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Professional Background


How to create a life of purpose, meaning, and joy?  What unique contributions might I give the world?  How far can I take my natural gifts in art and music?  What great ideas might I contribute to our culture, given the tools and educational foundation?  These are questions that are in the forefront for me. 

In my life, I am seeking a balance of accomplishment and play, learning and joy, interconnectedness and independence, spirituality and intellect.  I'd like to lend my energy and skills to people and organizations with similar values.

My resume is available for download.  Click here to download in Microsoft Word format, and here for an Adobe PDF version.

Professional Background

Business Beginnings:  The School of Sun Sportswear

In 1983, a friend told me that the tee shirt company he worked for was hiring and I ought to give it a try. I interviewed and was offered a job on the spot for a warehouse position. The hiring manager was a charming young man who talked to me for two hours and toured me around the entire company, and to this day I think he hired me because he enjoyed flirting with me so much. He was later fired, in fact, for embezzlement. Not the most illustrious way to start my business career, but it makes for a funny story and worked out rather nicely in the long run (for me, anyway). Sun Sportswear was a small new business, and I joined them just as things were starting to get interesting.

Not long after I joined the company, Sun began establishing itself as a key supplier of printed tee shirts to the mass market retailers. The majority of Sun’s business (over 70%) was with three customers: Target, Wal-Mart, and Kmart. This retail business segment was experiencing explosive growth and Sun grew along with it. During the ten years I was there, the company grew from around $1 million to a $75 million enterprise and eventually went public. It was quite a ride.

The company had a can-do atmosphere and collective will, especially in the early years, to pull together to get the job done no matter what it took. I remember several coworkers and I sleeping in a pile of shirts after one particularly long day and getting up at the crack of dawn to do it again in order to make a shipping deadline. I was young and learning about business and found it fun and exciting. I loved caring about the business as a whole and throwing my efforts in with others who felt the same.

Over time, Sun served as a real-world school of business for me and I was able to soak up tons of skills and experience in a variety of departments and functions. I discovered that my capacity for and sheer joy in learning is enormous, and my rapidly progressive job history shows the result of that aptitude. I got the chance in that dynamic environment to prove my capabilities and was rewarded with regular opportunities to move up and ahead.

Starting in the warehouse picking and packing orders, I advanced through several departments and positions, culminating as assistant manager of licensing. I worked as shipping and inventory clerk and various distribution jobs in the warehouse, then moved into production as the screen tech lead, learning the technical aspects of the screen print production process. From there, I was promoted to customer service rep in the front office. I then stepped up to sample coordinator and merchandising assistant jobs in the merchandising department, including color and tech approving new designs. In 1990, the president of the company asked me to serve as his executive assistant. That position grew into a sales and merchandising specialist job encompassing a wide variety of sales and merchandising support responsibilities. As the licensing aspect of the company grew, I became more involved with that area, and finally was promoted to assistant manager of licensing.

Almost all of the positions I was promoted to were jobs created out of some arising new need as the company’s volume and scope grew. Management recognized and valued me as a person who they could trust to develop a position from scratch, and I was called on again and again to solve new challenges utilizing my extensive knowledge of the company as a whole.

Computers came into use more and more as my career progressed. I remember keeping shipping and inventory records by hand, in pencil, back in the day. Hey now, it wasn’t that long ago! But yes, by hand, and you can bet I got very speedy at ten key by touch. Then one day I got hold of a copy of Lotus 1-2-3 and discovered a whole new world called “spreadsheets.” I was absolutely smitten with the power and usefulness of all kinds of software. I immediately sought to discover more and more sophisticated ways to utilize the power of computers and software to maximize efficiency and service.

From that time through the present, I have been in a fairly constant state of learning and adaptation as new computer hardware and software was implemented, utilized, outgrown and replaced. I’m a highly intuitive and fast learner of any new software package, quickly finding the most efficient and effective uses to support the business function at hand.

In 1993, a restructuring shake-up resulted in the elimination of my position at Sun Sportswear.  Although offered another position at the company, I decided to consider that phase of my “education” complete.  The decision was made simpler by the generous severance package that included the opportunity to obtain career counseling.  At that time I was also glad for the chance to move back up to the north end of the city so that I and my daughter would be near my family. The time seemed right to seek new opportunity.

