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Woman to Watch :: Jessica Lawrence

Jessica Lawrence is the Director of Cairn Guidance. Cairn Guidance “brings decades of experience in education and adolescent/school health at the local, state, and national levels.” The organization supports other organizations through partnership development, project management, and strategic development. Their goal is to create healthier schools and communities. Jessica Lawrence continues to make the world a better place with her enthusiasm and hard work.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a 43 year old enthusiastic, extroverted New Englander. I currently live in Eastern Kentucky by way of Portland, Oregon. In 2015, after a bicycle journey across the US solo, I fell in love and left Portland to be with Jamie and his three children in Morehead Kentucky. His children are 11, 13, and 16 years old. We have two dogs Ase and Hope and I enjoy cycling, international travel, cooking and watching soccer.

Who/What inspired you to venture into your career field?

I started my career doing exactly what I wanted to do since my own high school experience—teaching 7th graders health education. I taught in a predominately high poverty community and learned that the pressures of raising test scores while some of my students were hungry and even homeless, and it wasn’t something I could ignore. In 2003, I was hired as the Health Education Curriculum Specialist for the Oregon Department of Education, where I provided assistance and professional development to health education teachers across Oregon. In that position, I also worked on a Centers for Disease Control grant that allowed me to bring schools and districts through a systems change approach through the lens of the whole child.

I left the Oregon Department of Education in 2006 and pursued a career as a national school health consultant, working with state departments of education, state departments of health, large school districts, philanthropy and non-profits working to create healthier schools and communities for students and staff. I write health education curriculums, write about school health issues, help publish organizations pilot curricula in schools, facilitate and train educators on school health issues, and offer keynote addresses at conferences.

What is your typical day like?

I have three types of days…

  1. Wake up, walk my dogs 1.5 miles, soak in the hot tub and begin work around 9am from home or my co-work space in downtown Morehead. I have conference calls and work on the work… meaning getting ready for a presentation, consulting with a client about a training I might do for their teachers, work with a Foundation to help inform them on how to spend their dollars, develop facilitator agendas for an upcoming workshop. I end my day with another 1.5 mile dog walk and usually another form of exercise (yoga, run, bicycle ride, swim), and dinner with my family.
  2. Travel day: I drive about 1-2 hours to the closest airport and fly off to another part of the country. I pass time by doing work on the airplane.
  3. Day on the road: facilitating a training, keynoting a conference, meeting with a client. These days usually include checking out a local restaurant, getting to know my clients better and at times going for a run in a new community.

What are some pieces of advice you could give to readers?

1. Sleep! Get enough sleep. Prioritize it. I get 8 hours per night most of the time.

2. Exercise while on the road- even if you just walk on a treadmill or around the neighborhood by your hotel.

3. Stretch… my body aches after hours in a plane, sleeping in a different bed every night, driving to and from airports or to an event. Stretching is incredibily important.

4. Love your work! Find something you are passionate about. I rarely dread a day of work.

What do you think has helped you the most with your success?

Having amazing advisors has helped me the most with my success throughout my career. Also, a business coach, fabulous accountant and financial planner to help balance the personal and professional side of things. Building in self-care is also very important. I love what I do, so that helps immensely.

How do you reward yourself after a hard day’s/week’s/month’s work?

I either enjoy traveling around the world (I love traveling), or when I’m at home I just enjoy relaxing and spending time with my family.

What is one sassy saying or quote that inspires you? Why?

Listen to the Wind. Someone shared that with me as the last piece of advice before I pedaled my way across the United States and I’m still trying to figure out what he meant, but I have hundreds of interpretations of its’ meaning.

How do you give back to your community?

I volunteer on two advisory boards locally. Where I live, it doesn’t always feel like it fits me culturally, but I care about the community I live in, so that helps make me feel like I belong and grounds me. Another way I give back to my community is by donating to organizations I care about such as Planned Parenthood, my local recycling center, pet shelters, and LGBTQ youth organizations.

How did you get to where you are today?

A family that loves me, supports me and has really nurtured who I am.

Thank you for sharing your advice and knowledge with our readers! To learn more about Jessica Lawrence and Cairn Guidance, check out the website here. 

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