Jenée Velasquez is the Executive Director of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, a prestigious organization dedicated to philanthropy and community development. Velasquez began her professional journey as the Chief Executive Officer of Midland County’s Economic Development Corporation, Midland Tomorrow, where she played a pivotal role in driving economic growth and prosperity. Prior to that, she served as the Manager of Economic Development Services and the first Downtown Development Authority Coordinator in Midland. She also worked for the Manhattan, Kansas Convention, and Visitors Bureau, gaining valuable experience in promoting tourism and enhancing the local economy. Jenée is active in her community and serves on the Huntington Bank Community Advisory Board, the MidMichigan Health Board, the Midland City and County Joint Building Authority, the Council of Michigan Foundations Board, the Michigan Municipal League Foundation Board, and the Greater Midland Community Center’s Trustees Board. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Kansas State University, a Master of Business Administration degree from Michigan State University, and completion of an executive education course at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Today Jenée and I discuss her career and how she’s been able to give back to her community. She explains how she blazed trails and opened doors for other women to serve in leadership positions, and how it’s both a pressure and an honor to be the first. She recounts her experiences as a leader of Midland Tomorrow, the unique challenges in representing the opinions of the other women in the room, and how the relationships she formed supported her. She details her involvement in the Senior Olympics and her love for volleyball. Jenée also describes being the first in her family to go to college, reveals how her husband helped her achieve her educational goals, and highlights the importance of having a sense of humor.
“It’s looking for people that inspire you to be better and learn new things.” – Jenée Velasquez
This week on Executive Decisions:
- The mission of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation
- Jenée’s accomplishments as a first-time leader
- How Jenée broke ground for women in leadership
- The challenges of being a first-generation college student
- Jenée’s journey to leadership
- How networking paved the way for Jenée’s career path
- The importance of learning to accept help from others
- How to balance work and life as a parent
- The importance of integrity, kindness, and humility in leadership
- The necessity of taking risks in your personal and professional lives
- How philanthropy affects communities
Our Favorite Quotes:
- “It’s about accepting help from others, learning from others, and reaching back to make sure that all the things that were given to you, you’re sharing with others too.” – Jenée Velasquez
- “Be thankful for the little things. Sometimes, those other things, they can wait.” – Sarah Delahanty
- “When you are in a leadership role, be easy to follow.” – Jenée Velasquez
Connect with Jenée Velasquez:
About SYM Financial and Executive Decisions Podcast
Executive Decisions is a show for business leaders. In each episode, host and financial advisor Sarah Delahanty sits down with executives and local experts who serve them. Together, they tackle some of the harder questions that business leaders face today. From inspiring creativity in the workplace, to managing company politics, to making the best choices with executive compensation, taxes, and lifestyle — our show delivers stories and lessons learned across many industries and lifetimes.
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