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Katie Riggs

Katie Leard Riggs is allergic to the half-measure. With each venture, she gives her whole self—with no thought of turning back, no consideration of giving up.

While living in Delaware and working in her first career as a corporate buyer, Katie knew she wanted something different. For quite some time, she’d developed a desire to return to the world of marketing and advertising. So, she created a spreadsheet and began applying to open listings all over the country. In total, she submitted her resume to over a hundred positions.

In the midst of this stream of cold-emailing and cover letters, her brother, then a resident of Saint Louis, suggested she apply to agencies headquartered in the city. Fortunately for us, Paradowski made the list. 

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Weeks later, her phone rang. It was Susie from Paradowski inquiring about a potential interview. There was discussion of following phone interviews, but as “chance” would have it, Katie was planning on visiting her brother in a few days and could totally stop by the office while in town.

In truth, this was a complete fabrication. 

Prior to the conversation, no such visit had been scheduled with her brother. She’d obviously love to see him but the interview was the only reason for her travel. So, she packed up everything she could fit into her Honda CRV and began the over 900 mile journey to Webster Groves, Missouri.  

Her car tells the story of her journey across the country. Sporting a bumper sticker of the Maryland flag-printed crab, Delaware license plates and plenty of Ohio State bumper stickers.

Ultimately, she would never return to that apartment in Delaware. A few weeks later her parents drove the rest of her belongings west to her new place, in a new city, to establish her new career at Paradowski. In the mind of Ms. Leard, there was no backup plan, no plan B. Why bother waiting to pack? This had to work.

This story offers a fitting description of Katie. ‘Fearless’ is an overused word but with her, it seems to hold true. Katie possesses a quiet self-confidence, appears unshaken in the face of challenge, and acts as a natural leader.    

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Her former field hockey coach remarked at this continuous drive by expressing sympathy for her opponents—feeling sorry for anyone having to “keep up with Katie.” To make her even more impressive, one can imagine that those with such focus and ambition often fall victim to a lack of humility. Not so in this case. As her friends and coworkers can attest, the confidence she carries is not accompanied by an inflated ego or self-importance.

Being the daughter of a Naval test pilot, she spent a portion of her childhood moving around the U.S., and the world, with stops in California, Japan, Georgia, and Maryland. Surely these exciting and evolving settings helped her forge the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. One might say because of this, Katie has a much more adventurous spirit than most—not afraid of a new city, a new life or the beginning of the next chapter. 

Thus far, Katie has adopted a sports team wherever she moves. A lifelong Ravens fan, she developed an affinity for the Eagles while living in the outskirts of Philadelphia, and now supports the Falcons while living in Atlanta with her boyfriend, Jeff. But this evolving allegiance has not extended to college football. THE Ohio State Buckeyes enjoy her unwavering support. Her father, grandfather, and a considerable portion of her extended family have attended the university. The Leard’s are a Buckeye family through and through. Speaking of “that state up north” would not be a welcome topic of conversation in this otherwise welcoming clan. Wherever she goes though, Katie carries her Maryland roots in her love of crabcakes and football.

In addition to a national title, The Ohio State has made an even more consequential contribution to Katie’s life in recent years. After first meeting at a bar in Nashville, a fellow patron named Jeff was also a Buckeyes fan and, after dating for some time, suggested they attend a game together. Katie found herself driving to Columbus with this man (and has now found herself doing so year after year). Apparently the cliche has merit, “Ohio is for lovers.” 

When speaking of her family, an outpouring of respect and admiration emerges. She appreciates the sacrifice and support of her parents and refers to both of her brothers with great reverence—great minds to contend with. Having never met them, but knowing Katie, it’s hard to believe that’s the truth. One can imagine they’re trying to keep up with her just like the rest of us. Good luck to us all.

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Her mother one of ten siblings and father one of eleven, annual holiday migrations back to the Ohio heartland meant big family parties and spending time with all the cousins.