In recognition of Women’s History Month, EDC is publishing a series of blogs about the women behind EDC. Our fearless leaders, our board members, our executive committee, our guiding lights. To kick it off, a piece by an entrepreneur, a visionary, and only the second woman to lead EDC’s board, our former chair: Ms. Janice Brown.
Tell us who you are and what you do. Why did you choose your career?
Some time ago, I was called a “Chief Executive Optimist.” I don’t think that’s a bad description of who I am, but I was not born sunny. My optimism is earned. Now, people see me as a lawyer and an entrepreneur. I had my own firm and am now part-owner in my fabulous new gig, Meyers/Nave. I also have a side hustle called Beyond Law, wherein I teach lawyers and law students how to be successful from the inside out. I call it building “soul muscles.”
My journey started with my father who joined the Air Force when he was 17 and my mother who married my father, when she was 17. They have been married for over 64 years. My father tells me that I am legit. Over five years ago, I lost my only brother to a heart attack. He was my little brother, but he was about 6’ 4” tall. I remember the day that my father called me to tell me that he had died. I was in New York City about to give a speech and I fell to the floor, ice cold. Of course, I recovered and gave the speech, through tears, which I dedicated to him. I typically don’t share my sad stories, but those stories are what caused me to purposefully look for the good in my life and in the eyes of others. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I don’t see that light, but I still always look for it. I learned that we are most often able to see it if we look for it.
My first “lucky break” was getting a scholarship to Gonzaga Law School. I had been accepted by other schools, but Gonzaga’s scholarship allowed me to finish law school early without much debt, as I had a full ride. After five years of undergrad (I spent about five months as a USO singer traveling throughout Korea, Okinawa, Guam and the Philippines – that was the “lost” year), and two years of law school, I was accepted into the Department of Justice in the Tax Division as a Trial lawyer. That was another life-changer, as San Diego was my docket, which is how I ended up in this loveliest of regions.
I have been married before. I am happily single now, with a full life that includes my parents (who I plan to help move here, as soon as COVID gets a bit more manageable), my friends, my love of books, music, movies, wine, good humor, and good hearts. I remain active in San Diego and have been a part of the fabric of this city and region for my entire time here. I truly love it.
What does your involvement in EDC mean to you?
Lauree Sahba recruited me to EDC, which perplexed me because I didn’t see any true connection between the organization and myself. But I quickly learned that my perception was in error. EDC is a community of like-minded and like-hearted people who believe that economic inclusion is the path forward for our region. The ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ approach that we see too often on the news isn’t the prominent feeling at EDC. It’s community; it’s family; it’s given me oh so much more than I have given it. I recognize that being the EDC Chair enhanced my profile in this region, but more than anything, it taught me to be myself and to connect authentically. EDC staff, respectfully, is the best in town.
What role do you see women playing across the San Diego region in the next five years?
First, women are going to need to recover. COVID hit women a lot harder than men, primarily because women still bear the majority of benefits and burdens that come with family. We also hold the heart space in many of our organizations, and if we are too tired or too stressed or too bored, that heart space is weakened. So first, we’ve got to recover. Next, I think we need to self-define. So often, we look to others and seek a sense of our value from what is reflected back to us. We need to change that. We are overdue for that change. We need to lead from that heart space. I had the chance to do that at EDC and it’s a beautiful thing. EDC has been the home for many female employees who are contributing to our region in amazing ways. And our board is rich with talented women who can frankly do anything they please. We just need to decide and then—watch out!
Share with us your favorite quote.
“Your biggest fear is that you are powerful beyond measure” from a poem by Marianne Williamson.
What advice do you have for women in business?
Be You. Fully. Richly. Just You.
Gratitude expands. Name one thing you’re grateful for: Me – I have a lot of love in my life. Now you.
— Janice Brown (@JPatrice4080) March 4, 2021
Follow along with Janice on Twitter: @JPatrice4080.