Q&A Session with Patricia Brant

It takes a strong, smart, and feisty woman to keep up with Sarah, Schmidt Associates’ CEO. But, have no doubt, Patricia Brant is definitely up for the task!





Let’s start with your background
Well, I come from a family of six, so I am used to having constant motion around me. After high school, I started as a customer service representative, moved on to become a receptionist, an administrative assistant, and eventually worked my way up through the ranks to become an Executive Assistant. I’ve been serving C-suite execs for approximately 15 years now, and I really do enjoy it. One of my favorite quotes is from the late author and psychotherapist, Alan Loy McGinnis, who said, “There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being – to help someone succeed.” I do that every day, and I’m proud of the work I do “behind the scenes”.

On a personal level, I am a single mother to Meg, a graduate student at Ball State, studying sociology. In the Summer of 2014 I purchased my first home, in Speedway. It was originally built in 1929 to house the construction workers building the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It needs some renovations, but generally speaking, it has “good bones”.

What inspires you?
My daughter inspires me. She inspires me to be a better person. It’s funny, even if I wasn’t her mom, I would still like her! I love how she sees the good in everything and everyone. And, no one makes me laugh as hard as she does. Our laugh-fests are epic.










What do you do in your free time?
I love to read (currently reading “My Life on the Road”, by Gloria Steinem). I also enjoying going to outdoor concerts and flea markets. I don’t buy a lot, but I enjoy looking. I think the flea markets draw me in with “old” things. I have a thing for old pitchers and chairs—even ones that aren’t functional. Maybe it is the story that they carry that I don’t know? I have never really thought about that.

What’s your favorite movie?
My favorite movie is The Thorn Birds (1983)—a made-for-TV mini-series starring, Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. I loved the movie so much, I named my daughter after the main female character.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I can touch my nose with my tongue.

Working on Mass Ave, what is your favorite food down here?
Of course I love The Flying Cupcake. The strawberry one, “Pretty in Pink”, is my favorite. But Bazbeaux is still one of my favs!

So next time you call or stop by the office and you find yourself talking to Patricia, say hello and introduce yourself. Her infectious smile, bubbly personality, and catchy laugh is sure to lift your mood.


Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom NeffJoe Redar, and Dave Jones

Q&A Session with Dave Jones

Sitting at his desk on the second floor all day, doing the things that electrical designers do, we haven’t had a chance to get to know Dave Jones much yet. So this week, we took the opportunity!



Tell me about your background.

Well, I am originally from Dayton, Ohio, but I was born in New Orleans and still have family there. When I started college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, so I spent my first two years with an undecided major. I knew I was good in math and tried several related majors. Engineering just seemed to stick and I graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in it. I moved to Indianapolis in 2000 after graduation.

What inspires you?
Taking care of my family is definitely the biggest driving factor in my life. I firmly believe that I must be good at my job and succeed professionally to provide well for them. I have been married to my wife, Jennifer, for 10 years. Together, we have Zoe, 10, and twin 7-year-olds, Davey and Samantha.

And, like anyone else, it’s nice to be recognized for a job well done.







What do you do in your free time?
I used to play sports a lot, but I recently blew out both knees at a trampoline park. I was entertaining the kids with slam dunks and managed to rupture both patellar tendons on my fourth dunk. I had to have both knees surgically repaired and was bedridden. When I finally regained some mobility, I had to use a walker, complete with tennis balls on the bottom to avoid scuffing the floors.








What’s your favorite book?
I really enjoy “The Stand” by Stephen King.

Do you collect anything?
Do gray hairs count?

Do you keep anything special at your desk?
I have several bottles of hot sauce because I like my tongue to burn. If I had to choose, I would say my favorite is Cholula, though it isn’t necessarily the hottest. I also have Valentina, Frank’s, Tabasco, and Tapatio.

What is your favorite hidden activity or place to go in Indianapolis?
Since blowing out my knees, I look weird when I run—like a robot or something. Because of that, I had to find a new exercise routine, and I took up biking. I found this dirt road just off 96th Street, just west of Allisonville Road. There are some great trails back there.

Do you have a dream vacation?
I would love to visit Spain, try paella made the right way, and see the beautiful architecture there. Unfortunately, my wife doesn’t share the same vision.

