Iona Holder Profile

Iona Holder




Colonnade Article Interview (2012) 

Colonnade Article Interview (2013)

Valdosta Today Article (2014)

Iona Timeline

Iona Holder likes to take every day one single step at a time. This isn’t easy when one is a teacher, student, mother, wife, business owner and an over-involved community member.

Raising five kids with a mixed family and managing countless organizations, the just turned 40-year-old has a lot going for her, and she said she’s just getting started.

“I am of the complete belief if you expect more, you will achieve more.”

One would think the devoted Milledgevillian had lived in the tiny middle Georgia town her whole life. She’s involved in over 20 different local organizations, a graduate of Georgia College, founder of the local festival Deep Roots and owner of a downtown coffee shop- Blackbird Café. However, it is quite the opposite. Holder wasn’t even born in America.

Originally from Germany, it took more than a few years for Holder to find Milledgeville. She was born in Germany, grew up in Colorado, attended high school in Augusta, Ga., and finally ended up in Milledgeville.

“I’m from all over, but now Milledgeville is my home town,” she said.

It didn’t necessarily begin this way though. Holder, similar to many other students, came to GC to eventually transfer to University of Georgia. However, once she found Georgia College, her heart was full. She loved the town, the college and everything that accompanied the small town college life. Attending Georgia College was a huge milestone in Holder’s life, but years later an even bigger opportunity would present itself- teaching at her alma mater.

“The teaching was never about just teaching and getting a job done, or taking a test or memorizing facts. It was about inspiring somebody to think beyond what they thought,” Holder said.

When the chair of the GC theatre department, Karen Berman, presented the idea to Holder, she immediately said no. She wasn’t interested in teaching, plus she didn’t have the experience or the tools to even know where to start. But a witty conversation with Berman changed her mind.

“She asked me if I wanted to come share my ideas, and I said yeah, I definitely would like to do that.” Holder said, “Then she was like well would you want to do it two times a week, maybe? And I told her yeah, I guess I can do that. She said well then you come do that. You call it sharing, I call it teaching… So I kind of got tricked into teaching initially… One class became two classes and so on.”

Now a teacher and student of Georgia College, Holder felt immersed in the community. But something was missing. Having been in Milledgeville for over 20 years, Holder had seen the ins and outs of all the small businesses to run through the tiny, two blocks of homegrown downtown Milledgeville. She decided Milledgeville needed something new.

“We would leave the movies or after dinner, and we would say I don’t want to stay here, but I don’t want to go home yet,” Holder said. “I wish there was somewhere we could just sit and talk.”

And then it hit her – a coffee shop, a good-vibes café with local artists and live music, every hipster college kid’s dream. After wrestling with countless names and ideas – like “The Copy Bean,” a paper copy hub and coffee shop – Holder and her business partners, thankfully, decided on Blackbird Café.

She chuckled, “We were all sitting around one day, and we were like you know what this town needs? A coffee shop. But we didn’t know the first thing about coffee.”

The ten-year anniversary of Blackbird is on Dec. 8. This didn’t come easy though. It took weeks without a paycheck for herself and her associates, while working the front counters and managing, and countless weeks of wondering.

“There were days where I would say, let’s just close this, we can’t do this.” Holder said.

Eventually, things began looking up. “It became more of how to we want to grow this into what we want it be, instead of just keeping our heads above water,” she said.

Holder followed her dreams and created a business she was proud of. Every detail of Blackbird Café was thought out to a T, down to the paint color in the skylight.

“That paint color is called ‘The Good Life,’” Holder said, “and I wanted that to shine down into the store.”

With a booming café adding new and exciting menu items as well as local art, Holder looks forward to the future of Blackbird, but remembers her past and encourages those who want to follow their dreams of opening a business with caution.

“Make sure that it’s something you’re passionate about, and imagine having to do it for free for two years,” she added. “More realistically for five years.”

Despite the turmoil and troubles, Holder still adores her little café. She said, “[Blackbird] has been a journey that was just incredibly rewarding.”

Holder also embarked on multiple business ventures in downtown Milledgeville, including founding the bar Buffingtons with her brother. She no longer holds a stake in the companies, but she takes pride in what the restaurant has become.

Founding a successful restaurant can sometimes take an entire lifetime. Holder has created two. Since 2002. All the while she was directing, co-directing, writing, consulting and assisting in more than 30 plays across Georgia, most of which were performed at GC.

