Fast Facts about Sara
Position: Client Liaison
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Education: Purdue University, Rhode Island School of Design
Skill She Wishes She Had: The ability to do a handstand
Sara Richey, interior designer and Client Liaison, brings her passion and unique perspective to the Higher Education Studio. Combining her creative eye, inquisitive mind, and secret professional racquetball skills, she’s ready to take on our clients’ most ambitious goals.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in Buffalo, close to the border of Canada in a very diverse family. My dad was Indian and my mom is Italian; I was exposed to different perspectives from a very young age. This alone definitely shaped who I am today. Through childhood and adolescence, I saw the impact of varied economic situations and culturally diverse human behaviors. It helped me develop empathy for everyone—locally, nationally, and globally. I am a firm believer we are here to help others. That is the foundation of where I come from and who I am.
After leaving Buffalo, I went to Purdue and received my undergraduate degree in Interior Design and later attended Rhode Island School of Design for a year towards a master’s degree in Architecture. Through the years, I have served in many positions, starting in design and eventually transitioning into sales and management. In my last role, I served as an OEM and International Sales Manager.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career so far?
For the bulk of my career, I worked for a global company that encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone. I took on various positions that stretched me, sometimes feeling as though I was taking steps backward, when I was actually taking giant leaps forward in personal and professional growth. I truly believe that when you learn more, you create more. When you create more, you serve more.
What is the best part of your job?
I think the best part of the job is the people. I enjoy my internal teams, but I also love building on existing relationships, while forging new ones. My best days have me out learning, listening, and collaborating with clients to help them to achieve their goals.
What is your vision or goal for the Higher Education Studio?
I can’t think of anything more important than our youth and our future.
There are three components to higher education in my mind. The first is obviously the student. The second is the administration/educators/staff of the institution. The third component is the parents. If you put each of these components into a Venn diagram, the center is truly the community. It is our responsibility to craft great strategies for our higher education clients and our communities; both the public and private sector. We need to be intentional about how to effectively work collectively to meet and exceed students’, faculty, and facility needs, preparing them for the best possible outcomes now and in the future.
I want our team to be considered a trusted leader and expert by helping our clients unravel and align their facility needs and strategic goals. With that, we’ve accomplished a lot.
What advice would you have for someone in the field?
Always be humble. Whether you are new or a seasoned expert, there is always room to be wiser about what we do and how we solve.
What do you do when you feel “stuck” and need to get out of a rut?
I do headstands. The obvious physical benefits help with balance and core strength, but it also helps me literally see things from a different perspective. I want to always be reminded there are multiple views and multiple solutions to every situation.
What do you do in your free time?
I love spending time with my family. Whether we are going for a hike at Eagle Creek or doing a silly baking competition at home, I enjoy just kicking back and having fun. I also value time spent with friends—from simple lunches together to vacations in Cabo, I always try to work in time to build those relationships as well.
Tell us about your family.
My husband’s name is Russ, and we’re blessed with having two incredible sons—Cole (15) and Finn (13). We also have the most adorable dog in the world, Johnny Cash. He won his name from a Facebook poll. “Ring of Fire” is his song.
If you had $1 million to spend, not on yourself or your family, how would you spend it?
I would use it to help people across the globe have access to food, healthcare, and education. To me, life is about empowering others. Unfortunately, not everyone is brought into this world on the same terms and it saddens me. It is important to think outside of ourselves.
You have traveled extensively. Where is the most interesting place you have been?
India. I think it is because it is part of who I am and where I come from. It is drastically different from my upbringing in the U.S. and a sharp contrast in every way possible. From the sensory experience to the economic experience of watching underserved and wealth co-existing. The culture, food, hospitality, spirituality, and generosity of the people are incredible. It reminds me of the importance of giving, perspective, and attitude.
What’s one thing not everyone knows about you?
I played competitive racquetball in the 80s and through the early 90s, back when the sport was in vogue. I traveled nationally and was sponsored by Head Racquet Sports, ranking nationally in doubles with my best friend and arch-rival. At age 17, I won the Women’s New York State Open Championship…which, frankly, is all kind of embarrassing to discuss!