It was such fun to sit down and talk with Dave. If you ever get the chance, give him a call. You might get lucky and he would be willing to share some of that hot sauce with you!

Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie WilsonTom Neff, and Joe Redar

Q&A Session with Joe Redar

Spending just a few minutes with Joe Redar, Project Architect with Schmidt Associates, and you will recognize the intensity with which he approaches life. From his days in architecture school to his time at Schmidt Associates, Joe has known what he wanted and hasn’t hesitated to pursue it. Not so long ago, we had a chance to get to know him a bit better.


Tell me about your background.
I grew up in Lake County, but was ready for a change of scenery so my future wife and I relocated to Columbia, South Carolina. Though I was pursuing a career in education at the time, I got the itch and switched paths to pursue Architecture as a profession. I chose to go to the University of Kentucky because they had a competitive exam as part of the requirements into the program. That really impressed me; it seemed they were going to attract people with similar drive to me. I completed a 5-year bachelor’s program and immediately started working in the field.

Why architecture?
While I was in college studying education, I managed a camera shop and developed pictures. We oftentimes got professionally shot architecture and engineering photos. Seeing those projects coming up and out of the ground inspired me. I had always been a Lego kid with an interest in drawing. Those photographs rekindled the interest in architecture and engineering from my childhood.

What makes you tick?
I try to get the most out of every moment I can—whether home or work, I try to make each minute count. I get up with the mindset that I am going to use every minute of my day, or as much as is reasonable, anyway. I recognize that downtime is important, but I enjoy being pushed to expand my abilities. That is part of what I love about Schmidt Associates, they encourage my growth, both personally and professionally.

What do you do in your free time?
Music is really big in my life—contemporary bluegrass to be exact. Going to school in Kentucky, there were a lot of free bluegrass festivals.  My wife and I attended them often and still try to get to a couple a year.

Do you travel?
When I was in architecture school, my professor thought it would be an interesting experience for us to go to Cuba. He was right. I was fascinated by the way they maintained their buildings, cars, everything. Because the government was hindering their economic growth, the area was a faded glory of the 1950s, perfectly preserved in a time capsule. I imagine if I were to return now, it would be totally different.

Otherwise, I have been many places, but I think my favorite vacation is spent hiking.

What’s your favorite place to go in Indy?
Heidelburg Haus, a German bakery and café off Pendleton Pike. It is such a cool spot. The whole place is packed with things—beer steins and other weird, interesting German stuff. And they have excellent coffee too!

Joe and his wife, Julie have been married 19 years and have two kids—Ben, 16, and Liv, 12.








Also learn about Sarah HempsteadTricia SmithCharlie Wilson, and Tom Neff


david_for-web David Logan, Graduate Architect






Tattoos on the Heart

By Gregory Boyle

I am always on the lookout for another memoir, and in all my searching, I have yet to find one I enjoyed as much as Tattoos on the Heart. Father Boyle is a Jesuit priest working in the heart of Los Angeles who runs Homeboy Industries, a program that seeks to intervene in the lives of gang members. Boyle serves as a father figure to the gang members, both spiritually and physically. The work of Homeboy Industries includes tattoo removal, a bakery, painting (over graffiti), and a variety of other services often with former rival gang members working alongside each other. As one might expect, the banter in the book is colorful, and the events are both humorous and heartbreaking. Boyle’s reflections are warmly endearing and spiritually meaningful, and altogether, this is an incredible story of humanity seen at both its best and its worst.

DesmaDesma Belsaas, Principal






Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

By Sheryl Sandberg

This a great read for anyone. If you are not lucky enough to be a woman, you likely have a spouse, sister, daughter, friend, or co-worker who is. Being a woman can be both a blessing and a curse. Though there are many opportunities for women to succeed, there are numerous stereotypes and unconscious behaviors that are so ingrained in our society that it is difficult to overcome them. This book takes a great look at the ways we can help empower ourselves to look at how we treat women in today’s fast-paced world and what we can do to encourage their continued success.

new-staff-photoJoe Redar, Project Architect






The Snow Leopard

By Peter Matthiessen

This book is one part travel journal, one part naturalist essay, and one part spiritual quest. Ostensibly, the purpose of the journey is to study the wildlife of the Dolpo region of Nepal. Along the way deep insights are gained. The story does an excellent job of imbuing and elevating the landscape the narrator navigates through with spiritual significance. Highly recommended!

