Inspiration with a Heaping of Gratitude

Four Leaders Share from the Heart

Here it is—autumn. It could be said that September and October are simply precursors to the real star of the show. September may herald autumn with a few falling leaves and tons of weddings; October is flashy-autumn, with its hayrides and bonfires, pumpkins and Halloween—and more weddings; but what we're really longing for is November! November with its last of the falling leaves, chill in the air and gentle manner. This is the month, before the holiday rush, when we begin to feel settled. November encourages us to consider our blessings. It inspires us to reflect. It's said that gratitude can actually alter your physiology; that act of conscious gratitude can make you happier and more content. Read on to see who inspires our neighbors. With that inspiration comes gratitude for shared stories and encouragement, for laughter and learning, and for acts of service and commitment.

Sue Hough, Octavo Designs

Sue Hough is the founder and creative director of the downtown Frederick business Octavo Designs, a web-development and marketing firm that offers both print and interactive marketing services. Having founded the company in 2000, Sue has grown her business into the nationally recognized graphic studio it is today.

My Girl Squad

Standing outside her office under a beautiful blue sky, Sue Hough says she is grateful for many things, but what comes instantly to mind for her is her girl squad.

“Sharon Riser, Jennifer Gerlock, Tiffany Ahalt and Jasmine Sneed are the ones who truly inspire me,” Sue says.

She met her squad through business and volunteerism, and they all joined together in friendship.

Sue continues, “As an entrepreneur, it’s hard to have people to talk to, and having other women in business makes it easier. They are a wonderful group of talented ladies, rockstars at what they do. If they see a need in the community, their response is, 'How can I help?' Their big hearts inspire me with all that they do for Frederick, for their families and for me. They are both clients and dear friends. We do business, hang out, volunteer and support each other. We laugh; we cry; we enjoy true friendship.”

Rick Weldon, President and CEO of the Frederick Chamber of Commerce

Rick Weldon has been with the Chamber of Commerce for more than seven years and says it's a very fulfilling thing to help small businesses get bigger. He has worn a few professional hats during his life; however, between his career with the Navy, his two terms as delegate for Maryland's House of Delegates and his current position as CEO and president of the Chamber of Commerce, Rick seems most proud of his "job" as a grandfather to his five grandsons.

Previous Generous Generations

In his office at the Chamber of Commerce, Rick Weldon comes alive as he speaks of the previous generations of men and women of Frederick who left lasting legacies.

“I’m inspired by them! I’m thankful that these men and women had forethought and vision for Frederick and its residents,” Rick says.

There are three businessmen that Rick finds exceptionally inspirational: Charlie Main, Jerry Offutt and Don Linton. Together, they formed the Community Foundation which created endowments that will live on in perpetuity. Rick says that they, and many others, used their resources and reinvested them in bedrock components of our community that today we celebrate as part of the quality of life we have, here in Frederick.

He explains, “When we take advantage of the Frederick Memorial Hospital, the United Way, the Community Foundation, the ARC of Frederick, the Delaplaine Center, the Weinberg Center of the Arts, and so many more, it’s as a result of the commitment of those who came before us."

What's more inspirational than those who leave a lasting legacy that continues to benefit our community?


Jessica Underwood, JR Capital Build

Jessica Underwood is the owner of JR Capital Build and was named one of Maryland's leading women under 40 in 2017 by the Daily Record. The only woman builder in Frederick, Jessica has a business that is a luxury, design/build firm, which provides the full 360 degrees of lot selection, designing, building and interior finishing.

My Women's Group

Fresh and energetic, even at the end of the workday, Jessica Underwood doesn't hesitate to share her inspiration. As the only woman-owned builder in Frederick and working primarily alone, she says she missed interacting with people.

“So, I started a women’s group downtown. I intended this women’s group to replicate the happy hour on Fridays with your coworkers, which I didn’t have. We started meeting once a month, and it’s grown and grown and grown.”

Jessica loves living and working in Frederick.

“It’s a town with a sense of community," she says. "I’m thankful for this core group of supportive women in Frederick which exemplifies a sense of community and support and concern—not only for Frederick but the global better good. The women, who are an inspiration to me personally, are models of leadership and strength and include Karlys Kline, founder of the Women’s Giving Circle; Jan Gardner, Frederick County executive; Kelly Schulz, Secretary of Department of Commerce; Bethamy Beam, litigation attorney and judge; Pam Plante, Simplivefy; and Jessica Patterson, Jessica Patterson Photography. It’s their leadership and generosity of spirit of time and knowledge that contributes such a richness to my life and Frederick."

Charlie Smith, State's Attorney for Frederick County

Charlie has been the chief law enforcement official as state's attorney for Frederick County since 2007. His office works with local police agencies and state and local government agencies to prosecute serious crimes and motor vehicle offenses. Charlie enjoys his position and shares that he finds it continually rewarding to help victims of crime and to help them through what is usually the most difficult time of their lives. With such a challenging job, one might expect he could use a little downtime. Relaxing for Charlie used to look like ultra running and also participating in an occasional Ironman triathlon, but now he pedals long distances with a bicycling club adding, "It's easier on the knees!"

Desiree' Smith

Charlie lights up when speaking of his inspiration. There was no question who he would name.

"Well, I would have to say, Desiree' M. Smith, my wife and the mother of my children. She's an incredibly dedicated and talented special agent with the FBI. She has worked so hard over the past 20-plus years to make this nation, state and county a better, safer place and has done so in law enforcement, an environment in which women find it difficult to excel. Those difficulties never dampened her resolve to seek justice."

Charlie goes on to say, "It's easy to point out single events like her Evidence Response Team duties at the Pentagon on 9/11 where she was hands-on, in the wreckage, responsible for ensuring remains were recovered with dignity. Seeing her, day in and day out, maintaining zeal for her faith, job and family has been an inspiration to me to do the same as state's attorney."

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