Where Are They Now? Jen DeGarmo, Class of 2006

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This post is part of an occasional series focusing on Leadership Development Academy graduates and what they have done, personally and professionally, in the years following their LDA experience. Please contact us if you would like to be profiled here, or would like to recommend a graduate for us to feature.

Jen DeGarmo
Jen DeGarmo, Class of 2006

Name:

Jen DeGarmo

Year Graduated:

I was a member of the 2005-06 LDA class … It is crazy to think that was 15 years ago!

What are you doing now?

I own and operate an advertising firm called FIDO.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Creative.

How did LDA help you on your journey?

I had already opened my own firm in 1997—long before I went through the LDA—so it was more about connecting with and learning from other professionals, and discovering more about my community.

Favorite song/band:

I can’t name just one! My taste in music is pretty eclectic.

What piece of advice would you give a new LDA participant?

Take advantage of the learning opportunities and the chance to connect with new people … You will gain something valuable from every interaction.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I never actually had much spare time until COVID hit. I’ve reorganized and downsized every area in our house since last March, so that’s off the list. I have a crazy amount of new books I’m working on. And, our youngest son is working on selecting a college this spring, so I’ll assist with that. I am also looking forward to spending my spare time traveling again when it is safe to do so.

Favorite Rock County event:

Downtown Janesville Incorporated’s Flannel Fest.

Where do you volunteer?

I pulled back on most of my volunteer commitments to focus on my business when the pandemic hit. As a result, my volunteerism is quite limited this year. I currently help out with Meals on Wheels and sit on the board of directors at Cedar Crest Inc. And, I still provide limited pro bono work for a variety local nonprofits.

If you could trade careers with any local person, who would you trade with and why?

If any local person is a fortune cookie writer, I would definitely make a trade!

When you reflect on your LDA experience, what is your fondest memory? Scariest memory?

I have a hard time remembering what I ate for breakfast these days, so I really can’t recall a specific memory. I do appreciate the friends I made and the retreat was a blast.

Future goal or dream:

I always thought it would be fun to author and illustrate a children’s book.

Any regrets?

None.

Why have you stayed involved with LDA?

I believe in the mission and the benefit it brings not only to the participants and businesses, but also to the community.

Jen DeGarmo with friends and family

Favorite quote:

“The road to success is not crowded. While most are looking for ways to take, the truly successful people are finding ways to give. And, with a giving attitude, every situation is an opportunity for success.” — Unknown

What was your LDA project? How did it impact your experience with LDA or in life?

We had an ambitious goal of exploring the feasibility of providing seamless and reliable wireless broadband internet access in Rock County. The LDA projects definitely help you learn how best to work with other professionals toward a common goal.

If you could choose a community project or need to help out with today, what would it be and why?

Perhaps I would look for ways to contribute to the community’s focus on positively impacting the homeless population.

Who do you look up to as a community leader/mentor?

My husband Craig DeGarmo has been a tremendous contributor to and leader in our region. I admire and appreciate that he continues to find ways to make our community even better.

How has LDA prepared you or your business for COVID? Any stories you would like to share with us?

I don’t know that any business was initially prepared for a pandemic of this magnitude. It has been wonderful to witness the businesses that have come up with amazingly creative and innovative responses and solutions.

Do you know of any new non-profits that might need community support now?

Downtown Janesville Inc. is not necessarily new, but is always looking for volunteers to further its mission of activation in and promotion of the downtown. It is a great group!