Want more recommendations?

Blog #1

Blog #2

Q&A Session with Tom Neff

TomNeffJust sitting down for a friendly conversation with Tom Neff—Principal—you can understand why he leads our K-12 Studio. It’s always an interesting education and a fantastic conversation!




Tell me about your background
I grew up in Coshocton, Ohio, and attended The Ohio State University—one of the last Beaux Arts programs in the nation—for both my undergraduate and masters in Architecture. That lead me to teaching at the University of Notre Dame (also a Beaux Arts program) and then into practicing Architecture.

Uhm, Tom … what is Beaux Arts?
It’s a very rich and lavish type of architecture. But at The Ohio State, it was a style of presentation as well. Everything was done in watercolors and freehand drawing. It is more of a classical design training process, emphasizing color theory too. All work had to be drawn and watercolored beautifully when we turned it in. Each student’s project was hung on the wall and we were asked to leave the room. At that point, the faculty would get up and throw the ugly ones on the floor. It really forced the students to take a lot of self-initiative to stay in the program.


Painting in Spain









So what inspires you?
My children and my wife. Each one is so talented and giving in their own way. I love watching them use their talents to achieve remarkable results and truly make a difference in this world.

As far as design, it needs to have a sense of meaning that reaches and pulls from the past, follows through to the present, and moves on to transform the future. A true piece of architecture is something you can always go back to, but understand something new each time. If you understand everything from the outset, then it is over. To me, there always needs to be something new to see and discover.

Tell me about your family.
I have been married to my beautiful wife, Marilyn, for 40 years. She is a speech pathologist who specializes in early intervention. The things she does to help families is absolutely incredible.

My son, Matthew, is married to Alison and they have a son, Yasir, 14. Alison had been working at a foster care agency with Yasir for several years. After his seventh foster home didn’t work out, Matthew and Alison knew he needed to join their family.

My son, James, is married to Susan, a childhood cancer survivor. As such, they are extremely active in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Together, they raised more than $100,000 for cancer research last year!

Maxx is my schnauzer mix—a pound puppy from Kokomo. We are so lucky. He is a great dog and loves to travel!

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What do you do in your free time?
Well, I am an avid swimmer. I aim to swim roughly 2000 yards a day. And as you might imagine, I enjoy painting, drawing, sketching, watercolors, etc. Oh yeah, and I love to cook crazy things! I think my favorites are out of Food and Wine magazine.

Do you have a favorite movie or type of music?
As an architect, I loved the movie Gladiator. The reconstruction of the Coliseum was unbelievable!

As far as music, I like it all—opera to jazz to Broadway to classic rock, country western. My playlist is a fusion of many different styles.

There is so much more to Tom than we have time to get into here—be it his travels, his love of wine, or his animated personality. If you are ever looking for a great conversation, give Tom a call!

Also learn about Sarah Hempstead, Tricia Smith, or Charlie Wilson




megan-scott-2016 Megan Scott, Marketing Manager






The Serving Leader

By Kenneth R. Jennings and John Stahl-Wert

This book touches on five actions that can help transform your team, business, and community. It tells a great story that demonstrates what Servant Leadership (a core value at Schmidt Associates) is through real life examples. There are applicable ideas to take away from this book and use in your personal and professional lives.

Eddie Layton, Project Architect






Wizard’s First Rule

Terry Goodkind

As one who does not typically read fantasy series, this long series pulled me completely in and enthralled me. The story of a young man from the woods who discovers his identity and meaning to people he never knew even existed is a continuous adventure in a race against time to defeat evil. This series is 17 books long, so there is an overarching plot with many subplots throughout, weaving an interesting and exciting story that’ll keep your attention for days… weeks… or years. Non-traditional, fantasy characters fill this universe in which magic is a “gift” that very few individuals possess.

staff-portraits_dad1063Morgan McFarland, Communications and Digital Media Specialist






It isn’t a book, but it is something always on my shelf! I appreciate reading about what is going on around Indianapolis and the surrounding cities, whether it be new business sprouting up, politics, upcoming events, or sports (GO DAWGS!). No matter your profession or your personal interests, there is usually an article in the IBJ that effects your life somehow. Plus, it gives me a constant stream of topics to talk about with my peers.

