You never know where life will take you, and my dreams for an extraordinary life began long before I took my first jobs working as a deli clerk and a nurse’s assistant in an assisted living facility in a small town on the Palouse. After graduating from high school, I charged out into the world to see where life might take me. Turning down several sports scholarships at regional colleges and feeling out of sorts on what was next, I needed to see what else the world had to offer me. So, naturally, I fled to the east coast, breathing in the big city air where the opportunities were vast and lucrative, where the pace and lifestyle made it clear I needed to take my life where Iwanted it to go.
While reading the newspaper on the train to New York City from Connecticut about a year later, a front page story grabbed my eyes. A highly regarded business and family man—also the respected treasurer of a large synagogue in Connecticut—had succumbed to the pressures of his shiny, high-powered, fast-paced life and had made unauthorized “loans” to himself from the synagogue’s bank accounts. Loans that equalled hundreds of thousands of dollars. Loans, he called them, that he could not pay back in spite the best of intentions.
This man was my employer. The same man who had inspired me to pursue a larger than life existence. As he drove me to the airport several months later—days before his embezzlement trial was to begin— he apologized to me for his actions. “Don’t be ruled or driven by what youperceive to be an extraordinary life, Stephanie,” he said. “Reach for the stars while staying close to home—by staying close to what is in your heart. If you can do that, then you’ll experience an extraordinary life.”
I brought my new perspective and goals to Spokane—a city I had enjoyed visiting throughout my childhood—where opportunity and potential for success also seemed to support a deeper, truer connection to self, friends and family. Spokane has taught me that extraordinary lives are lived anywhere people are open to them, anytime people are driven to turn normal, ordinary circumstances into something special.
Our sister publication, Inland Business Catalyst—which is now found within the pages of Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living magazine—first grabbed my attention back in July of 2006. It was the issue debut of the20 Under 40 Awards feature. I was inspired to read about young movers and shakers who represented 20 great reasons to be proud of Spokane’s progress and future direction. The 20 stories shared in that issue helped validate my decision to land in Spokane. And next came the Women in Business Leadership Awards (featured in this issue) highlighting the women in our region who are the finest of examples of holding the world on their shoulders while making community, friends and family top priorities. What was more extraordinary than that, I mused.
As a freelance business writer way back then, I began contributing to Catalyst soon after that issue. My career path has woven me in and out magazines and other industries since then. I have been on all sides of business—from employee to employer—and nonprofits—from volunteer to executive director. And I was honored to be named a Catalyst 20 Under 40 professional in 2010 (during a time I was leading a nonprofit, and not associated with the magazine). I find inspiration in all of those around me, in this extraordinary community, full of extraordinary people.
Shining a light on ordinary lives lived extraordinarily through ambitious business practices and a dedication to make the Spokane region the best it can be, while valuing connections to friends, family, and all members of the community—and to celebrate the struggle and the glory along the way— is a task I manage with pride as a media and communications professional, as a community leader, as your editor-in-chief. We have a lot to be proud of in the fine cities of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, and I am honored to share many reasons with you in each issue of Spokane Coeur d’Alene Living magazine. I hope the inspiration finds its way into all you do, as it has—and continues to do—within me.