Women’s History Month: General Manager Katie

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8), we sat down with some of the incredible women who make up the Parkhurst Dining team. We thank these women for sharing their authentic selves with us, and feel so honored to have them on our team.

What does International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month mean to you?  

To me, I feel like it’s just being united as women.  Getting the recognition to show how far we’ve come.  Celebrating the obstacles and inequalities we have overcome while planning what still can be done.  We’re moving in a positive direction, but we can still close the gap a bit.  

Who are the women that have had the most impact in your life?  

My Nanny – my maternal grandmother.  She is 94 and is definitely the matriarch of our family.  She keeps us together.  I very much look up to her, as a woman, a wife, a Christian, and a friend.  She embodies all the qualities I wish to attain someday.

What gives you the greatest amount of pride in your profession? 

Professionally, getting positive recognition for the team from the students – knowing that they’ve taken the time to let us know through a comment card or a letter of a great experience.  Feedback feels extra special from students.  When someone speaks up in a positive way, it can be really impactful.

Where do you get inspiration from, whether personally or professionally? 

My husband and I lost our daughter, Savannah, shortly after birth about 6 years ago.  We were informed around 24 weeks that she had short-ribbed polydactyly which was a fatal diagnosis.  We continued with the pregnancy and crammed as much love, parenting, and experiences as we could in a short 35 weeks.  Her birthday is coming up, and she completely changed my outlook on life.  She pushes me to be a better person.  I am so much more appreciative of everything – big and small.  I do everything I can to make her proud.

What advice would you give to someone new in your field? 

Always be true to yourself. If you’re not truly yourself, you can’t align with your company’s values – try applying them to your personal life, and vice versa. 

If you were a food, what would you be?  

Potato was the first thing that popped into my head – so many ways to do it. I love food, I love carbs. I feel like they are underestimated but their versatility makes them very adaptable to any dish!  Kind of like me!

What do you do when you need a confidence boost? 

Some self-reflection. The fall of 2020 was a tough time – I had a minor meltdown one night, and my husband reminded me that we’re always the most critical on ourselves. But you have to self-reflect a bit! Especially since we were in the middle of a pandemic –  you have to think of everything you’ve accomplished, not everything you haven’t. 

When do you feel most at home in your skin? 

When I’m with family, I’m very close with my family.  Family takes it all – the good and the bad.  

During stressful times, how do you lead? 

I’m learning to be calmer and to not react too quickly – take a few moments to breathe and pause and fully think through things before they go into action. I’ve been saying at our pre-services: we do important work, but we are not at an ER saving lives. Implement clear communication, don’t stress the small stuff – simple communication can ease a lot of the stresses that we all hold on to. 

You recently were recognized with the Extra Smile Award, an annual company-wide award which recognizes those who go above and beyond to support their colleagues. How do you go the extra mile? 

Be mindful to treat others how you’d like to be treated.  Your whole tone, demeanor, and approach is the reaction you will get back.  I always remind my team that everyone is fighting their own battle. I encourage them to reach out to guests and talk to them. Like, learn one new students’ name today! Every single person matters. When they use their name, it is so much more personal. Right before holiday break, a graduating student wrote us a letter. He was quiet, shy, and reserved in person – and he thanked us for the past 4 years and talked about the impact of the team’s friendly smiles. He stated that sometimes it changed his and his friends’ entire mood and day.  It may not seem like you’re doing something important, but a simple smile is so impactful.

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