From the Beginning

My excitement on joining This Point Forward – a group committed to providing those contemplating retirement, reimagining, or a restart with access to information, resources, and assistance in planning and embarking on a new phase in their lives – has its roots in the adventures I have embraced my entire life.  While I have been fortunate to have built a great family, a strong business, and a large support network of friends and associates in Howard County, getting here has not been particularly straightforward or predictable. And, as I consider the possibility of retirement, the opportunities and associated obstacles are daunting.

My first big adventure was the decision to start university in Rome as a not-yet 17-year-old with no experience in Italian. Somehow, I found a way to make this challenge work, and identified a facility and fascination with other languages and cultures.  Extended studies in language, art, and culture required that I learn additional languages.  Even my first professional job – while studying in Salzburg – involved performing songs from the Sound of Music in French, German, and English on bus tours of sites made famous in the movie – while modestly accepting complements from tourists on my English skills. Upon returning home, I finished a US-undergraduate degree while doing graduate work and teaching French at another college.

Finding Where I Belong

Out in the real world, I found myself taking on work that interested me and led to the acquisition of new skills: representing small vintners in France for a US importer, crewing on Colorado River tours, serving as a change order coordinator for a commercial real estate developer, and developing a project at the Carter White House connecting information from various agencies into a central resource. Along the way, I discovered that the structure of data analysis and programming supported my evolving problem-solving approach – develop a big-picture context for the application of data to build viable alternative solutions and risk assessment protocols. So, I started taking classes in Information Management, Analysis, Programming, and System Design and was off in another direction as a Data Scientist – a field that was not even in the dictionary when I started my journey. After work with various agencies, I established my own consulting company as a Data Analyst and Technical Editor 32 years ago.

In the Community

As I was building my business, I was also growing my family of four children and saw education as a logical place to start volunteering my services and supporting my community. I served for 20 years on HCPSS advisory committees and PTAs, as Chair of the BOE’s Community Advisory Committee, and then three terms as an elected member of Board of Education. I now sit on the board of the school system’s Bright Minds Foundation and – as my children are grown – can now put more time assisting the local organizations supporting the arts, culture, history, and responsive government that make this community so strong. I am honored be the new President of the Howard County Historical Society and continue to serve on the boards of the Friends and Foundations of the Howard County Library System, the Howard County Arts Council, the Inner Arbor Trust. I am active with the League of Women Voters and the Women’s Giving Circle and continue to work on HCPSS advisory committee for the arts, world language, career/technology education, elementary and preschool curriculum, and apprenticeships. These strands come together to build a web that supports every demographic in our community and contribute to its future.

Looking Forward

Now, my husband has retired, and I am considering my own options and those for our future together. The workshops, panel discussions, and presentations on the This Point Forward schedule will allow me to contribute the lessons learned in my previous adventures.  I will also be able to learn from experts in the field of personal transition, retirement planning, self-assessment and analysis about the opportunities and obstacles likely to be encountered in moving forward.

Civic engagement has always been important to me and I’ve never used age or phase of life as a deterrent to how I’ve gotten engaged.  I am excited about opportunities I see in my present and the promise of the future.