Dr. Leida Javier-Farrell distinguishes herself by means of her tireless commitment to community, especially but not limited to, her work with Hispanic communities. Dr. Javier-Farrell is one of the co-founders of the Hispanic American Business Association of the Gulf Coast, an organization that has a long history of supporting Hispanic economic and cultural development in the region. She is currently a lead partner and President of Javier-Calametti, LLC, where she lends her diverse background in workforce development, business development, and various nonprofit and corporate boards to her work as a consultant. Dr. Javier-Farrell currently resides in Mobile with her husband Stan; she has one son and two grandsons who also live in Mobile.
Tell us about your business(es)/employer. List services offered and/or work you do and how you describe what you do to others:
It’s a woman-owned business involved in different aspects of workforce development and collaborative business development. We offer strategic consulting services and solutions for businesses in a myriad of industries from hospitality to higher education to international sales.
Share any relevant education, accolades, experiences related to your success:
I received my B.A. in Political Science from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, my M.A. in Sociology at the University of Northern Iowa, and I earned my Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Foundations from Illinois State University.
I am so grateful to have received the Museum of Mobile “Herstory” Award; the Seven Seals Award (for the “Hire Our Heroes” campaign); and a Children’s Rights Award. I’m a proud graduate of the Leadership Mobile Class of 2012 and a Distinguished Alumni of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. I have also actively served on dozens of boards in our community.
What is your vision or hope for women in the Mobile and Gulf Coast communities?
Women are an untapped resource in so many ways even though more women are graduating from post-secondary education than men and are a force in creating small businesses. We have to learn to mentor and encourage other women.
Are there any specific policies and/or laws you would like to see changed to advance women?
Equal pay laws are in the books but are not always practiced. In some industries, such as education and healthcare, the largest proportion of workers are women and yet they are still very underrepresented or completely invisible at the CEO levels.
What advice or suggestions can you give to women walking the path of empowerment or struggling with self-doubt?
Keep your maiden last name; look for mentors and coaches, and don’t share your personal/family issues and complaints in the workplace. Also, keep updating, retraining, and refreshing your knowledge base.
Was there a moment for you that was a game changer, and can you tell us about it?
I was VP of Student Affairs at a university when I met my husband Stan at a party in Mobile. A year later, I left my life in Puerto Rico and moved to Mobile. I had to reinvent myself. It has been a great roller coaster of change. I had to develop a professional life away from friends, family, and university life. It has been quite a ride–a different life, lifestyle, career, new challenges, and new learning opportunities.
How do you feel about Forty Over Forty and being a part of it?
This is a significant program not only to recognize accomplished women but also to identify potential mentors. In general, women peak professionally past 40. In my case, I moved to Mobile when I was 45 and had to start all over again. It can be done. I hope I can be an example for women who return to the workforce after raising children or going through a divorce. I grew up in a university family, and my mother was hardworking and had so many accomplishments that were never recognized. I hope this program keeps recognizing women of all ages, especially those underdog, silent, hardworking women in our community.
Do you have a mentor? Who are they and how have they helped you?
I have had several mentors. The first was an incredibly wise man that saw my talents and let me bloom by empowerment and guidance. In Mobile, Beverly Cooper introduced me to opportunities and community involvement. She is still my first call when I need guidance.
How do you think professional environments need to change to support and/or be more welcoming to women?
Women still have to play a lot of roles in the “good ole boy” network. If we are too assertive or not emotional we are called “cold,” “impersonal” (and other not so nice adjectives). The behavior expectations are difficult to change. In my case, I often had to make the decision to confront men directly to stop some behavior; the times I did it in private did not work so I consciously did it in public with better upfront outcomes. It took guts and putting my job on the line. I also think some men need to learn to recognize the work of women and not take the accolades themselves because that can really hurt a team.
What/who inspires you?
Corny…but being able to help others! Being able to contribute with my knowledge and experience. Surprising myself with good outcomes even if no one notices. Happiness inspires me.
If you have children, what is the hardest part about being a working mom/wife/single mom?
My son’s family lives two blocks away. They have curbside food since I am a good cook! While my son was growing up, I was very dedicated to my job as Dean of Students that required long hours. In Puerto Rico, however, family does help a lot. I was so lucky to have a working mother who had time to help me and a stay-at-home mother-in-law who was a saint. The most difficult part was dealing with an old-fashioned husband who was often threatened by my accomplishments. But I have been able to start over.
You seem to really love what you do, tell us why:
I was born into a loving, educated family. I just love to be part of good things or changing things that can become better. It is probably just selfish to love what you do so much.
I just love to be part of good things or changing things that can become better. It is probably just selfish to love what you do so much.