BUILDING YOUR PERSONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS? SAVE A SPOT FOR A FRIEND.
Who should you include on your Personal Board of Directors? Begin with a friend.
High-powered lawyers, mothers, wives, and community leaders, Hope Newsome and Noni Holmes-Kidd are two women who “do it all and do it well.” They both operate at the epicenter of the business and cultural community in Orlando, Florida, and have been recognized by the Orlando Business Journal as 40 under 40 and “Women to Watch”. These two humble, hardworking, and generous women have risen to leadership positions of their own accord, but they also have a secret weapon: their friendship. Through commonalities, mutual respect, and grace, they have formed a bond that propels them through each challenge – be it launching a law firm, succeeding in the C-Suite, or motherhood.
Hope Newsome is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Virtus LLP, an Orlando-based law firm founded in 2019 practicing in the areas of Corporate, Financial Services, Private Equity, and Public Finance. Prior to that, Hope spent 15 years in general counsel and compliance roles for private equity and asset management firms. She received her B.A. from Spelman College and J.D. from Barry University School of Law, and lives in Orlando with her husband and two children.
Noni Holmes-Kidd is Vice President and General Counsel at Parkway Property Investments, a real estate investment firm where she is responsible for all legal and corporate governance matters. Prior to that, she was an Associate at Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. from Emory University, her J.D from the University of Virginia School of Law, and lives in Orlando with her husband and son.
OH, THIS IS MY PERSON
Noni: We met at a baby shower. I like to say it was love at first sight, but I may only be speaking for myself! It was instantaneous. It was really meant to be.
Hope: If you’re familiar with Grey’s Anatomy, I thought: “Oh, this is my person, my Christina.” We have so much in common. In every area of my life, I have something in common with Noni. I can ask her opinion and I value her opinion.
Noni: Yeah, politics for sure. We have so many other things in common though. We both are big lovers and supportive of the arts community here in Orlando. We both went to college in Atlanta. We are both black women and the minority in our field respectively. We’ve both reached a high level of success, and that’s really a bonding thing.
Hope: It’s not to be lost that we were both General Counsels in fields where there are so few women of color. It is so special that we are women, young women, young African-American women – there was just a lot of opportunity to get ideas and feedback on how to lead and how to navigate the day-to-day of our jobs.
Noni: There has never been a moment where I haven’t been able to access or reach Hope and pick her brain on something. Even if it’s just a 15-minute call to pick her brain, we just try to be there for each other. We’ve also started the Power Hour Happy Hour. We’ve got 45 minutes with our list of things to talk through over a glass of wine and some appetizers. There’s no formal agenda. It’s so good for the soul.
I have also never been like, “Oh my gosh, Hope didn’t respond to my text.” I know she is busy. I know it is not intentional. We give each other the necessary leeway of leniency to be who we are.
Hope: My favorite thing about our relationship is grace. There is this mutual respect for everything that is going on. I don’t have to worry about Noni taking something the wrong way. There is just an ease to the relationship which makes it that much more special.
ON CAREER ADVICE
Noni: When we were going through our general counsel days together, it was just so invaluable to have Hope as a resource and to be able to just check in and bounce ideas off of her. Now in her role as head of her own law firm, our communication is even more valuable.
Hope: Noni was there when I decided to start my own law firm. She was definitely my confidant during the entire planning process, including the, “I am thinking about doing this” stage.
Noni: When Hope decided to launch her own law firm, I was thrilled. When Hope first started talking about doing her own thing, I thought this actually makes a lot of sense given that her practice area is so specialized. She is so good at what she does. When I found out that our other friend was joining her and they were going to do this together, it was the best news ever. I am generally very conservative and risk averse. I’m likely to tell you all the risks if you decide to, like, go across the street, but I knew that Hope and her law partner, Camille, were going to be amazingly successful in their law firm. And they have been – it is just a testament to Hope and Camille’s expertise and hard work.
SHE DOES IT ALL, AND DOES IT WELL
Hope: I think that she should be on the cover of magazines and spreading her leadership skills and thoughts across the country. Noni’s strength is her ability to just remain calm. Her ability to lead through stressful situations. I’ve never been on the other side of negotiating a deal with her, but I can probably bet that she is a great poker player because it is very difficult to rattle her at all. She is not just an excellent attorney, but also an innovative attorney and a hard worker. She is humble too. To be able to do that while also being a pleasure to work with is uncommon in our field.
Noni: There is a long list. Hope is an amazing connector. She has been in Orlando for a while, but she is just so involved in the community, in local politics, and it is all almost underground. You won’t ever know until you start to peel it back and you’re like, “Oh, you know this person?” Because, again, she is never going to toot her own horn. I’m still learning and understanding the breadth of her exposure and leadership here.
She just does it all and does it all very well. Her kids are amazing, because of Hope and her husband. They are amazing parents notwithstanding the fact that they are both very busy. She has given me so much advice as I have been navigating this wife, mother, and professional role. I am forever inspired by what she does.
ON QUEEN BEES
Hope: Yes, there is still a little bit of that lingering. But I don’t think that it is at the level that it probably was in the late 90s/early 2000s. It is not as common and it usually comes from a place of insecurity for that person.
Noni: There is a push generally for women to help each other, or at the very least not to push another woman down, and I think that is evident with the prevalence of organizations that are focused on women promoting women.
Hope: Because we now have opportunities to connect with women that want to lift other women, I don’t let it get to me. The Kayo Executive Leadership Retreat was my first Kayo conference. It was the most amazing and collaborative experience.
ON FINDING SOMEONE WHO GETS IT
Noni: I am so thankful for Hope and the relationship that we have built. Hope uses this term – Hope, correct me if I get it wrong – “personal board of directors”?
Noni: Every now and then, you do need to be able to talk to someone outside of your family who gets it.
Hope: Personalities in our field are interesting. When you come across someone you connect with, and who is a nice person too, oh my goodness. That’s what I love about her.