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Jennifer R. Farmer, Author of First and Only: A Black Woman's Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life
Jennifer R. Farmer, Author of First and Only: A Black Woman's Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life

Jennifer R. Farmer tells us how Black women thrive in work and life.

Jennifer R. Farmer is an author, trainer, and activist communicator. She works at the intersection of politics, advocacy, and the media.  

We’ve been talking about resilience. Who better to talk to than Jennifer? She has a book available for preorder, First and Only: A Black Woman’s Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life 

Jennifer grew up in subsidized housing in Columbus, Ohio. “It was not uncommon for me to lay on the ground to escape the sound of bullets,” she explains. “When you grow up in poverty and you grow up in constant fear that you will even be able to surviveit’s very difficult to see what your life could look like 1015, or 20 years down the line.  

And so if you were talking to that 11 or 12-year-old girl who was very aware of the fact that she was poor, very aware of the fact that she was smart, but still didn’t have all the opportunities that she may have seen others, she could not have imagined who she would become. 

College was not in my long-term plans. It was an attempt to escape the life I knew. Going to college was one of the best decisions I ever made. I gained more than knowledge. College gave me confidence. It gave me a new way to see the world and the belief that I was just as good as the next person.  


“I have tried to do two things throughout my career: make good choices and persevere no matter what,” Jennifer says. “What distinguishes me from others is that I do not give up. I will always improve. I think critically about what it means to thrive, even in atmospheres not set up for my success.”  

Where does her perseverance come from?  

“My father was very independent. He was very determined. I got that from him 

“My mother instilled in me that I don’t ever give up. If you make a can feel bad. Get up the next day and try againI’ve learned that if I make a mistake, if I do something wrong, if I fail, it stings. But it stings a little bit less if there’s a lesson that I can glean from it. If there’s a strategy that I can put in place that will help me help me advance.  

I think what’s unique about me is, my commitment is to keep trying. I may be down for season, but my commitment is to start again, even in the face of perceived failureeven in the face of personal disappointmenteven when it seems like I have no clue what I’m going to do. That willingness to start again is really what enables all of us to succeed.”  

Good Choices

Jennifer explains that is it not enough to persevere. But perseverance must be combined with good choices.  

Life reflects the choice that we have made,” Jennifer says. “I always think about ‘OK, how did I get here? What choice did I make 

And where do I want to be tomorrow. If I know where I want to be tomorrow, what choices do I have to make today to make that happen? When you think about your life, you can pinpoint different choices that set you up.  

For example, my decision to go to college. That set me up to think differently about the worldMy decision to surround myself with people who are different from me gives me an opportunity to see the world from a broader perspective. My decision to leave my full-time job and to start my own company is setting me up to have a level of agency that I’ve always that I’ve always desired. It gives me a level of freedom that’s important to me as a parent.”  

Jennifer’s Life Today

Today, Jennifer is a writer, trainer, and activist communicator. Her debut book, “Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide,” was published in 2017 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 

Through her writing, Jennifer focuses on everything from her faith to developing better leaders, to gender and race issues 

The founder of Spotlight PR LLC, a boutique firm specializing in communications strategy and training for leaders and groups committed to social and racial justice, Jennifer has provided services to national organizations and celebrities committed to social and racial justice space. 

Through Spotlight PR, she works and has worked with a host of high-profile clients. That includes activist, rapper, and businessman Michael Render, aka Killer Mike. She has also worked with the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and author Edgar Villanueva. She has also consulted with social justice organizations such as the Funders’ Collaborative for Youth Organizing, Repairers of the Breach, United Methodist Women, and Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice 

Jennifer’s work at the intersection of politics, advocacy, and media has helped those she’s worked with to stand out in a crowded media landscape.  

Lessons Learned:

We will all face difficulty. We will all face moments that leave us questioning everything. In these moments, we must commit to never give up. Readjust yes. Completely quit? No.  

Call to Action:

I would challenge the listener to remember that they are in a race with themselves. They are not competing with others, but with themselves.”  

Learn more about Jennifer R. Farmer: