For this week’s segment of Woman Wednesday, AY About You sits down with Katherine Holmstrom, Senior Project Manager at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
Holmstrom was born and raised in DeWitt, where her family has operated an agricultural aviation business for more than 70 years.
“I started working at the business when I was 14 and spent every summer working alongside my grandpa, dad and brother until I graduated college from Arkansas State University with a degree in journalism and a minor in agriculture business.”
Holmstrom’s first job out of college was working for U.S. Congressman Robert Marion Berry.
“I was an assistant project manager and a community development liaison, and traveled across the 26 counties of the First Congressional District,” Holmstrom says. “After the congressman retired in 2010, I started working as a regional manager for community development at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). I held this role for two years before transitioning to my current role as a project manager for business development. Now, I’m responsible for facilitating the growth of both new and expanding companies in Arkansas. I’ve had the pleasure of working with companies such as Amazon, Lockheed Martin, Carvana, Tyson, Walmart, Mars Petcare, Aerojet Rocketdyne, SAF Holland, and Nice-Pak to help them expand or locate within the state. I love Arkansas, and I love getting to spend my days highlighting hard-working Arkansans and all the wonderful things that are happening here.”
Holmstrom lives with her husband, Gabe, in a historic home in downtown Little Rock with their 7-year-old son, Gus, and dog, Rex Thunder. In Holmstrom’s spare time, she enjoys running, “attempting” to garden, boating on the Arkansas River, hanging out at her family flying service, riding the ranger on her uncle’s farm, listening to Willie Nelson, and traveling as often as she can.
We asked Holmstrom what it means to her to be a woman.
“To me, being a woman means being kind, compassionate, supportive, thoughtful, incredibly detailed and a little strong-willed — I get it from my momma,” she says. “I think all these qualities have made me successful in my career and helped me find my stride as a working mom.”
Holmstrom explains the challenges that she has faced in her career as a woman.
“Thankfully, for the most part, I have been surrounded by male colleagues that respect my opinion, support my decisions, and encourage me daily,” she says. “But, just like many women that you have highlighted before, I often find myself being the only female in the room. Since my first eight years of the family flying service involved working with only men, this does not bother me much. However, when men don’t pay attention to what I have to say due to my gender, discount my opinion because of my hair color, or feel the need to call me ‘sweetie,’ — well that’s when I really try to take the high road by assuming that their mamas taught them better, and would be very disappointed in their actions.”
Holmstrom offers a word of advice for the women and girls who might read this article.
“Speak up, ask questions, be confident, and always go the extra mile,” she says.