I grew up as a pastor's daughter, influenced by spiritual teachings and learning how to be in close community with others. We lived in three different states, among three different cultures, classes, and careers, from the West, to the South, to the Midwest. Being in a pastor's family, you witness the emotions that come with serving people in all different capacities: weddings, funerals, illness, celebrations, conflict, family & relationship challenges, disaster, and rebuilding. I believe this was the beginning of my journey into my own leadership and support roles. I learned first-hand the values giving and serving others. These lessons stayed with me and guided me as I pursued my own career, education and family.
I'm most proud of staying the course and pursuing my education. For me, this was highly important, as I dreamed of having a college education since I was 8 years old. From a young age, I was anxious to start school (my husband often jokes that I was born with a backpack, ready for college!) I loved to learn and read, and you'd often find me in a tree or on the swing set, pondering life and it's meaning.
I worried my dream fell apart when I married young and started a family right away. We were stuck surviving in those early years, and I took a break from school and gained a steady job to help support our growing family.
Then, in my mid-twenties, I took time off from my career to stay home with my two young children. That was the year my dad became severely ill and passed away. This was a pivotal moment for me. In his last years of life, my dad and I had the chance to form a better relationship. I'm sure he knew he didn't have much time left here, so he spent as much time as he could with us, loving our kids, and offering us down-to-earth wisdom over hazelnut coffee. He would stop over every afternoon after work, and sit with me and my two babies at our kitchen table in our quaint Victorian apartment. We'd talk about life, money, faith and raising kids. He told me, "Jen, don't get so busy surviving that you forget to live. It's so easy when the kids are this little to have to survive. Take it from me. I know. I wish I didn't miss some of that time when you were little." My parents both knew that they wanted us to embrace life, and live it to the fullest.
After my dad passed away, and once the grief started to lift, the fire started burning in me. I took it to heart. I was tired of surviving. I wanted to thrive.
I headed back to work and decided to go back to school. My husband and I needed the income after his company closed unexpectedly. I was passionate and ready for change. I knew I wasn't going to live like this forever.
It was time to move forward in a new way in our lives.
Before I knew it, I was back in school, and growing in my career. We had 3 kids now, and needed full-time care for them, so my husband and I decided he would stay home while I focused on school and work. It was a bold move for us, having to steer away from a traditional model. But it worked.
We grew, and we managed, and we moved forward.
I kept growing at work, eventually moving into leading teams, and gaining new opportunities. We still had some challenges, and I had to take breaks from school on several occasions.
And while I still believed in my dreams, almost a decade ago, I was expecting our fourth child, and I had to take a break from school again. It was the height of the financial crash, and the pressures were mounting at home and work.
It was then that I started to find my calling.
My roots never left me, and I worried I had missed out on some dreams by pursuing a more traditional career route. I struggled living in the either/or mentality for far too long, leading me to question my path and constantly question myself instead of truly enjoying my growth.
For years, I struggled with all my different roles, as a working mom, as a spiritual woman who also loved having independence and earning power, while still having a heart for people and service.
I started to really SEE. No more going through the motions, hanging on to fears and self-doubt.
And I saw how many women resonated with the same challenges-the constant balancing act of family and career.
In church life, we were often taught that we had a calling, something that would make our mark on the world.
I wanted to figure out what was calling out to me right now.
I knew I longed for more. I desired a life that would integrate my whole being, where I would live free, bold and courageous, and also deeply rooted, soulful and compassionate. I wanted to provide for my family and serve my community, bringing all that knowledge and soul together to create a meaningful life, fully owning my voice, committed to the present, and encouraging others to do the same.
I did deep work to transform from the inside out, committed to pursuing a wholehearted, integrated life.
My husband and I committed to rebuild our lives. We served our community in group coaching experiences centered around freedom. We decided to both go back to school and commit to careers we'd love.
Out of all this, I longed even more for a place dedicated to celebrating the wild-hearted, creative, and authentic woman who leads with love.
So here, we celebrate ALL the ways women lead.
For the past 20 years, I’ve developed my career while raising my family, learning to fully embrace and enjoy being a leader, businesswoman, wife, and mother.
I also finished my life-long dream of getting my degree, graduating in 2014 with a Masters.
All these experiences have taught me the high value of self-awareness and powerful service to others, as well as learning all about resilience, leadership, and personal transformation.
And I want this for you.
To live a beautifully integrated life as a woman and a leader, living with impact, intention, and freedom.