Today we celebrate Jazzemein Spies! YWCA Yakima is on a mission to empower women. #52women52weeks was created to celebrate and highlight the amazing women & #SHEros in the #yakimavalley. We are proud to share more about Jazzemein Spies.
What is one word that describes you perfectly?
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
Leadership comes in all types of different forms. Having served in the Navy for 21 years, I have met more than my fair share of poor leaders, but even more so good leaders- amazing leaders. People who have stepped up to the plate when no one else did. I would tell future leaders to note both the good and the bad and incorporate the good into your leadership style and make a conscious effort to avoid the bad. Some people are natural leaders, and some people have to work at it, when given a chance to lead, do which one works for you; either way gets results in the end. Play to your strengths, but also do not be afraid to ask for help in areas you are weaker in. I find that all too often, people are too afraid to say something that may make them seem less than an expert, especially women, so they don’t say anything at all. Don’t be that person, constantly ask questions, know when to ask for help, question policies and procedures when something doesn’t make sense and use your voice to advocate for yourself and your teams. If in a position of authority delegate within your teams capabilities. This gives people a sense of accomplishment and empowerment and they will want to work better for you, they will put in the effort if you do.
What makes you happy?
I love going to the beach and spending time with my two sons. There is so much joy in seeing the world through a child’s eyes. We go on a lot of adventures together.
How do you measure success?
The old me used to think that it was all about mission accomplishment. How effective we were, how much money was saved, how many fewer people we did it with. As I moved up in rank, and got closer to retirement, I realized that it was more about the people. I started doing what I could to help on an individual level. If someone needed time off to take care of a personal matter, I found someone to cover for them or I would myself. Did this skew our metrics? Sure. However, I ended up with a team of people who constantly went above and beyond their normal duties in appreciation for letting them take care of themselves. Now, success isn’t a purely numerical outcome, it’s how capable we are of getting results while accounting for the human emotional variable as best as we can.
What historical event inspires you the most?
There are so many events, but the one really inspires me is the store of ADM Grace Hopper. She made huge strides in computer programming and joined the Navy reserves during WWII. Her computing work has been invaluable and she wrote many coding languages. She was a pioneer of her time, not only academically but within the military as well. She actually was denied entrance into the Navy at first because of her age and weight, but she found a way and when she retired, she was called back to active duty and served even longer. Her persistence and genius are one of the reasons we have the computer technology we do today. I’m very proud to have served in the same field she did.
What is your favorite quote and why?
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. Robert Frost. His poem shows that it’s not just the big life choices that get us where we are, it’s the small ones we make day after day that also have a big impact on our lives. That the not choosing has just as much effect on your life as the choosing. I chose to delay education even though I had my heart set on it in high school and joined the military instead. This path isn’t one that many people take. For me it worked, letting me visit 117 countries, as well as get completely immersed in other cultures for years at a time. The path that I took got me where I am today, and today I’m content and happy with my life and that- makes all the difference.