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Holly McNeill


Holly is an author and storyteller. Up until recently, however, her bio read differently. Following in her father’s footsteps, Holly was an associate principal in a top-ranking architecture firm. Nationally and internationally, she led teams on large healthcare projects such as the Stanford Cancer Hospital in California and the Mecca Holy Mosque Hospital in Saudi Arabia. Holly’s career has taken her across the country where she served on the planning, zoning and historic preservation boards in her hometown of Rapid City, SD and was the Minneapolis representative for her firm’s National Healthcare Interiors Leadership Forum. Her speaking engagements have included the keynote speaker at the 2015 New England Health Care Engineers Society Fall Conference and performing as the Master of Ceremonies at the Connecticut Real Estate Exchange 2014 Blue Ribbon Awards.

At the peak of her career, where there was talk of her becoming the managing principal at her firm’s San Francisco Office, Holly made a change. From the beginning, whether it was her professional life that prepared her for her personal struggles or the trials of her personal life that made her professional life seem so manageable, she says they were on two separate tracks.

Holly writes, “Lest we choose the life of a victim, we must realize that adversity is a teacher. All of it – parental abandonment and alienation, child abuse, #metoo, manipulation, guilt, shame, self- undermining, desperation, hope, courage, self-realization and personal power - has all been a part of my journey. It is how we react to the hardships that make all the difference.”

Several years into her self-discovery and healing, deciding to create her life with intention, Holly put two intentions out into the world. The first was to retire before she turned 50. The second was to create the time and space to write her memoir.

Two and a half years ago, just three days before she turned 50, Holly retired from her career as an architect. Today, the first chapter of her book, framed around the alienation she experienced from her two boys, has been published in a small literary journal. And, with this radio program today, she is introducing, along with her niece, Joslyn Amber Sarshad, a very talented singer, songwriter and a woman on her own journey, an act they put together called Second Degree, with storytelling, song, meditation and conversation.

Holly's goal, in writing and storytelling, is to shout out about the power we all have to create our lives with purpose. She hopes to crystallize how, by taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions, we can see this magic, understand the wisdom that comes with reconnecting to our core and manifest happiness in our lives and the world around us.