“I was able to blossom and Karen [Berman] continued to allow me the multitude of opportunities and I will be forever grateful to her,” Holder said.

Her students and mentees are where her legacy at the GC theatre lie. Taylor Hembree, junior mass communication major, said “Iona really takes time to learn how each performer ticks and what makes them think and perform well, she uses this to adapt her teachings to each different person, making every single actor a star of the show.”

Holder graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theatre, a master’s in public administration and is currently in school to receive her MFA in creative writing.

“My perspective is now more of ‘I only have this much more time learn to learn everything’,” she said. “Instead of like, ‘oh god I still have two more years left.’”

Her original intentions were to perform and direct, but because of the courses in creative writing at GC, she found herself loving the writing process.

“I’ve always been terrified of it,” she said. “Which is why I wanted to start there.”

Holder continues to assist and write plays when she’s not busy with her extracurricular involvements. Currently she is an advisory board member for Art As An Agent for Change, an executive board member for the Milledgeville Players and the Mainstage Hospitality coordinator for, and founder of, the Deep Roots Festival.

“I was able to see the community from a multitude of perspectives, and it helped to appreciate Milledgeville and everything it has to offer so much more,” she commented on being so involved.

Deep Roots has undoubtedly been one of her greatest accomplishments. Herself, her husband Jimmy Holder and another couple founded the festival on nothing short of good intentions. “We were all good friends and we just wanted to make Milledgeville better,” she added.

Her husband handles a lot of the design aesthetic, while Holder prefers to assist with her first true love, the performances, but one of her favorite parts about Deep Roots is working with her husband. She said it keeps her happy and entertained.

“Well he’s actually colorblind,” Holder said with a laugh. “He designs all these great things and sometimes I have be like ‘hey, that’s actually purple.’”

Iona Holder’s story speaks for itself. She’s a woman with a big heart and big dreams.

Her husband Jimmy Holder said, “Iona wants a better world. She consistently invests time in people in efforts to help them reach a better self. She is a wonderful woman and I am a better man for it.”

Her accomplishments outweigh her tough times by a long shot, “I don’t think there is any way I thought this was where I would be at 40, but I feel really grateful. Not only that this is where I am, but just everything,” she said.

Holder still embraces the small town of Milledgeville and intends to continue devoting herself to her town while still enjoying her every second.

“I’m aware of the horizon,” she said. “But I like staying right here.”



Cognitive Surplus Review

We have just wrapped our discussion on Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky and I have to say I was really impressed. The book was definitely my favorite of our readings for this class so far.

The best literal definition of the cognitive surplus I could find was via Urban Dictionary: “A word.. to describe the free time that people have on their hands to engage in collaborative activities, especially as applies to web 2.0” The most important word I took from this was “collaborative”. That’s what the cognitive surplus is- working together, engaging, communities. 

The web (or web 2.0 generation) has been evolving and expanding over the past decade and has become an entity in itself. But now, with the cognitive surplus we see communities forming out of this online society. People coming together, most of the time for the greater good of some people or a community as well, to get things done. “Humans intrinsically value a sense of connectedness” (Shirky, 59). Web 2.0 is becoming to online productive generation. 

My favorite chapter of the book was one on motivations, Intrinsic and extrinsic. Shirky discusses how intrinsic and extrinsic motivations move people to do what they do online. However, I felt as though the two  crossed each other more often than we think. His example was a test on subjects seeing how differently they react when given an intrinsic motivation (being competent and knowledgeable) and the extrinsic (being paid real cash). The subjects showed an obvious amount of declined interest when they did not have the extrinsic motivation of the cash. However, sometimes I feel as though money is very motivating, but also having acceptance extrinsically to make us feel better plays a huge role in what motivates us as well. “The link between intrinsic motivation and public action was never deep” (Shirky, 95). I liked his examples, but I feel as though lines get blurry on this topic. 

Here’s a great Ted Talk on the Cognitive Surplus also. .

Lastly, a fun review of the book here.

Image via clouddave

What do you guys think on the topic of motivation?

Have you liked the book so far?

