For Edwards it’s always been about ‘showing up’

Cathy Edwards Edwards Creative Services  Chief executive officer 

Cathy Edwards

You can see Cathy Edwards’ name on the sign of the company she and her husband Steve launched back in 2005, but if you look at this community closely, you can see her fingerprints everywhere. 

Their business portfolio shows Edwards Creative Services has evolved from producing simple signage to custom fabrications, and interactive media and massive displays.  The Milan company has wrapped man-sized golf balls and crane-sized golf clubs, book and blood mobiles, and everything from pace cars, police squads and Zabonis. Their team has built parade floats, Plinko games and putt-putt golf greens. Their signs herald the finish line for marathon runners and their work even adorns your favorite frozen pizza, breweries, and brat makers. 

Look closer still, and you can see Ms. Edwards’ fingerprints in the community as well. She serves on the boards of the John Deere Classic Board, Vera French Center and the Grant and Virginia Brissman Foundation. She is a past chairperson and board member for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, and a corporate sponsor of WQPT’s Imagination Station. 

“I love seeing and hearing about other people’s successes,” Ms. Edwards said. “You go to those events, or you serve on a committee or support an organization and you learn so much about their struggles, but more importantly, you learn about what they’re doing in the community, about the stuff that’s going right. It lifts you up. It fills you up to know there are people out there willing to make a change. Our community is amazing, and there are amazing people in it.”

In nominating Ms. Edwards, Angela Rheingans, president and CEO of the DeWitt Chamber and Development Company, wrote that she is no “quiet resume builder.”  

“If she has said “YES!” to the cause, she is 100% engaged, invested, and inspired by the mission. One of Cathy’s most outstanding traits is that she inspires all women to be their authentic self. At her core is a kindness that enables her to be honest and direct, with consideration of the importance of long-term relationships and trust,” Ms. Rheingans added.

Ms. Edwards credits her parents, Tom and Mary Thompson, for raising her with an iron work ethic and a calling for community service. Born in Galesburg, Illinois, the family moved to the Quad Cities when she was 14. Her father is still alive, but her mother passed away in 2001 when Ms. Edwards was 32.   

“She was a force. It’s the only way I can say it. My mother used to tell me ‘you show up,’” Ms. Edwards recalled. “Do whatever needs to be done. You supported your family, you supported your community. You didn’t need to be the smartest person in the room, the most fashionable, the one with the most money. You just had to show up and figure out how you could best contribute.”

Ms. Edwards became a single mom at 19, working three jobs while attending St. Ambrose in Davenport. She worked as a bartender, private investigator as well as with juveniles through St. Ambrose and the Iowa Crime Prevention Center. 

“It was fun. It was exciting. I wanted to change the world. I really wanted to stop the recidivism we see in juveniles. That was a real dream. If I wasn’t doing this (being Edwards Creative’s CEO) I think I’d probably be working in that field.” 

She graduated with a degree in criminal justice in 1992. It was a tough time for her, “a constant grind,” but she remembers her time with baby Timothy, fondly.  “I wouldn’t change any of it. He was the greatest gift to me.” 

Steve Edwards adopted Timothy, and the couple were married in 2004. They also have a daughter, Molly, who married Colton Jones, and they have a 10-month-old son Billy. 

Being a grandmother has been amazing, Ms. Edwards said. “It’s such a blessing.”

“I have watched her tirelessly run her business with her husband, lead important and complex volunteer roles in our community all while being an incredible friend and dedicated mom/wife and grandma to her family,” Amanda Hess, vice president of donor relations and marketing at Impact Life, wrote in her nomination. “She is one of the exceptional leaders in our community who lives and breathes local while expanding the talented service of her team beyond our community borders.”

This profile was originally published in the QCBJ’s 2024 Women of Influence publication. The QCBJ is excited to introduce this new awards program to the Quad Cities. Our inaugural class of Women of Influence are an inspiring group of trailblazers, role models and leaders in their workplaces and in their communities. They have overcome adversity, taken chances and committed themselves to making the Quad Cities community a better place for all of us to live, work and play.  

The QCBJ will present the 2024 Women of Influence awards on Thursday, May 23, from 5:30-8 p.m., at the Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf. Tickets are still available to the event, which includes networking, dinner and remarks from the winners, by visiting

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