Jill Cox-Cordova | Member Spotlight
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Founding Member & Host of Women Heart-to-Heart, a Journalist, a Creative Writer and a Professor.
Jill Cox-Cordova earned an honorable mention in her first personal essay contest at age 9. That experience is probably what first made her consider journalism. Well, that and the ability she was developing to ask strangers — tourists to Mammoth Cave National Park, where she lived from the time she was 5 until she graduated from high school at 17 — probing questions about their lives and interests.
Jill Cox-Cordova holds an MFA from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University. She worked as a journalist for 21 years at such media outlets as CNN.com, The Weather Channel, and MSNBC. She also freelanced for Essence magazine. As a creative writer, her publications include flash fiction in an anthology and creative nonfiction in Parks and Points. She works as a professor, but also conducts in-person and online workshops, plus editing services for first-time and established authors. She co-hosts with her husband, “I’m Right. I’m Right,” a podcast about relationships.
When it comes to the role of women at work today, what inspires you and what keeps you up at night?
I am most inspired when I see women uniting, encouraging, mentoring, holding, and pulling each other up and forward. There is room for all of us and our talents in the workplace.
I am troubled by the fact that most people hate going to work because they do not like their colleagues and/or managers. No need for a popularity contest; people do not have to like each other to work together, but my nighttime thoughts often focus on ways to fix this issue.
What’s your goal around that and why is it important to you? Why is that a priority for you right now?
I would love to be a part of a movement to make the workplace a favorite destination. I am currently assembling and curating ideas in the form of a nonfiction book, which I hope business visionaries will agree to interviews and tell me if any of my ideas are feasible at their companies. It is important to me because I learned firsthand 9 years ago that long-term workplace unhappiness often leads to stress, which can lead to debilitating health issues. It took me 6 years to recover. When I returned to a different corporation, I found the issues were the same, if not worse.
It makes no sense that many of us spend most of our time at a place that we dread, even when we enjoy the work itself. Something must be done.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve personally had as a woman at work? How did you try to overcome them?
In the past, I have presented innovative ideas, which the supervisor loved, but then I was told that someone else, not affiliated with it at all, would be the project manager. That project manager felt for me and still let me do all the work without supervision, which was great. The supervisor, however, opted to submit it for a major award without my name on it at all.
Another time, a manager said he did not like my idea for change, but then he presented it to other managers as his own.
Initially, the experiences silenced me. I was visible at meetings, but I did not talk. I soon realized that I was the only one not sleeping at night over the situation. I saw the importance of putting everything on paper. I now email my ideas to the appropriate people, before I ever speak them aloud to anyone.
Who or what would have made it easier? What do you wish you would have done then?
I would have loved having a mentor to discuss the situation and options with back then. I wish I had sought one out then, but I did not know who to trust.
Thankfully, I have taken time to network and find like-minded people, so my tribe continues to grow.
Many women are overwhelmed by the constant changes at work, frustrated with conflicts or disheartened by office politics, drama and draining emotions. What have you done in the past to help you get through such moments?
At the office, I learned to put in my earbuds and listen to calming music. At home, self-care ranks as a priority. To de-stress, my go-to exercises are yoga or even boxing a heavy bag.
Who do you follow on these subjects? Are there authors, influencers, leaders, sites, blogs you follow?
To see how others are handling the obstacles, I read Essence, Black Enterprise, and Forbes online sites the most. Lately, I have been following articles (from various sources) about what countries like Iceland are doing to equalize women rights’ in the workplace. I would love to immerse myself by shadowing a woman there and other places where women have won the battle to bridge the pay gap.
Do you participate in other women groups or communities? What have you seen work in such communities and what was missing for you?
I am a member of a female speakers association, and I applaud them for trying to make women more visible on the speaking circuit. What is missing is a sense of community. The organization gives ample opportunity for members to interact, but only a few ever do because they have expressed their belief that sharing info is helping their competitor. That makes me sad because I truly believe there is room for all of us.
Why is it important for women to be surrounded by other women and what is the role we play in each other’s lives?
It is important to be surrounded by a support system, a tribe of people who celebrate your triumphs because they know what it took for you to achieve it. We need people who understand our woes but will also help us find peace and resolution.
Generally, women understand women. I believe it is also important for us women to understand that we need others, too, to affect change.
What activities could we do so that we master together how to get back our zest, thrive on change, lead with grace and confidence and co-create the beautiful workplaces we all long for?
I love the idea of the “lemonade” sessions. I also enjoy using music to open people up to their own truths. Perhaps we will discover things we did not know about ourselves.
We could also be honest with each other about the situations we face and try to offer solutions we have found that worked.
I believe that if we pool our talents and interests, we could make small changes. In time, little things add up to big ones.
How do you see your role in building this community? And is there anything else you want to add that you think would be helpful for us to know as we are building this community?
This is a forum in which I feel comfortable talking, offering ideas, and listening, so I am willing to do that weekly.
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