Want more recommendations?

Blog #1

Welcome to our WOYS (What’s On Your Shelf) Series

SarahOne of my New Year’s resolutions is to take the time to read more books in 2017. Books are a way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle, allowing us to dive into another world. Or books can serve as an inspiration, a motivator, or a new perspective on life. But it can be hard to find the true gems amid the selection of almost 130,000,000 books that currently exist in the world today. So we thought it would be a good idea to start a blog series designed to help everyone find the next book to add to their reading collection: we call it “WOYS”, short for What’s on Your Shelf. Each blog post in this series will list three book recommendations from our staff members. Some will be “meat and potatoes” (adding something to our lives) and some will be “candy” (pure entertainment). Watch as our collection grows! We would love to hear book recommendations from you as well.

I will start us off…



Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
by James Loewen

They say those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. Through “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”, Loewen examines 12 popular American history high school textbooks and attempts to humanize our heroes while offering a more complete picture of American history. If you are like me, you will find yourself saying, “really?”, I have never heard that story throughout. Beware, questions raised while reading this book will likely result in additional hours of internet research.



The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

It’s not an easy challenge, introducing fantasy into history, particularly when dealing with subjects we struggle to discuss as the best of times. Colson’s remarkable novel does just that, telling the story of a renovated store in an America where the Underground Railroad is a real railroad—complete with engineers, train cars, and fluctuating schedules.

I read it in one weekend, totally taken in by the book’s universe. Fair warning, this is not an easy read. Awful things happen with regularity in this story. It’s worth the journey, but it is not a joy ride.



Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie

How did I miss Agatha Christie in my formative years?

The oversight was pointed out to me upon the news that Murder on the Orient Express would be released on the big screen (for the second time) in the Fall of 2017. Having remedied the situation, I plan on loading my reading list with more Christie. It’s smart, fun summer reading at its best. You’ll zip through this one and immediately want to download your next Agatha Christie.



Q&A Session with Charlie Wilson

Charlie_WilsonAfter signing up for an intercorporate training program in 1988 at Arlington High School, Charlie Wilson–Plumbing Designer and one of our newest Associates—spent a half day in the classroom and the other half day in an architecture and engineering office training to be an architect and draftsman. Not long after he began that job working half days, at the age of 19 and no plumbing designers to speak of in the firm, he was thrown into the plumbing role and the rest is history. Fast forward 26 years, and we sit down with Charlie to learn a little bit about him.

If you were to describe plumbing design to someone, how would you do it?
Plumbing has more to do with life safety than most people would think. Sure, I design restrooms to keep them sanitary. But I also protect people and property with fire suppression. In my past, I have literally saved lives by designing medical gas administration in operating rooms. Plumbing is pretty important. It just gets a bad reputation.

What do you do in your free time?
My cousin, Paul, and I restore and repair vintage motorcycles.  I have always ridden motorcycles and when they broke down, I just repaired them. Somehow I just started doing it for friends and then it snowballed. We now own a shop called Chemical Room Cycles. We don’t really have a storefront, it is all word of mouth and our Facebook page. After I retire from Schmidt Associates, I hope to be able to spend even more time doing it.









Where did the name Chemical Room Cycles come from?
Our shop is in an old warehouse that used to run a printing press. The room we are in used to store chemicals and had a sign in there stating such. We decided to just keep the name since there was already a sign.

Have you had any other interesting jobs in your past?
In my youth, I was an amateur musician, playing the drums for several years. Later, I played the guitar and sang in bands. I kind of played on my own, a one man acoustical show. My music of choice was 70s and 80s rock and roll. I was also a karaoke dj.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?
I have traveled to Cartagena, Columbia, South America several times through the years. I love going to the beach, hanging out at the pool, and going to the discos at night. On one trip, I saw Mick Jagger and on another Bill Gates. Apparently celebrities like the place as much as I do.

In his free time, Charlie has two daughters—Elaine, 18, and Charlotte, 21. He and his girlfriend Cheri live downtown and love to eat dinner at Ralph’s Great Divide, listen to music at the Chatterbox, and munch on bacon cheeseburgers at the Mass Ave Pub. To learn more about Charlie, visit his profile.

