Holly Stitt came to Jefferson City in 1999 to help Alliance Medical in Russellville with possible Y2K issues. She stayed there until she was managing most of the departments.
In 2011, the company was sold, and after staying on another year to make sure everything was working for the new business, Stitt decided a change needed to be made.
"Then it was, 'OK, what do I want to do when I grow up?" Stitt laughed. "I had been there for 15 years; my husband and I both worked there. We just looked at several different places and came back to Jefferson City, where we had lots of opportunities. It's a great place to be economically so we decided to stay and invest here."
In 2012, Holly and Nathan Stitt purchased a lot in the 600 block of East Capitol Avenue with a 30,000-square-foot facility. The couple runs software company Argosity out of the facility, doing things such as electronic textbooks for Rice University.
But the Stitts wanted to see how they could enhance the town with this 30,000 square feet of space.
For the last six years, Holly has been renovating the building, some of which became Avenue HQ, an event venue used now to showcase local art and artists of many fields.
"In 2013, Quinten Rice contacted us, and he was excited about what we could do with the building," Stitt said. "In January 2014, he came on board, and between the two of us, it's been a great team because he is the front person - I'm a behind-the-scenes person."
Q. Who has invested in you and your career?
A. "My husband and Quinten are my two biggest investors. Any endeavor I want to take on, my husband has supported me, even though they may not be an interest of his. Quinten is just able to come up with so many ideas. We pick each other up."
Q. What choices have you made to invest in yourself and your own success?
A. "Stepping outside my comfort zone. I'm shy by nature and have a hard time pushing out into groups, but I've done that here. I started attending a lot of meetings, city meetings. I'm heavily involved in the arts. It's still easy to hide behind my desk, but I have pushed myself. I work with Capital Arts. I just got appointed to the Jefferson City Cultural Arts Commission, which I'm really excited about. I still am handling the books and finances, like I did while I was at Alliance, but now I'm pushing out, and sometimes it's a scary place to be."
Q. Of what professional achievement are you most proud?
A. "Avenue HQ and what it has become in this community. It's not done yet. We still have 11,500 square feet of space to renovate, so only half of the building has been renovated. The amount of art that comes through there to the community in different aspects hit a different group of people. My passion is to bring art to as many people as possible because everybody needs art in their lives. They don't need to do it, but they need to have it."
Q. What do you see as the biggest issues facing women in the workplace?
A. "I have been in the position where men don't want to talk to women. I've been there where I've had to talk through other men just to get things done. And I've seen the reverse of this as well. I think whether you're a man or a woman, the thing is to work as a team to accomplish goals. For example, the Total Eclipse of the Park at Riverside Park during the total eclipse in August would not have happened without the team that we had."
Q. What drives you most in life and in your career?
A. "My passion to bring others to success. I love watching artists get to a point to where they feel confident about themselves, putting it out there and seeing that happen. I had to push myself to do that."
Q. What advice would you give to a woman entering the workforce?
A. "Be true to yourself. Find out who you are for yourself, and be true to that - because when you start doing things you think other people are wanting you to do, you tend to lose yourself, and if you lose that you lose any core-driven thing you might have. You need to be willing to step out and take risks in order to succeed to be the person you want to be because if you hide under that shell you'll never get there."
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