by Rachel L. Richardson

Developing Professionals

Committed to encouraging Team Blue’s professional development, the Valbridge Women’s Council (VWC) launched a public speaking class this fall. The first cohort involves eight members of the VWC, including two based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul office—Kylie Klehr, Senior Appraiser, and Molly Thompson, Production Manager.

Klehr and Thompson share their experience with the class and how it is equipping them to share their skills and ideas in a clear and engaging way.

For Klehr, also a member of the Future Leaders Alliance, this is an opportunity to invest in a skill that will help give her confidence to contribute more during office meetings, developing her leadership capabilities.

Preparing to Present

Each class participant has a presentation they hone during the course, readying it for either an internal or external audience.


  • The first VWC public speaking class has launched this fall, and nominations are open for the second round.
  • Kylie Klehr and Molly Thompson share what drew them to join the class, how the course is going, and how these skills will better equip them for their roles in Team Blue.
  • For the opportunity to learn from and engage with team members across the nation, Klehr and Thompson encourage everyone on Team Blue to become members of the VWC.

“My idea,” says Klehr, “is to go into either a high school or a college and give a presentation basically talking about the appraisal career.”

“I wanted to do that even before I joined this speaking club,” she adds, noting that the industry currently has a greater proportion of appraisers who are nearing retirement. Klehr’s hope is to help promote awareness of the industry, drawing younger people with diverse backgrounds to the profession.

“I thought the speaking class was the perfect opportunity,” Klehr says, “to help me—push me—to do that. Because it’s always been in the back of my mind, but now that I am learning these skills, it’s giving me the confidence and the courage.”

Thompson was drawn to the class through her desire to learn how to communicate more clearly during internal presentations, while also making the information easier to retain.

As a Production Manager, Thompson oversees a group of researchers who assist appraisers by gathering basic property details and setting up their reports—so the appraisers can focus their time on where their expertise is needed most. She also helps train new appraisers in these report elements.

With the skills she’s polishing in the public speaking class, Thompson will be better equipped to train her researchers and share with appraisers how her team can help them produce quality appraisals even more efficiently.

Thomspon heard about the VWC shortly after she joined the company and was excited to learn more about appraisals and the appraisal industry through the VWC webinars.

“I am always looking to learn and grow and be a better leader,” Thompson says, who joined the VWC shortly after she was introduced to it.

One VWC webinar was presented by Sarah Krisher, from Stand Tall, who is now teaching the first cohort of the public speaking class. This introduction to Krisher and her vocation prompted Thompson to join the public speaking class when it launched.

Growing in Confidence

Since it is a small group, class participants benefit from Krisher’s personalized instruction and feedback from their colleagues in Team Blue.

Krisher began the course with basics, says Klehr—like why we become anxious about speaking in front of a group, and the physiological reactions it can cause—and then moved into specific techniques for honing each person’s presentation, covering structure, organization, memorability, and more.

Krisher “has done such a great job of making everyone feel comfortable…. giving us the tools to make ourselves feel equipped,” says Klehr. “…She’s definitely been able to pull me out of my shell.”

“She’s great,” agrees Thompson, who describes Krisher as both understanding and encouraging. “[She] has really thoughtful insight in how to present yourself.”

Thompson has most enjoyed Krisher’s confidence-boosting tips and the perspective that while public presentations may be nerve-racking the first time if you persevere and try again (and again), it will get easier.

“It’s been really good,” Thompson says. “Still intimidating—I’m not a hundred percent or anywhere near where I’m as comfortable as I want to be, but it’s good to have reassurance… She has just done a great job at helping us through this process.”

Encouraging Involvement

For both Klehr and Thompson, the VWC public speaking class is an opportunity to invest in their professional development, honing skills they can leverage in their roles within Team Blue.

Reflecting on what she’s learned as a participant of the VWC, Thompson remarked that the Women’s Council provides the opportunity to learn from experienced appraisers, hearing about what they do, and how they have gained efficiency or learned to overcome challenges.

“It’s always super helpful,” Thompson says, “and it kind of reiterates that we’re all one big team. That’s the beauty of Valbridge, is that we can work together; there’s always someone to reach out to—to be not necessarily a full-time mentor, but somebody there that has gone through the ins and outs of appraising.”

“It’s not necessarily just for women,” Thompson adds, “it’s for men too—it’s for everybody. It’s a good support system.”

Klehr agrees: “It’s called ‘Valbridge Women’s Council,’ but I would love to encourage more men to get involved as well. It’s not just for women. They’ve got very insightful speakers and… I would definitely encourage others to be involved.”

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