Prestigious Women Awards Honorees: Jennifer Brin Kovach
Jennifer is the South Florida director for the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University. Tasked with establishing the division; she has created a full-scale entrepreneur and nonprofit leadership training division. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s and master’s Degree in social work and a master’s in business administration.
Favorite quote: Perfect is the enemy of good.
Fun fact: I am a second generation native of Fort Lauderdale. My father, daughter and I were all born in the same hospital, Broward General.
How do you unwind after a long day of work? I enjoy playing with my three-year-old daughter and taking family walks with her, her father, and our dog.
What challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them? I set large goals for myself that often take years to achieve. From earning three college degrees over seven years; to finding a job where I could equally apply my degrees in Social Work and Business with my passions for solving problems and helping others. Three jobs and eight years later after graduation, I finally began the career I had been striving for: helping small business owners and nonprofit CEO’s develop and grow their organizations. Life places many distractions in your way, but for me, perseverance is in my blood. I visualize the goal, prioritize and I just keep moving forward toward the goal post. I keep a positive attitude, see the silver lining in negative situations and ask for help when all else fails.
What has been the most monumental moment of your career thus far? If you asked me this question a year ago, I would have said my rewarding experience as the President of the Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale in 2018-2019. But 2020 has been a year like no other and now I would say leading during a pandemic has been the most monumental moment of my career. A major shift in our services, interactions and mindsets was need as the world-wide pandemic spread through our community and the world. When the stay-at-home order went into effect, my team and I had about 130 small business owners and nonprofit CEOs actively enrolled in 10 programs that met in-person. The best way I felt we could support our clients in their time of need was by keeping our programs up and running rather than postponing. Overall, I believe my team and I did an amazing job! I am proud to report, we rose to the challenge and successfully graduated seven Executive Program classes in 2020, exceeding our 2019 levels. Not only did we rapidly adapt to new technology and a new environment, but we did so all under the stress of experiencing the danger of a global pandemic. As their leader, I was so impressed with each of my team members for helping us offer our programs online. In circumstances like this, people can have the flight or fight response and we all showed what fighters we are. Our clients said many times how grateful they were for us for sticking with them and still offering the programs. Taking a moment to reflect on all the things that transgressed this last year…from canceling venues and events; learning virtual video platforms and teaching others; to reformatting and rescheduling sessions; to being abreast of the latest COVID-19 business support resources; recrafting all of our communication; to hosting our first virtual graduation; and finally, to adding an additional executive program class to meet the demand. We did this all from a new work environment, often alone in our homes instead of our usual in-person team office environment. There were many days and weeks we were working long hours to help us achieve everything. I am very proud of my team and feel very lucky to be their leader.
Who are your role models? My husband and my parents! They are kind, generous, and hard working. They have always given me unconditional love and supported me in all my endeavors. My husband is managing director for a national financial services firm that provides support to small businesses. My father was a business owner of a landscaping company and my mother was a Registered Nurse and leader for a national hospice organization. While they all are/were successful professionally, family always comes first.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? For those of you who take on too much. It is alright to say no sometimes and “no” is a complete sentence.
What advice would you give a young woman at the start of her career? Be an avid learner and volunteering is a great way to learn. Whether for a committee at work or a cause dear to your heart, step up and help make the world a better place and you will receive as much as you give.
How does being a woman has impacted your career? For me gender is no different than any of my other physical features: eye color, height, or age. Once I leave the mirror in the morning, I don’t think about it again. For me, my positive mindset and hard work ethic are the features that have impacted my career most.