Meet Jennifer Deamud
An accomplished authentic and humble executive with over twenty years of experience leading teams, establishing strategic direction, achieving operational excellence and helping organizations innovate, thrive and grow. Jennifer is known for optimizing resources to achieve goals and has a successful track record with writing grants, monitoring grant activity and reporting, and is well-known throughout Michigan and the nation as a forward-thinking leader who has a passion to serve others.
We had an opportunity to meet with Jennifer to talk about her views of leadership.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership means serving others; to live authentically, advocate fiercely and give back. The ATHENA principles align with what leadership means to me; here are a few examples:
Live Authentically. It’s been a journey for me to find my authentic self. My journey up to now has had a lot of wrong turns, addiction and recovery. Like so many others, finding my authentic self, took a little time and a focused effort. My authentic self is centered on three core values … Faith, Family and Service.
Build Relationships. Relationships are critical to leadership. They are the starting point in fostering collaboration. Nothing in this world happens in a silo. Throughout my career, I have cherished the relationships that have entered my life. People come and go in your life like seasons. For example, I recently connected with a woman I met nine years ago. We now have similar challenges and we are supporting each other.
Give Back. For me, giving back is incredibly important for leaders. To give back unconditionally is to help for no reason other than the desire to support others. Over the past 15 years, I have been humbled through listening to the stories of brokenness, anger and despair. I have been part of supporting others, finding love, hope and their definition of success. Giving back unconditionally changes a person. This makes you realize how unimportant you are when so many others have so little.
Who are some leaders that you’ve learned from in your journey?
In my journey to be a continuous learner, I have found that my servant leadership evolves as I continue to learn. I am always reading books in a continuous rotation of spiritual, motivational and professional. Many of the authors I am currently learning from are as follows:
Brennan Manning (spiritual): Brennan is a recovering alcoholic and a minister. Sadly, he passed away some time ago, I would have appreciated a conversation with him. His books focus on critical areas of servant leadership such as love, grace, forgiveness and empathy, all with the focus of understanding what is offered to us … and what we can give to others.
Brene Brown (motivational): Brene authors books that focus on shame, vulnerability, courage and leadership. I have found that her approach to sharing research through storytelling resonates with me. She is insightful, honest and authentic.
John P. Kotter (professional): John is a Harvard professor who has extensive knowledge and insight on “leading change” within organizations. In today’s world, regardless of your profession, we deal with change. John’s insights have guided me on leading change with organizations and accepting change myself.
In addition to continuous learning through various authors, I am greatly influenced by those who go through tragedy and persevere. These individuals have so much strength and courage. Their journey influences my leadership because they encourage me to “just keep moving forward” and only look back to learn. One quote a mentee shared with me as she was getting ready to exit Kent County Correctional Facility was “Look back to learn, Look forward to Succeeding.”
Why do we need more women in leadership roles?
Women in leadership roles provide innovative insights and bring unique leadership qualities that enhance and accelerate an organization’s growth.
Women are strategic thinkers. We have an ability to navigate immense amounts of information, connect the dots to form a strategy, and then have the skills to implement it.
Women are team players. We are more compassionate and can build lasting teams. Women have the desire and capacity to understand all individual needs on a team, mentor as needed, and encourage successful team outcomes.
Women are risk-takers. We are entrepreneurial! Women leaders understand that entrepreneurialism is a way to stay agile and innovative. Agility in today’s ever-evolving environment is critical to the long-term success of many endeavors.
What do they bring to the table?
Women bring leadership qualities that lead an organization to sustained growth, whether the organization is for-profit or non-profit. Women bring diversity of thought to leadership.
Transformational Leadership. Women are more transformational in their leadership approach. They lead through inspiration and building a sense of purpose within an organization. Transformational leadership increases team engagement and performance.
Innovative Mindset. Women are humble and honest, which allows them to look objectively at challenges and opportunities. They are innovative in looking outside the box for new approaches to move forward opportunities and alleviate the challenges that surface within an organization.
Empathy and Compassion. A woman leader brings empathy and compassion to the workplace. They tend to think more about the development and success of others, which supports business outcomes.
How are you leading in your career or community?
My entire career has been in small business. I have worked for three unique small companies and twelve years working for an organization that annually helped over 10,000 small businesses in Michigan.
I am honored to now be the Executive Director of the Manufacturing Growth Alliance (MGA). This role allows me to leverage established relationships, provides an opportunity to be an innovative thought leader to help Michigan’s small manufactures, and allows me to be entrepreneurial.
My community engagement has been extensive over the years. My giving back ranges from creating the Be the Change Endowed Scholarship for students who have been impacted by a parent being incarcerated, being a Girl Scout Troop leader for seven years, to mentoring women getting ready to exit the county jail for the past six years. Also, I serve on multiple boards, volunteer and am the incoming president of my community festival.
To me, business and community need each other. One cannot be successful without the other. I live authentically and continuously give back to others, both professionally and at a community level, all while staying centered in my values … Faith, Family, and Service.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Learn Constantly. Our world is changing so quickly. Being a continuous learner will keep you informed and keep you growing as a person. I was once told, “The more you know, the less you know.” Over the years I have found this to be true.
Act Courageously. Life is too short. All of us need to advocate for the causes that we believe in. Based on our experiences, we are drawn to specific causes. Learn about the cause, advocate and make needed change.
I welcome a conversation with anyone about the journey they are on…and the ATHENA principles.
What are your social media handles?
What is the best way for someone to contact you?
Please contact me via LinkedIn or email at jenn@MGAlliance.org