The Barber Group became reality. After 22 years working for someone else, I opened my own public relations and communications consultancy. But this post really isn’t about the numerous accomplishments and the clients I’ve helped through crisis. Instead, it’s about the primary reason I went into this venture in the first place. It’s a reminder of what’s important in life.

James and Thomas Barber, Summer 2000

James (left) and Thomas Barber in the summer of 2000.

I started The Barber Group to give my two boys, Thomas and James, the support they needed to grow into future leaders. To help them through school and extra activities. And, to allow them the change to spend lazy summer days hanging out in the neighborhood with their friends instead of traipsing off to day camps. At the time my husband was in the Alaska Air National Guard and we knew he was facing overseas deployments at an increased rate. All these factors and, quite honestly, the desire to see if I could make a go on my own, played into the decision to open The Barber Group.

I think it worked out pretty well so far. Today, Thomas and James are strapping young men who are good students, athletes and leaders. Thomas is already an Eagle Scout and James likely will be by the end of the summer. More important to me and my husband is that they are caring and thoughtful people. I don’t want you to think there haven’t been challenges and there aren’t many moments of the normal teen issues in our house because there are. But, our ability to put the focus where it makes the most difference for so many years is paying off for us.

Along the way, I’ve been a strong advocate for my communities through volunteer service. I’ve been a regular fixture in the classroom and serve the Public Relations Society of America both locally and nationally. Currently I’m also on the Alumni Board for Whitman College and I’ve led various local nonprofit efforts. Of course, I’ve also done a lot of work for clients of which I’m very proud.

But as I begin the next ten years as an independent communications consultant, I think it’s important to reflect on what’s important in life…family.

James (left) and Thomas Barber checking out the scene; summer 2009