Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Fairweather.
Hi Jennifer, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I started my career journey as an engineering student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. I slowly learned that I don’t like details and things as much as I prefer more human-centered roles. I eventually graduated with a degree in Business Administration. Working in retail through college gave me the experience I needed to shift my career upon graduation into the finance industry while still working with customers. I eventually moved into a leadership role, which I loved! After maternity leave (pre-FML), when I returned, my role was no longer available. So I was offered an opportunity to work in training. This was a blessing as I quickly learned I loved training and wanted to shift my career into human resources. Eventually a now lifelong mentor and sponsor offered me the opportunity to build and manage an HR function for Denver County Court. This is how I transitioned from the private sector into public sector HR. I eventually moved into director-level HR roles and had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful community leaders and engage as a volunteer with IPMA-HR. I also completed a Master of Arts in Human Resources Development and began my part-time role as an affiliate professor with Regis University.
With this experience, I was able to transition to my current role as CHRO for Jefferson County. My past experience has also allowed me to serve my profession as the 2022 President of IPMA-HR. In addition, have almost completed my Doctorate in Business Administration.
I’m thankful I have the opportunity to give back to the community, which is a big part, to me, of being a good neighbor. I am on the board of the Second Chance Center, and I am a member of 5280BOW, the Knights of Peter Claver, Ladies Auxiliary, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Nothing is ever smooth! Coming back from maternity leave without a job was terrifying. But looking back, it was a blessing in disguise as I found my true passion. Every time you take on a new role, change organizations, or even change sectors – it’s always a risk. Sometimes you question your decisions. But with struggle comes growth. If you never struggle or encounter challenges, you will never evolve into a better leader or be able to help others. Sometimes it’s hard to put ourselves out there for fear of failure — but its ok to fail — without failure, we end up stuck in the same place.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
As the CHRO for Jefferson County, I lead a team of HR professionals who provide critical services to the employees of the county. I am known for being innovative and service-oriented in a sector where this is sometimes challenging. I am most proud of many current and former employees who have excelled in their own careers. What sets me apart is building relationships by including others and developing talent.
Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
It’s ok to change careers. It’s ok to not know what you want to do. And all experience is good experience What’s important is to try to do what you love… what you are passionate about. I wish I understood the value of relationships starting out. We all need mentors, sponsors, and a good support system to thrive.
- Instagram: @jfairweatherchro
- Twitter: @fairweather5280