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Getting to Know…Holly Duncan ’91

When asked about her superpower, it takes awhile for Holly Smith Duncan ’91 to come up with an answer.

“It’s the ability to throw something in the crock pot first thing in the morning, then go be a CEO during the day, then be a cheering mom at a basketball game for my daughter or son, then head to my husband’s game to be a supportive coach’s wife, and then get home and take care of my family when we’re all back together at night,” she says.

For Duncan, life is all about finding the right balance.  For the past 23 years, she’s been the CEO for Parkridge, a non-profit pregnancy medical clinic in Lubbock that has provided more than 23,000 women with no-cost specialized medical services, education, and counseling. She also served as a national consultant for Focus on the Family’s Option Ultrasound Program for six years, authored “Now What?,” a relational book for parents and teens published by Focus on the Family; and serves on the board of the IMPACT Association, a national organization of pregnancy medical clinics.

GTK -- Holly Duncan
Holly Duncan with (from left) son Ethan, husband Todd, and daughter Ashton

“I’m a wife first, then a mom, then a CEO, then a consultant,” said Duncan in an interview conducted shortly after speaking at a multi-day leadership seminar.  “It’s not easy, but you don’t have to sacrifice your marriage or your family to fulfill God’s call for your life. It’s a privilege to encourage others to be all that God has called them to be—even when that involves multiple roles.”

Parkridge offers services ranging from pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases (with treatment) to professional counseling, parenting classes, and post-abortion recovery groups.  Parkridge does not provide clients with abortion referrals or perform abortions, and Duncan says the organization knows of “close to 7,000 children who are alive today because Parkridge was there to offer Truth and Love to their moms (and dads) who felt as though abortion/termination was their only option but had a complete change of heart as a result of walking through our doors.”

“When they come to us, they are at a major crossroads and they feel trapped.  We are here to help them see the big picture,” she says.  “Parkridge exists to empower individuals to make informed choices about unplanned pregnancies and related concerns.  We provide the most up-to-date medical information in a non-judgmental environment of compassion.  We believe that every child and every woman is a gift from God, and our goal is to communicate that value to our clients.”

Duncan says she had just completed grad school when the Parkridge opportunity emerged.  “Lubbock had one of the highest rates of unplanned pregnancies and of STDs in the nation and a local church that was considering opening a center that would address those issues asked me to lead the organization.  I was planning to go into private practice as an LPC, but decided that this was what God was calling me to do.”

So with the philosophy that you don’t have to be an expert in every area, but you do have to be willing to ask questions of people who are, Parkridge’s first paid employee started talking to top pregnancy centers from across the country, learning business, marketing and management, while leading 40 volunteers, many of whom were twice her age, and learning how to manage in an outcomes-based world.  She brought tons of best practices as she started building the organization.

Duncan is proud of the impact that Parkridge has had on women in Lubbock and beyond, noting that “more than 40 churches in town believe in and support our efforts, which are on the front lines and in the trenches of a mission field—albeit in our own backyard.”

But others are happy to talk about Holly’s personal impact.

“I truly believe she stands as a shining example of the heart, character, and mission of Baylor University—to impact the world for hope in Christ,” says Marcus Murphy, senior pastor of Oakwood Baptist Church in Lubbock.  “Her years of leadership in Lubbock have literally impacted and changed thousands of lives for the better, and she is held in the highest esteem by all who know her.”

Duncan recognizes that she’s in the middle of a “very divisive issue” that is getting a lot of attention in the Presidential primaries, but says her team is proud to be able to “serve these women in the midst of a ‘Life or Death’ decision.  This is not rhetoric. It’s not a video of a sonogram. It’s their sonogram, their baby. Some of these women have been abused or, for many, the father of the baby may not be in the picture or may be pressuring her. We want to be there for all of the lives involved—the young woman, the young man and the unborn child. There are just so many layers to this ministry.  We’re pro-woman, pro-life, pro-family, pro-information, and pro-truth spoken with love.”