Also learn about Sarah Hempstead and Tricia Smith

Q&A Session with Tricia Smith

tricia-smith-2016_for-webTricia Smith, Company Ambassador/Receptionist greets our guests, answers the phones, and generally keeps the office running smoothly. Though, if you were to ask her, her job description is more like office mom, school nurse, finder of lost things, and conference room enforcer. In her free time, she makes specialty handmade cards. Below, we get to know her a little better.

Tell me about yourself.

I am one of six kids and an IPS graduate. I graduated in June 1988, turned 18 in July, and married Michael in August. We just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary! I guess you could say that was a big summer for me.

What inspires you?
My faith is very important to me. I want to allow the Word to be my guide and fill my heart and be an example in my life. My family is also an inspiration to me, filling me with love and laughter.

Tell me about your craft.
I feel like the gift of encouragement is a part of me. I have always been a card sender, that catapulted me into making my handmade cards. There is nothing like getting happy mail vs. junk mail and bills.

I truly believe that there is a part of me in in every card. When I make a card, typically, I make it specifically for someone. I consider personality, interests, etc. I make a different style of card based on each receiver. Though I have a few for sale that are premade, my inventory isn’t large. Each card is unique and made with love.

Tricia_cards Tricia_cards 2







Aside from cards, what do you do in your free time?
I am a gamer. My son says I became an official gamer when I got a headset. I also really enjoy geocaching. Mostly though, I just enjoy time with my boys (husband, Michael and son, Andy). I love my life. I love them.

Do you keep anything special at your desk?
I guess my two most special things are a picture of three generations of Smith’s—my father-in-law, Michael, and Andy—and a clock with a picture of the ark that says “God Keeps his promises.” My family and faith mean so much to me, I keep reminders of them everywhere.

What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?
I have an irrational fear of tipping over in a vehicle. That was never more evident than when I was on a medical mission trip in Kenya, where the roads aren’t quite the same as they are here.

If you ever get the chance to say hello or need a special card made with love, stop in and see her or visit her Facebook page. As Tricia always says, you know where to find me—at the front desk of Schmidt Associates!

Also learn about Sarah Hempstead

Q&A Session with Sarah Hempstead

SarahWhether it’s because of the Wonder Woman Barbie at her desk, the occasional client gift of glittered boots, or possibly the abundance of chicken stories, one conversation with Sarah Hempstead, AIA, LEED AP, and you will know she isn’t just a typical female in a male-dominated industry. Below, we sit down to have a conversation and get to our CEO a bit more.



Where did you go to school?
I’m a Catholic school kid—St. Teresa’s Elementary and then Catholic Central High School in Springfield, Ohio. I went to Ball State to study architecture and I also studied for a short time in Russia, at the Volgograd State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

What inspires you?
Art, literature, lots of traveling, and even other people’s work!

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would love to return to the Greek Islands. I traveled there as part of an architecture trip in college and fell in love with the place. Because of their constant exposure to multiple cultures at the International School of Indiana, I think my girls would really appreciate being able to see and experience the beauty.

What do you do in your free time?
I’m usually really easy to find—either at work or on the soccer field or cross country course watching my daughters. We are also really blessed to have a close friends and a large extended family nearby, so free time is rare but fun!

Favorite Book?
This is like picking your favorite child—it’s too hard! My recent favorites are All the Light We Cannot See and American Gods.

Do you have any pets?
My brother-in-law bought my husband six chicks for his birthday one year. He just showed up on our doorstep out of the blue with these chicks in a box. It took us a couple of months to construct a coop for them and they have been good entertainment ever since. Though we are down to only four, we eat a lot of eggs! We also have an Australian Shepard that I like much better than the chickens.

You have a lot of unusual “treasures” at your desk. Tell me about your favorite?
I think my favorite is the Wonder Woman Barbie (in disguise as a secretary in the navy). My mother in law gave her to me knowing I have always loved Wonder Woman. Growing up, I made my own bullet proof bracelets out of aluminum foil!

When not at work, Sarah can be found about town with her husband, Greg (also an architect at Schmidt Associates) and her two girls, Norah and Caitlyn.