Family Ties

Family Ties: A/E/C Marketers at Work

It’s not often that we discover two SMPS members who are related. But when we do, we love learning more about them and the role they’ve played in each other’s lives and careers. In Family Ties and in honor of Thanksgiving, we sat down with SMPS members Julie Shaffer, CPSM, of Shaffer Creative and her daughter Katie Lippe who works for Dunaway Associates. Both members of SMPS Forth Worth, they took time out of their busy schedules to chat with SMPS headquarters in Alexandria, VA.

Can you tell us a little about your career and your current role?

Julie: After graduating with a degree in Communications from the University of Texas at Arlington, I started working for an engineering firm. It was 2001, and I entered the industry as a freelance graphic designer. Over the next 10 years, my role transformed from graphic designer to marketing coordinator and finally creative director before leaving the corporate world to start my own firm. I realized it was time to dedicate more time to my school-aged children. My career has expanded in the marketing field to also include professional photography and marketing and software certification. I’ve found that I love providing hands-on learning for marketing teams with a focus on efficiency.

Katie: I have a bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a certificate in International Business from Texas Tech University. I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, where I learned to experience life outside of my comfort zone. In my current role at work, I spend much of my time working on proposals. I’ve also attended tradeshows and seminars, and I’m working to expand my knowledge of Adobe software in programs like InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator.

Did your mom play a role in your chosen field and, if so, how?

Katie: Yes, growing up, I watched what she was doing, and it piqued my interest. After some exposure to the field, I fell in love.

What qualities does your daughter possess that make her a great marketer?

Julie: Katie has a great work ethic. She is so positive and a joy to be around. Her warm and genuine charm is reflected in her passion for her work and her firm. She does her absolute best on every project she tackles.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given during your career?

Julie: Early in my career, when Katie and her brother were in elementary school, I struggled with work/life balance. One evening, I felt overloaded at work, but Katie had a play at school. I was considering missing her production, and one of my seasoned co-workers said, “You will always have work that needs to be done, and this moment will soon be forgotten. But you will never have this moment with your daughter again. Here, your role as a marketer is replaceable, but your role as a mother is not.” I was profoundly impacted by her words. Since then, I have been driven to work hard, but balance my life at home. And, yes, I went to Katie’s play.

Katie: My mom has encouraged me to extend my learning and marketing skills in order to be a successful marketer. This includes increasing my proficiency in Adobe software and attending SMPS programs to learn additional areas of the industry. My boss, Pam Conine, CPSM, has encouraged me to use my positive, outgoing personality to benefit our firm. I recently had the opportunity to represent our marketing team at the Texas Municipal League Conference and work side-by-side with technical staff in a client-focused environment. It was exciting … and exhausting.

What advice would you give your daughter now as she starts her career? And what advice five years into her career?

Julie: Work hard (but with balance), have a good attitude, and never stop learning. Five years from now, when you start to feel beat down by demanding deadlines, remember that what we do is for the greater good. We play a role in developing the built environment around us so work hard, have a good attitude, and never stop learning.

What advice would you give your mom based on your life experiences?

Katie: You should do one thing a day that scares you.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Katie: Playing pool, hanging out with friends, or working through a sudoku puzzle.

Julie: I love photography, travel, and spending time with friends and family.

What three adjectives would you use to describe your mom?

Katie: Detail-oriented, peacemaker, innovative.

What three adjectives would you use to describe your daughter?

Julie: Confident, vibrant, personable.

Since we’re about to celebrate Thanksgiving, could you each share one of your favorite holiday memories with our readers?

Julie: It involves my favorite things: family and traveling. My first year as a single mom, the rest of my family was traveling to Colorado to visit my sister. I couldn’t afford to fly all three of us, nor could I take off that much time from work to drive. My brother-in-law, who works for an airline, said we could try to fly standby Christmas morning. The first flight was fully booked, and, as we watched the gate area empty as people boarded, I knew we would never make it, not with three of us. Then, a miracle happened. Our name was called, and we flew to Denver to spend a wonderful white Christmas together.

Katie: When I was 14, my mom got remarried to Rick. Our first Christmas after mom married Rick, we went to our dad’s on Christmas Eve, as was always the tradition. Rick’s family also celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve, so we knew we would miss it. A few days later, we went to Rick’s parent’s house, and they surprised us with giant stockings full of gifts and wrapped presents from everyone. Even though we couldn’t celebrate with them, they still included us. For the first time, I felt truly blessed and part of this new extended family.


Do you have a story to share or would like to recommend an SMPS member to be interviewed? If so, contact Linda Smolkin at SMPS. She can be reached at

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