Reflections for Women’s History Month: Leadership in the Unexpected

Reflections for Women’s History Month: Leadership in the Unexpected

Social media has been fun lately. And no, unlike other times I may have uttered this phrase, I don’t mean that sarcastically! The reason? Instead of doom scrolling, I’ve been boon scrolling—a term that describes the joy felt when seeing posts that promote others.

Those recent, positive posts have been about Women’s History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions women have made over the course of history. In addition, the first full week of the month was Women in Construction Week and included International Women’s Day. So, it has been fun and fulfilling to see my connections and their companies expressing appreciation for their colleagues, as well as honoring great women throughout history.

As I’ve reflected on the groundbreakers and trailblazers who created access and opportunity, I’ve also been thinking about women in my life and how they’ve influenced my path in A/E/C marketing. For example, when I was an early 20-something marketing coordinator, my then-boss, Cassandra Brouillette, told me about SMPS and supported my membership. A couple of weeks later, Patricia Cox (who, at the time, was serving as SMPS Kansas City president-elect) invited me to lunch and encouraged me to get involved with the chapter. A few years later, Karen Courtney, AIA, FSMPS, (then SMPS president-elect) hired me. She empowered me to follow my passion for writing. She encouraged me to continue pursuing volunteer and leadership opportunities in SMPS Indiana. And she advocated for my attendance at the SMPS annual conference. In these instances and countless others, supportive women have given me the tools and confidence to continually build my professional path.

But the first woman to inspire me was my mother … and she did so without realizing it.

When I was 8 years old, my parents divorced after 24 years of marriage. And my mom—who used to vacuum around me while I watched Sesame Street after kindergarten—re-entered the workforce. After borrowing a typewriter to brush up on her high school typing skills, Mom started working as a secretary at the local university, a career that would later allow me to go to college because the tuition was half price. To keep the home my sisters and I grew up in, Mom also took on side gigs to pay the bills, like ironing clothes for people and renting out extra rooms in our house. She pushed past her fear of public speaking to sell Home Interiors, a company that was big in the 1980s. And I saw her negotiate with guys selling the wood that heated our home, deal with maintenance and repairs, and navigate the antics and angst involved when raising four daughters.

All the while, I watched my mother deal with challenges with grit, love, and the desire to continuously learn and make life better for others, which—to me—are foundational characteristics of a leader. So please join me in raising a grateful glass to the influential women who have inspired and opened doors for others, whether through acts of intention or by simply being their incredible selves.

Happy Women’s History Month!


Article written by SMPS President Holly Bolton, FSMPS, CPSM, who is owner of 3chord Marketing. She can be reached at

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