Ranching roots and artistic flair all part of ad coordinator’s journey
by Jessica Langdon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Julie Holthaus juggles a lot of responsibilities at The Leaven, and occasionally — if you’re lucky enough to walk in at exactly the right moment — you might just catch her actually juggling.
Yes, juggling is one of the many gifts the multitalented Holthaus possesses.
The newest member of the Leaven staff balances the quiet, professional running of the advertisements and calendars with a keen ability to catch you off guard with an exceptionally well-placed and unexpected quip or an equally unanticipated talent — like juggling.
Holthaus’ professional abilities run the gamut. In addition to organizing the paper’s ads, she handles billing, keeps the office running smoothly, writes, proofreads and takes pictures.
“I like the variety,” said Holthaus, who landed at The Leaven as its advertising coordinator in October 2012. “And I like talking with people, businesses and schools in the archdiocese and helping them reach a wider audience through advertising.”
And she does it well.
“Julie brings a calm spirit to The Leaven, especially on deadline day,” said Father Mark Goldasich, editor. “She does not let the pressures affect her attitude or demeanor. Since she is the ad person, she deals with an important segment of the paper. She deals well with our advertisers and is meticulous in assuring that the ad copy is accurate.”
And that’s just the canvas she works with from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Outside of work, Holthaus has flourished as an accomplished artist, with artwork on display at a gallery in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. (Check out her work online at: www.julieholthaus.com.) She hopes to expand her artistic presence in the future.
“Probably the biggest surprise to me was her artistic talent,” said Father Goldasich. “Since I am lucky to even draw stick figures, I’m always in awe of folks who can transfer what they see with their eyes onto canvas.”
Holthaus paints everything from urban settings to the rural landscapes she grew up surrounded by in the country about 10 miles outside of Seneca.
Although Prairie Village is technically home to Holthaus today, she still pitches in on her family’s northern Kansas farm.
Holthaus has also been an avid runner, completing several half marathons. And in college at Kansas State University in Manhattan, she played a lot of intramural sports.
“My brother and his friends were set on winning every intramural sport K-State offered,” she said, “likely just for the university champion T-shirts for winning the most. But they would rope us into playing everything from horseshoes to badminton to coed basketball. I think my brother and I did win at pingpong one year, but I also think we were the only team signed up!”
At Kansas State, she majored in advertising and journalism.
“I also worked for the K-State sports office, setting up press conferences, helping with statistics and the like, so I had some fun seats to watch the Wildcats,” said Holthaus.
Her family’s support of K-State runs deep, and so do the Holthaus roots in the part of Nemaha County where she grew up.
They are members of St. Mary Parish in St. Benedict, a small town outside Seneca.
“It’s a tight-knit community; everybody knows everybody or is related,” said Holthaus. “I think I was related to over half of my high school class, and we were one of the biggest — and orneriest classes — with around 28 students. Those poor teachers. God bless them. But it was a really great place to grow up. I feel blessed to have been raised there.”
And she feels that The Leaven is a great place to work, especially when it comes to helping people share with others through advertising.
“We reach well beyond Kansas City and have a good success rate on advertising feedback,” said Holthaus.
Of course, it’s not all about the ads for her.
“As for my favorite part, it would probably just be the outreach of the paper,” she said. “Catholic press is a great resource for Catholics and even non-Catholics. There is a lot of negative news out there, but Catholic press can provide something different. It tells the good. You can read inspiring stories about other Catholics in Kansas, find ways to help out or volunteer, all the while catching up with Pope Francis.”
Holthaus got to catch up with Pope Francis in person late last spring.
“My trip to Israel this past May was exciting,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to travel to Israel with five other United States journalists for the pope’s first visit there as pope.”
She documented the intensive days with photographs and words.
“From seeing the pope speak in person to sitting in on a Vatican press conference with international journalists, it was pretty incredible,” she said.
The group’s guide shared insights from both the Jewish and Christian perspective, and it added up to an experience she won’t soon forget.
“Not only to see [ancient] structures still intact, but to see places like Capernaum and areas around Galilee and Nazareth,” Holthaus said. “Places that can seem ancient and foreign in [Scripture] readings, but to be able to see it up close and see all the different ages and nationalities of people visiting. It was humbling.”
“Masada was also incredible,” she added. “I used to sit in the pews at my home parish in wonder at how they built such a church in the 1800s. But when you see these huge structures from thousands of years ago, it is unreal the efforts put in.”
These are sights she might never have seen without working for the Catholic press, and she is thankful to The Leaven, Catholic News Service and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism for such an up-close look at the birthplace of so many pieces of her faith.
Even with all her contributions and varied experiences and ability to juggle so many responsibilities in any given day, Holthaus still has some work to do if she’s going to fully amaze Father Goldasich.
“Although she can juggle three balls quite well, I’ll really be impressed when she can juggle four at a time,” he said.
But in all seriousness, he added, “Julie brings a wonderful spirit and sense of ‘the country’ to all of us city-slickers at The Leaven.”