Holly Schroeder was named president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation in 2013. The nonprofit SCVEDC, which was established in 2010, works to attract new businesses to the SCV, as well as retain and assist existing business. It also markets the community and is a resource for economic data.
Midwest born and raised
Schroeder was raised in northeast Ohio, near Kent, the home of Kent State University.
The youngest of three daughters her father was a college professor of psychology at Kent State University and her mother a school psychologist.
“I grew up in a great neighborhood, as a kid I would get up in the morning and go outside and not come inside until after dark,” she said.
“We had a small horse farm when I was growing up.” And, Schroeder learned to ride and take care of the animals. “It was hard work, but super enjoyable,” she said.
Schroeder graduated high school from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, located about 15 miles from Kent. Despite her Ohio roots, she decided to attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, near Minneapolis.
“My mom grew up in Minneapolis and I had extended family in the area,” she said. “It was a great way to get out of Ohio, but stay near a strong family network. Not too close, not too far away.”
Chemistry and French
St. Olaf was known mostly for its school choir. “It has a fantastic choir, but that’s not why I went there. They also had a strong science program and in my younger years, I thought I might become a doctor,” she said.
However, Schroeder graduated with a double major of French and Chemistry.
The French major was somewhat by accident,” she said. “I had taken French through high school and when attending St. Olaf, I discovered short study abroad programs.”
Schroeder’s parents wanted any travel to be associated with learning a language, so she “stuck with the program long enough to get to Paris” and then only needed another course to complete the degree.
“It was a fantastic experience,” she said. “Unfortunately, I am not nearly as fluent in French now.”
After college, Schroeder decided against medical school and went to work at Waste Management in Chicago, where she was an environmental compliance specialist at the company. “You had to be able to read lab reports from water sampling and other types of data,” she said.
During her four years working for Waste Management, she traveled throughout the United States visiting landfills, transfer stations and hauling companies.
“It was in the early 1990s when new environmental compliance regulations were being instituted for waste management companies,” Schroeder said.
That travel introduced her to the West Coast.
Schroeder loved the scenery, everything from the mountains to the ocean.
“After growing up in the flat Midwest, I was blown away by the different terrain,” she said. “I love the hills and mountains and how you can drive a short way and be in a different environment, and it’s not flat.”
Portland, Oregon to the SCV
“I met my then-husband, and we relocated to Portland where I worked for the state of Oregon for 10 years,” she said. Schroeder held a variety of positions at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality from organizational improvement coordinator to administrator of management services to administrator of water quality protection.
She obtained a Master of Science degree in 2000 from the University of Oregon in applied information management.
But, after a few visits to Southern California, Schroeder decided living here might be a good idea. “It was nice and warm and sunny here when it was cold and rainy in Portland,” she said.
Schroeder started looking for a job. She became an executive with the Building Industry Association Los Angeles and Ventura chapter and moved to Valencia in 2005.
Building Industry Association
The BIA is the trade association for the home building industry including builders KB Home, D.R. Horton and Lennar, as well as the trades associated with home building, such as landscapers, drywallers, roofers, window companies, real estate agents, marketing consultants and mortgage companies.
Her office was located in the SCV, but Schroeder said her “real” office was in her car.
“With the office covering all of Los Angeles and Ventura counties I drove a lot,” she said.
Schroeder started with the BIA when the economy was still strong. “But then the recession hit, and home building was one of the severely affected industries. It was a professional and personal challenge. I saw a lot of great people lose their jobs and their companies.”
Schroeder said going through the recession was “tough.” When she found the SCVEDC job in 2013, she was “ready for a change.”
After five and a half years at the SCVEDC Schroeder said she feels like she just came on board, “yesterday.”
Her proudest accomplishment is convincing Logix Federal Credit Union to move its headquarters from Burbank to the SCV. The company, which was located in Burbank for more than 80 years, outgrew its space and needed a new home.
“They did a lot of searching and they thought they were going to stay in the Burbank vicinity, but we worked really hard to win them over, to see the opportunities in the SCV,” Schroeder said.
The company is now building a new headquarters off Commerce Center Drive.
“It’s spectacular,” she said. “When you drive by on Highway 126 you can’t miss it, it’s gorgeous.” Logix and nearly 500 employees should be in the new building by early 2020.
Enjoying life in the SCV
Schroeder experienced a life-changing incident last year when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“It was a wake-up call. Fortunately, it was benign, but it needed to be removed because it was impacting my vision,” she said. “The entire surgery and recovery went exactly according to plan.”
Now Schroeder focuses on working hard, but also is enjoying and appreciating everything in her life. In her free time, Schroder crochets and makes sweaters, scarfs and baby blankets.
In the past seven years, she has become an avid golfer. Schroeder is a member of the women’s golfing group LPGA Amateur Golf Association, Los Angeles Chapter.
“I’ve made a lot of great friends and we get together and play at different courses around the region,” she said. “It’s super fun.