Springfield News-Sun: Springfield Grad New CEO of Top Mid-West Company


Naomi Harward/240-298-8362


1993 Springfield Catholic Central High School graduate Sarah Hempstead continues to give back to the school that inspired her to pursue a career in architecture and led to her recent position as only the 2nd CEO of Schmidt Associates, one of the top architectural and engineering firms in the Midwest.

Currently, Hempstead and the firm are designing three new science labs for Central High. According to Dr. Karen Juliano, Principal and CEO of Catholic Central School, the concrete had been laid for the labs, but the space was left as “future expansion room”. Hempstead recognized the need for the labs and made the pitch to design and build them.

“I’ve kept in contact with [the school] over the years,” Hempstead said. “And we’ve helped them with a lot of little things.” She also said that education is one of the main focuses at Schmidt Associates, and they enjoy being able to assist schools.

Dr. Juliano said that because the need for the labs was evident, and because Hempstead was a graduate of Central High, the school “went for it.”

The first lab will be a biology lab, set to be completed next August. A chemistry lab and a physics lab will follow.

The school is funding the project through a gift from class of ’57 graduate, Dr. William Mayor. Dr. Juliano said that as a gift, Mayor left funds for the future labs in addition to a scholarship fund the school offers annually.

Hempstead said that it was a math teacher at Central High who inspired her to become an architect. Mr. Randy Emmons was Hempstead’s math teacher, and, when Hempstead “ran out of math classes to take”, was the one who suggested she take his drafting class.

“I really like math,” she said.

Hempstead said that Emmons recognized her talent with numbers and sketches, and he told her she should pursue a career in those skills. It led her to look into schools in architecture. And although Emmons strongly encouraged her to pursue a career in engineering, Hempstead decided she wanted to take the architecture route, which would eventually lead her to her new position.

One of Hempstead’s main focuses as CEO of the firm is people. She is currently on what she called a “listening tour”, where she is sitting down with each of Schmidt’s 73 staff members to have intentional conversations with them. She said she feels this was an important thing to do, especially because the company had never had a change in CEO before.

“Naturally, people had concerns, or questions,” she said.

Hempstead is also interested in expanding the engineering aspect of the firm. Although Schmidt is primarily an architectural firm, she said engineering makes up about a third of the firm today. She said she wants to continue growing that aspect.

Continuing to practice and expand the firm’s core values is also on Hempstead’s agenda. These values include fostering new designs and ideas through a renewed commitment to excellence, expanding the services offered by the firm, growing the client base and geographic footprint, and growing Schmidt’s people “through a renewed commitment to training, culture, and expanding opportunities for merit-based career growth”.

Schmidt’s CPSM, Megan Scott, said the firm has expressed excitement in seeing where the firm will go under Hempstead’s leadership. She is very people-focused, Scott said, and understands the importance of meeting the people’s needs.

“Schmidt’s core culture is servant leadership, and that is something Sarah embodies,” she said.

Naomi HarwardComment