From One Boss To Another: Merilyn Gove’s Story
Luna Brand Management opened its doors in 2015, but some could say that the seed was planted in 1963 when Diamando “Merilyn” Bochos was born. Who is Merilyn Bochos, now Gove? None other than the expert Accounting Specialist on the Luna team, and more importantly, the rockstar mother of our fearless leader, Christina England.
Merilyn was born on the island of Cyprus, and as a natural extrovert, began her studies at the Academy of Languages learning Greek, English, and French. By sixth grade, she had mastered the languages and began to study Italian. “I dreamt of being that person in the background with headphones translating speeches from the President of Nairobi,” jokes Gove, “that was the goal I was aiming for – working for the United Nations, and I immediately got to work.” After graduating at the top of her class, Gove accepted a scholarship to a college in Paris (Sorbonne III), where she studied for two years before suffering an accident resulting in a broken leg. She returned to Greece to be closer to family to recover & heal. There, she met her husband, a military fireman stationed in England, who happened to be in Greece temporarily. “Neither of us was supposed to be in Greece at that time,” says Gove, “it was meant to be. We met, and twenty-eight days later, we were married. We are still just as in love thirty-four years later.”
At twenty-three, Merilyn Gove and her husband moved to New York City (her first time living in the States), where she got a job working at a front desk in customer relations. Fast forward a bit; Gove realized she was pregnant with Christina, prompting the happy couple to move to Germany. “We wanted to be a bit closer to Greece so that we could fly home at a moment’s notice,” says Gove, “After Christina was born, I wanted to be home with my daughter. I was so fortunate to spend the first 3 years of her life with her.” In an effort to then blend career and motherhood at the family’s newest duty station in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Gove took a job working as a cashier at an Air Force club (country club). In 3 short years in ND, Gove worked her way up from a Cashier to a Front Office Manager while also managing her entire household while her husband, Matthew, was deployed to Korea for a year. The family again relocated to Maryland, where Merilyn continued her experience in the upper hospitality & protocol industry, serving Military Officers, Generals, and even helping prepare for a Presidential visit. Merilyn continued to hold down her domestic responsibilities as her husband attended schools across the country while learning the trade of his new career. It was upon the family’s final station in Texas where Merilyn was able to fully reach her potential. After years of unwavering support as a military wife, it was now her time to climb the ranks. Fueled by unwavering determination and drive, Merilyn flourished.
Merilyn Gove went on to become the first female to ever manage two Air Force clubs, without a college degree, serving the military for an additional 11 years working 70-80 hr work weeks. As the years progressed, the accolades kept pouring in. Merilyn is even featured in 4-star General Steven Lorenz’s book Lorenz on Leadership citing “She is a tenacious leader and the fuel that energizes one of the Air Force’s greatest base club systems. What distinguishes Merilyn – besides being five-feet tall – and makes her unparalleled in her career field are several characteristics I have personally observed in my tenure as the AETC commander…She is driven by the goal of excellence and top performance in her craft and is fast approaching the no. 1 position.”
“I am a very hard worker and was promoted quickly, but when my grandson was born, I felt a new level of peace. I’ve been where no one has been before, and I achieved what I wanted in my career, paid for my daughters’ education, and watched her fall in love and get married. I wanted to raise my grandkids, and seven years later, we have the most incredible bond, so I have no regrets. Many of my employees could not fathom how I worked so hard and gave it up so fast for my family. I had two clubs I managed, overseeing as many as 100 employees at a time, and I traded in all of that for my grandkids. I am so lucky to share my culture with them and teach them languages. The transition was hard; I went from being needed and respected as an authority figure to changing diapers, but it was worth it for me.”
So what is it like to parent an entrepreneur? Could she see that spark in young Christina? Are leaders born with that little extra something? “Christina was a perfect kid,” says Gove, “That was one of the reasons we never had more children. People would wonder how it was possible that she was such a good kid. We raised her strictly, but I was never embarrassed to take her anywhere. She never threw tantrums, I never had to repeat myself from first grade until the day she graduated high school. Both her father and I are overachievers, and we taught Christina that if you reach for the stars, you will grab one. Nothing is impossible if you work hard. Never limit yourself based on other people’s expectations of you. I am not surprised by her success, and I know she will only continue to grow in the years to come.”
Every business across the country has faced adversity during the past few months, and Luna Brand Management is no different. What do we have that others may not? A strong leader who refuses to give up on her team. “I am beyond proud of how she has treated the Luna team during the COVID crisis,” says the proud mother, “I run the books, I watched the numbers drop. However, her main concern was keeping her team employed. I am in awe of her, and I now know that there is no way this business will fail, because she will never allow that. Luna will be here for years and years to come. It’s been incredible watching her grow. When I was in my career, I always put the customers first and the employees second. Christina puts her team first. She understands that without amazing people, there would be no customers. There is a difference in dynamics and approach between the two of us, and it is inspiring to watch. She’s thirty-one years old, but she’s still my baby to me.”
In her life, Merilyn Gove has earned a record-shattering career, a beautiful, loving family, and an influential legacy, but what does success mean to her? “You can buy the nicest house or newest car, but everything can be taken away from you in seconds,” says Gove, “the most important thing, especially now, is that we all stay healthy. When you die, money and cars don’t matter. How did you transform the people that you met? What legacy are you leaving behind you? Did you make the people around you proud?”
One thing is undoubtedly true, and that is that Merilyn Gove has made the people around her proud. Whether she is helping to raise her two beautiful grandchildren, Lucas and Lana, or supporting the team of Luna Brand Management, Gove’s legacy is secured. If you don’t believe us, take it from her daughter. “As a child, you dream of giving back to your parents and supporting them the way they support you,” says Christina England, CEO of Luna Brand Management, “Working with my mom is my beginning attempt at that. I always admired her business acumen as a child, so working with her when I was grown was a no-brainer. She’s the ultimate addition to Luna, as dedicated and organized as they come, and the type of person you want in your corner to help you build an empire. She puts forth her all into all she does; why wouldn’t I want that example as close to me as possible?”
Merilyn, your Luna family thanks you for your wisdom, support, experience, positivity, and laughter. Here’s to many more years together!