A. Noni Holmes-Kidd,
Vice President and General Counsel,
Parkway Property Investments,
(March 2020) – When Noni Holmes-Kidd, vice president and general counsel at Parkway Property Investments, moved to Central Florida with her husband in June 2014 to accept a position as senior counsel at what was then Parkway Properties Inc., she had no idea how career-defining that move would be. After earning her juris doctor from the University of Virginia and working for several years at law firm Hogan Lovells LLP in Washington, D.C., she left a city she loved to try something new.
You can’t do your job well and lead others if you don’t take stock of both your strengths and your weaknesses.
Nervous yet excited, she embarked on her new role, and within just two weeks, she made a discovery that would see her through the next stages of her professional life. “I was invited to a lunch,” she remembered of that summer. “At the end of it, someone said, ‘You should apply to ATHENA.’ I did, and I was accepted into the second-ever class.”
That someone was Pamela Brown, a partner at Foley & Lardner and a friend and mentor of Holmes-Kidd. She was one of many leaders both in and outside of the program who would help Holmes-Kidd continue her own journey.
Holmes-Kidd knew she wanted to be general counsel for a publicly traded company, but that isn’t how she started
with Parkway, a real estate investment firm. “I was hired by the general counsel to come on as a senior counsel, and I accepted the job because I knew there would be opportunities to do and see more than I had before,”
When the firm went through a merger and spin-off in 2016, years of hard work converged with good timing. “The board and management team really believed in me,” Holmes-Kidd said, “and I became general council.”
Holmes-Kidd was 33 when she reached that goal. “It was intimidating,” she admitted. “I wasn’t sure at all that I was ready.” Enter ATHENA NextGen.
The program helps women enhance their professional skills through a series of eight leadership development sessions. Led and taught by prominent women in Central Florida, the curriculum is based on the guiding
principles ATHENA International Founder Martha Mertz outlined in her book ATHENA: Eight Principles of Enlightened Leadership.
Holmes-Kidd remembers one class in particular during the program. “It was the ‘Advocating Fiercely’ chapter. Our teacher asked us to give one example of a time we had advocated for ourselves,” she said. “I was stunned by how hard it was to think of something, to articulate that.”
The experience drove home a now-integral part of her leadership style. “You can’t do your job well and lead others if you don’t take stock of both your strengths and your weaknesses,” Holmes-Kidd said. “And hearing those stories and creating that bond with other women was so powerful.”
In her career, Holmes-Kidd often finds herself in rooms where she is “the only woman and the only person of color.” In those situations, she draws on the wisdom acquired through ATHENA NextGen — including advocating fiercely. When she does that, she explained, she can bring the voices of others to the table. “You can make the case for people who will rise to leadership after you, and that’s a strength.”
In addition to ATHENA NextGen, Holmes-Kidd credits the development of that strength to her career, her friends and mentors who have led by example — including women she met in the program, like fellow Athena alumna Hope Newsome — and most importantly, her own family.
“When I think of an incredible leader, I think of my dad,” she said. “He taught me to treat everyone well, and to treat them equally. Everyone you work with plays a role in your success, even if you don’t see it.”
Holmes-Kidd has continued to expand her life through relationships, community work and travel — including a trip to Antarctica two years ago that rounded out her mission to see all seven continents. She has also continued to expand her idea of leadership. A year after Parkway’s 2016 merger and spin-off, Holmes-Kidd led the legal efforts for yet another merger and spin-off, which ultimately led to Parkway Property Investments becoming a privately owned real estate firm with office, multifamily and industrial holdings.
Now mom to a 16-month-old son, she finds herself focused on finding balance. “Making sure he is happy and healthy and has a beautiful life, and that he has a mom and dad who are engaged and interested, are top priorities now. I think that has made me even more intentional and deliberate as a leader.”