In seeking balance in her life, Duncan focuses on the advice of the late Jim Elliot, one of five missionaries killed in 1956 while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador: “Wherever you are, be all there.  Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

  • How did your Baylor Experience shape your life? From the first day I waved goodbye to my family and turned toward Waco Hall for Welcome Week as a freshman, to the day I walked across the stage at graduation in the then new Ferrell Center, my Baylor experience is one that I will never forget and one for which I will always be thankful.  My friends, my professors, my courses and everything about my years at Baylor played a significant role in the life I have now.  Baylor solidified my faith, provided direction for my future, spurred on my desire to learn more, poised me for success in my career, and inspired me to be all that God has called me to be.
  • One of the most memorable things that happened to me at Baylor was… My experience with Welcome Week—both as a participant and as a leader. As a freshman who left her family and all of her friends behind to go off to school, Welcome Week set the stage for the importance of living a balanced life with Christ as the hub of the wheel.  It taught that the body, the mind, the spirit and relationships were all vital components of an individual seeking to live a committed Christian life.  It reminded us that hard times would come, both in college and in life, but that if we sought to keep those areas in life in sync, in tune and in line with the “hub” (Jesus Christ), then we could navigate whatever life brought our way.  My leadership roles in Welcome Week also helped solidify in my life that I wanted to help others—not that I had all of the answers, but that I could point them to The One who did.
  • My favorite place on the Baylor campus is… Anywhere with huge trees and beautiful flowers, especially since I am from the dry, windy part of west Texas that is known for its great people, not its topography. I spent most of my time on the Baylor campus near the Education buildings, but the entire campus is beautiful! So much has changed since I graduated, but I still love everything about it…the old, the new, the history and the future. Baylor’s campus and all of Baylor Nation has such a rich history and a bright future.
  • One thing that’s not on my resume is… My family and their own personal accomplishments. While I worked hard to achieve my educational and professional goals and licensures, my most important and treasured roles are that of wife and mom.  While their accomplishments belong on their own resumes, I am grateful for the opportunity to have impacted their lives and am hopeful that my support and prayers have shaped their lives. Though the “intangibles” are likely not bullets on a resume—they are significant and they have the potential to be passed down from generation to generation.
  • My approach to saying no for requests for my time or resources is… To carefully and prayerfully determine whether it’s merely a “good” opportunity to invest my time, talents or resources, or whether it’s the “best” opportunity for me at the time. We live in a world of numerous “good” opportunities; however, everything I say yes to means that I will have to say no to something else.  I am honored and grateful when others call on me; but if it doesn’t fit in to my most important roles, goals and outcomes for the season of life that I am in, then I must graciously decline that particular request.  My philosophy has always always been that I’d rather say “I’m glad I did” than “I wish I had.” In order to maintain that philosophy, there must be a system of separating the good from the best.
  • Right now, I’m enjoying listening toLauren Daigle, who’s a fairly new praise artist.
  • For breakfast, I eat… a protein drink and fresh fruit.
  • My proudest moment of being a parent to this point is… Partnering with my husband to raise children who love The Lord and truly seek Him in every area of their lives.  We have sought to instill in them a Colossians 3:23 attitude of doing your very best, with all your heart in all things for The Lord.  My husband, Todd is an NCAA Division 2 basketball coach at Lubbock Christian University, and both of our children are “successful” athletes—not just for their sports accolades, but because they know and understand that God can use even sports to shape their character, their work ethic and their heart, and to point others to Him.
  • Every woman should know how to… Pray diligently for her husband and her children.
  • I get exercise by… working out and “running” around the state cheering on my daughter & son in their athletic events and rooting for my husband’s team.
  • One cool thing that’s on my bucket list… a trip to the Holy Land/Israel with my family with Ray Vander Laan as our tour guide.
  • One of the great satisfactions of my life has been… Pouring in to others what The Lord has taught me and what I’ve learned through my education and experience.  My heart’s desire is to always maintain a teachable spirit.  The world says that nearly 25 years in a specific field makes you an “expert” in that industry.  I believe that unless you couple that experience with humility and a desire to keep learning, that your effectiveness as a leader in that field (or even as a parent) is significantly reduced. The Lord used Baylor University to help me build a firm foundation for lifelong learning.

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