Do you plan to continue reading it? (I already have a little bit)

Edelman Academic Summit 2014

Following this past week on Twitter and via blogs and post has been very eye opening as a mass communications students. Following the twitter discussions and via Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky helped to open my eyes up to the productiveness (if that’s a word haha) of social media! My thinking this has also been a product of the class but seeing these ideals played out in the real world has been awesome.
Also, seeing that companies are now listening to employees and marketing through social media to push the consumers, not the product. Some of my favorite points:
The employees matter. Connect them, empower them. Let them be heard and it will reflect on the company in a positive way. Having blogging websites for employees to connect all over a state or even the country is the perfect example.
Another point I liked was that this increasing media platform has also created higher standards in graduates. Being a mass communication student on the way to graduation, having a career is very important to me and also very scary. Edelman points out that it’s difficult. We can’t just graduate and go into “journalism”. We must find exactly what we want and go into it whole heartedly. We have to focus in and be knowledgeable on a subject and be able to express our knowledge through social media as well.
Overall I love seeing the increasing professionalism in social media. The fact that an academic summit incorporated twitter frequently was great. Once again, I’m hoping society will learn to be as productive.


Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff has been an amazing read so far.

The further I get into the book, the more I realize this isn’t just a textbook for college, this is a life book written for the future of the “groundswell”. Every mass communications student must read this!

The definition of “groundswell” is a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations. (Groundswell, 9)

I feel like I’ve always thought “oh technology will rule the world”. wrong. People run the world through technology. Another quote from the book: “The groundswell comes from the collision of three forces: people, technology and economics.” (Groundswell, 10). The book is very informative on marketing and how businesses need to use social media tools to move forward in our society.


The book sets up business plans very simply, but intelligently. One example is POST.



Overall I love how the book has set up marketing strategies and how to succeed.



What do you guys think? Do you like the book? Do you think you will benefit from it in the future? Any thoughts at all are appreciated! [Or tweets @katieskogen]


Images via Pinterest

Why you should have a Twitter (& the success that comes with it)

Tonight I’m blogging about one of the most popular social networks, Twitter! I’m relatively new to the Twitter world, but in my personal opinion, it is a fantastic tool.

The wikipedia definition of Twitter is “an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read short 140-character text messages, called tweets.” The site was created and launched in 2006 and reached worldwide popularity by 2012. in 2013, it was the most popular social networking site (wikipedia).

No doubt times are changing and we are heading to a more technology-dependent society (Groundswell!). Twitter has created a business ad model that no one yet has been able to match. Instead of pesky pop-ups or obnoxious blinking banner ads, Twitter has created a quick, subtle take on advertising. With promoted pins, very occasionally sneaking onto your timeline, you finish reading the ad before you realize it’s an ad. Like this one here. Image

However, most of us want to see things we will ACTUALLY buy. And the idea of cookies tracking our every search, and offering us products we only searched for that one time is annoying and invasive. So we, the consumer, should be able to CHOOSE what ads we want to see. This is where Twitter struck advertising gold. YOU pick what YOU want to follow. Love Nikes? Follow Nike. Love Urban Outfitters? Follow Urban Outfitters. The possibilities are literally endless. And all these companies have to do is send out a short, sweet tweet once a day and boom! They’re in your head. (Almost) subliminal advertising. It’s genius. Not to mention, many companies do giveaways and coupon codes if you follow them. It’s free advertising with a mutualistic relationship between consumer and producer.

Look at these articles that cover the genius ideals of Twitter advertising!

1.) Forbes

2.) Twitter Advertising Guide

3.) Twitter Opens Advertising to All Users

So what do you think of Twitter? Is there a flaw in their advertising technique? What do you think of companies who use Twitter?

And finally, for those of you who are new to the Twitter world, whether business or personal, here’s a quick infographic of Twitter etiquette. Thank you Pinterest.


Socialnomics 2

Now that we have finished the book Socialnomics by Eric Qualman, we are required to do a response to the entire book. As I stated in my first review, I think the book is a fantastic read for any Mass Communication major, or even Marketing or Business degrees as well. It’s a insightful breakdown of the new world we live in where social media dominates the advertising aspects.

Social media is well on its way to controlling almost every aspect of a business. Where we stand now, to have someone hired, they have to have their own social media checked out by a hiring team and a profile on LinkedIn. Outside of the business world, consumers are run by social media as well. I’m guilty of it myself, but really, what are you more likely to notice? An ad in a newspaper or a tweet in your TL? Exactly. Children who cannot even read yet are having tablets created for them [] This is the world we live in. And it will only continue to follow this path.

