Dr. Patt’s Story
Patt Hollinger Pickett has a favorite life message which grew out of her frustration. As she listened, she saw a significant pattern of clients justifying lack of progress toward their goals by complaining they did not “have enough time.” She began challenging their “whining” with her original quote inspired by the frequency of the lament.
“We all have the same 24/7. What we do with our time becomes our priority.”
Her extended message points out that no one gets “24/8”. She encourages clients to avoid “priorities by default” and make conscious choices to use all their time meaningfully.
This value-based philosophy was modeled by her parents, who together raised her as their second (and most obstinate) child—of seven. She had one older and four younger sisters and a brother. She observed her stay-at-home mother “catch dust before it landed” and manage money well on a slim budget while attending to 7 kids’ needs. Her working-class father labored hard to provide most of the basics for nine people. There was never enough time or money, yet Patt witnessed that family priorities were met through the design of her parents. Patt’s childhood career calling was to be a teacher—she had enough “practice students” among her 5 younger sibs—who could be coaxed into pretending with her.
As an employed, married mother of three young children, she earned her doctorate in Education, specializing in marriage and family studies. Based on her PhD, she earned her marriage and family therapy license (LMFT) in addition to the two other professional licenses she held.
Today, Patt and her husband together have five adult children and eight grandkids. They enjoy regular family activities, golf, fitness, travel, and home entertaining. Patt spends her individual leisure time with writing, art
projects, gardening, sewing, and gourmet cooking. In discussing food, she quips, “I never met a French fry I did not like.”
Discrimination, Open-mindedness, and Fairness
After earning her undergraduate degree, Dr. Patt followed the influence of a friend steering her away from education and accepted a position as one of the few female probation and parole officers in her state. After two years, she advanced and became a United States probation officer---only the second woman ever hired in that federal court district. She learned about open-mindedness, fairness, and being the target ofsex discrimination. These were intense personal lessons which contributed significantly to her way of relating to her life and to others.
During her 11-year career with the federal government in the 70s-80s, Patt experienced a paradox about people. The predominantly male probationers and parolees under her supervision (the so-called “bad” people) were forthright and respectful toward her as a female authority figure. The all-male US probation office management staff (the so-called “good” people) engaged in direct disrespect and practiced bold discrimination against her as a female colleague.
Despite seven consecutive years of top “excellent” performance evaluations, Patt was passed over twice for promotion in favor of less qualified males. When she registered her objection to her chief, retaliation began with the denial of a merit raise for which she qualified. Ultimately, because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had no authority over the federal courts or employees, she hired a lawyer and filed a sex discrimination lawsuit through the Judicial Equal Employment Plan (JEEP). JEEP was a relatively new process in place for federal employees, but it had not been tested.
After 3 years of defendant-created case delays, paired with increasing retaliation toward her from the probation office chief and supervisors, Dr. Patt took available parental leave with her third child. She planned to return. However, in her absence, she was given an unscheduled and non-policy evaluation which rated her performance as “unsatisfactory”--- despite being on approved parental leave for months.
Finding it untenable to return, Dr. Patt resigned her position and applied for benefits. Based on the findings of a state unemployment board hearing, Dr. Patt was awarded monthly unemployment benefits under the “constructive discharge” clause. The state board found that “no reasonable person” would be expected to continue working in the hostile and retaliatory environment created against her in the US probation office by her all male superiors.
A few years after her resignation, she lost her discrimination case--- but then appealed. Eventually, she won a favorable judgment on appeal while representing herself in federal district appeals court (because her attorney had passed away). But Dr. Patt received no monetary compensation or reimbursement for the considerable legal fees she had earlier incurred for years—over $25,000. The defendants were represented for free by the US Attorney’s office. The unfairness stunned her. And her “qualified” success was achieved despite a huge hurdle before her. The major “de facto” defendant, the Chief US District Court Judge was the BOSS of those who directly discriminated against Dr. Patt. Her successful pro se appeal was heard in the SAME federal district court where the chief judge presided!
As a lingering positive impact from this experience, she often recalls a time-honored adage from childhood that goes something like, “There is so much bad in the best of us, and so much good in the worst of us, that it hardly behooves any of us to render judgments (talk smack) about the rest of us.” To her, judging others is a pointless wash. Open-mindedness is essential.
Shortly after leaving government service as a probation and parole officer, Dr. Patt established a private mental health practice in the mid-west. She has continued serving the needs of others since and is currently doing business as St. Louis Emotional Intelligence Center-HireCoach® LLC (STLEIC).