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Graduate SchoolPacific Trail and London Fog Industries

A gentleman who had been my boss and a vice president at Sun Sportswear had moved on to another local apparel company, Pacific Trail, and was very interested in bringing me on board to work with him there. Although the marketing position he wanted to create for me didn’t pan out, I learned that the company had a reputation of being a great place to work. I liked the product and the idea of working for a locally owned, family run business and decided to do whatever needed to be done to get my foot in the door. When a receptionist position came up, I took the job. Although I had to take a pretty painful cut in pay, I never regretted that decision. Pacific Trail was phase two of my business education, and provided still more opportunity for me to increase and refine my skills.

At Pacific Trail, I was quickly promoted from Receptionist to Merchandising Assistant.  That position was eliminated during a merger process, unfortunately, but I then applied for and won a job as a Sales Associate supporting the sales executive staff. I enjoyed the sales support role very much, especially solving problems and fulfilling customer needs. I decided that I wanted our customers to experience a phone call from me as they best part of their day, and succeeded in developing great relationships that served the company well and were very enjoyable for me. When another corporate restructuring resulted in the need to create a new customer service department, I converted from Sales Associate to Customer Service Rep and continued to develop my expertise in customer relations and support, as well as maintaining close ties with sales executives.

The company grew in volume, and the customer service department of course grew to support the increased business.  A new supervisory position was created for me after a little over a year to oversee expanding customer service department operations. That position was subsequently increased in scope and responsibility to Manager of Customer Service, and I stepped into the role of department head, reporting to the Chief Operations Officer.

As a head of customer service, I continued to refine my sales and customer support skills and add new ones, including departmental budgeting, ERP systems implementation, interviewing, performance reviews, policy development, disciplinary techniques, logistics, retailer compliance measures, presenting at sales meetings, departmental liaison, project management and the implementation and growth of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), to name a few.  During my tenure as department head, we went through a number of major upheavals including the purchase and and assimilation of new brands and inventories, moving and upgrading distribution centers, and implementing new corporate-wide systems.


Over the course of my ten years with the company, Pacific Trail merged with London Fog and went through several additional major ownership and corporate restructurings, including the company's purchase by a home fashions company shortly before my departure.  I sensed that I had completed the learning that was best for me in that environment.  I longed for a work that would help people transform their lives, and that contributed to a shift in our culture that would better support the needs of all people.  I wanted to make a difference in the world.  It was time to move into a new phase of life.

In Search of a Life of Purpose
:  Compassionate Communication and Back to School

In October 2004, I left the company to develop a private practice with my partner, Conal Elliott. We teach classes at local churches, lead practice groups, and work with private clients in mediation, coaching and teaching modes. I have personally experienced deep transformation using the principles we teach, called Compassionate Communication. Our practice is based on the work of Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD, author of Nonviolent Communication; A Language of Life, and is also called Nonviolent Communication or NVC. Compassionate Communication is both a consciousness and a concrete model for speaking and listening that helps create and nurture connection with others.  This quality of connection enables and inspires others to contribute to our well being with clarity and heart.  It also helps us to feel inspired to contribute to others out of a joyful desire to give.  For more information on this work, please visit our site,

In addition to building our practice, I began attending Shoreline Community College beginning in Fall 2006.  I have so many interests, the challenge for me is narrowing down my focus, and I am currently planning to pursue both art/design and music degrees.  I'm just getting started with the formal process of higher education, and plan to obtain at least one Bachelor's degree at the minimum, transferring to a university after earning an AAS.  I certainly recognize that with needing to work it will likely take much longer than four years to reach my goal.  I began with Algebra, Music Theory and Class Piano, achieving a 3.92 GPA my first quarter.  My ultimate dream is to work as a designer and artist in multiple mediums, including digital, and also gain advanced skills to support me in expanding my musical performance activities.  Double major?  Hmmm...

Through the end of October 2006, I filled in as Ministers' Assistant at Seattle Unity Church while the real gal was away on medical leave.  I loved the opportunity to work with folks I know and enjoy, as well as have the ability to work part time and go to school.  I was one busy pup working 30 hours a week and going to school full time.  Phew!  I'm grateful for all that I got to learn, contribute, and the relationships I was able to deepen during my work there.

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I have had the great fortune in my career to work for some folks I deeply admire and respect.  They are people who challenged me and allowed me to grow and make mistakes and then stood back to let me handle them ("Geez, Holly, that's a problem you've made for yourself there, isn't it?  I'll be interested to see how you fix that!").  They functioned as both business and personal mentors, and I have great admiration for their ethics, talent, and accomplishment.  Thanks, Jeanne, Barry and Peter.  I have benefited from my association with each of you more than I know how to express.

These three former bosses have agreed to serve as my professional references, for which I am proud and grateful.  For information on how to reach them, please contact me directly.


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