How did I feel about all the information in the book?

I agreed with most of it, whether or not I believed it was right, but honestly I think some of the examples were a little extreme. I believe Qualman glorifies the idea of social media and fails to see the inevitable negative aspects. In the very first chapter we discuss “Sally Supermarket” and how she uses her social media so productively. (Qualman, 4) and how the elderly man prints out his status updates to make sure he’s living a productive life. While I agree with him on almost all of his business points regarding social media, his real life examples seemed a little utopian and far-fetched.

So my goal, now that I finally have a Twitter, is to make sure I use my social media productively. Not in the same ways Qualman exemplifies, but to be a productive tweet of the 190 million every day (

So what do you guys think? Do you agree with everything Qualman stated in Socialnomics? Is there anything that really surprised you? What about the statistics page? Are we a “social media addicted” America?

P.S. I love infographics, check this one out!



My Favorite Blog

The second post for my blog gave a little more freedom for me to express what I really like, not that I don’t loooove Socialnomics (;

When I read that we had to review our favorite blog, I didn’t have to think twice because I knew exactly what blog I wanted to review. My passion lies in design. I love all types of design, whether it is interior design, graphic design or any type. In a perfect world, I would have gone to SCAD and have a degree in Interior Design and make a reasonable salary and design the world however my heart desired. However, reality got in the way of that. I’m all for chasing your dreams and not letting anything stop you, but there’s not a lot of money in interior design. In fact almost none at all, and most designers end up designing hotel lobbies. And for some people that might be fun, but I want to do houses and I wanted to do them exactly how I pleased, and the more research I did, the more I realized this was an unattainable dream. Also, SCAD is like the most expensive school in Georgia. However, I still love to find inspiration and play out my passion whenever I can. The blog I’m choosing is an interior design blog, with ideas and DIYs and I fell in love with it after I discovered it through Pinterest. I adore Pinterest.

Go Look!

Girls- have you ever seen someone’s boards on Pinterest and their likes and know if you ever met, you’d be best friends? That’s kind of how I felt looking at hers. Our tastes are tooooo similar. My house looks like a less cute (I’m broke, but I try) version of hers. It’s crazy.

Her blog is updated pretty regularly, I get on probably once a week and there’s always something new and interesting. She posts a lot of pictures, which I love, I’m a visual learner and photographs inspire me more than anything. She also ends all of her posts with questions for her readers. You’d be surprised how many comments she actually responds to as well. I like her blog because it’s very direct and inspirational. (And freaking adorable)


What do y’all think? What kind of blogs do you like to follow? Do you prefer ones where you know you can talk to whomever is writing them or do you like reading from a distance?

& try and tell me her house is not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. ImageImageImage

chat it up on Twitter as well! #GCWeb14 or @katieskogen


Socialnomics by Erik Qualman has been a very thought-provoking book so far and I encourage everyone to read it. The chapters are quick and to the point and it relates a lot of real-life experiences that most of our generation can relate to.

Being a Mass Communication major, I am constantly surrounded by teachers telling me how social media is the future. However, I guess I still never completely grasped how much companies bank into their social media advertising. The more I read in this book, the more I realize how completely and utterly dependent we are on our social networking. Not just Facebook and Twitter, but blogs and Google and many other sites. Social network sites have become their own verbs. We Facebook, Google and Tweet like it’s second nature. I’ve never been that into social networking, and teachers gasp all the time when I tell them that, but I never saw it as relevant to my life. I love newspapers and magazines and books all in print. It’s weird that I’m called old-fashioned for that, when in reality all of these things becoming digital has been very recent. The more I read and discuss and see statistics, the more I realize social networking really is the future. I guess I need to hop on the bandwagon now.

Definitely recommend the book to all Mass Comm students.

The last section I read talked about email being “dead”. Of course, it is not used as often as it used to be; but the book stated a 22 year old had never used email. I mean, really? We need email addresses to sign up for every aspect of social media. You can’t open a facebook without one. Also, with college becoming part of everyone’s lives today; colleges give out emails as well to keep students updated. I just don’t think email will die as fast as they think it will. Upon trying to research if statistics proved whether or not email was dead, I came across a website literally labeled “email is not dead”. Check it out.

What do y’all think? Is email dead? Do you still use yours, daily, monthly, never? Any thoughts on the book in general are appreciated.


Katie Skogen