Home News Local News Public affairs director lives faith, family and work, in that order

Public affairs director lives faith, family and work, in that order

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For Juanita Jennings, raising her boys is her hardest and best job. Seven-year-old Patrick III and his brother, 3-year-old Ryan, are shown here playing Monopoly with their mom. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Juanita Jennings, public affairs director for the city of Roswell, believes in going all in with everything she does.

“I started my broadcast career right out of college,” she said, “in marketing and promotions for radio, then an opportunity came to work in the insurance industry for Lovelace Health Plan in Albuquerque. It was that life moment where you ask yourself, ‘Do I go into the unknown and take a chance, or do I continue doing what I’m really good at?’”

She took a chance.

“It was that leap of faith, that change that helped me develop new skill sets,” Jennings said. “I feel like I grew up at Lovelace, learning how to work in larger corporations, dealing with different personalities and styles.”

Not one to fear change, Jennings never expected to be where she is now, but she’s enjoying the journey.

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“If you had asked my younger self about me living in Roswell, I’d have said ‘No, probably not,’” she said. “I’m originally from Albuquerque. I met my husband in college. He is from here and has family here. This is his home, so why not plant our roots here and grow our family here?”

With an unmistakable gusto for life, Jennings knows she’ll never finish learning and growing.

“That’s how I feel about my whole life,” she said. “I think it’s constantly growing and developing. You have to be passionate about what you do. My job is very demanding and it’s always changing. If not for embracing change, I don’t know if I would be right here.

“I’ve been with the city a little over a year. I took a position in an office working for the city, and there had been so much change of leadership. I had spent my past career dealing with leadership change and a changing environment. I had six bosses in about eight months.”

She knows the difference between a consistent striving for excellence and perfectionism, and isn’t afraid to take a stand.

“When I make a commitment, I am all in,” she said. “I want to do my job with excellence. You can’t always be perfect. I have flaws like anybody else, but I think of my mistakes as opportunities to learn. I want to give it everything I have every day. That’s hard being a mother and a wife and having a career. It requires a balance.”

Having committed to building her family in Roswell, she is fully invested in bringing out the best Roswell has to offer.

“I’ve had people ask, ‘Why Roswell?’” she said, “and my response is ‘Why not Roswell?’ I am now in a position to change that mindset. I am passionate about doing it. Every time there is a journalist asking me to pitch them, I am willing, sign me up. My job is to give the best impression of our city and talk about our assets and the opportunities that are here for people who want to move here, build a business here, visit here, whatever that might be. That’s my job and I take it very seriously.”

While she wants everyone to have a voice, she accepts that someone is always going to be unhappy.

“Every decision I make, whether it be professionally or at home,” she said, “may not please everybody. That’s something I struggle with. I want everybody to be included, to be heard. When I lay my head on my pillow, I have to ask myself, ‘Did I do the right thing? Am I right with the Lord? Did I make the best decision for that situation?’”

Balancing home and work is one of her greatest challenges.

“With my son, I often wonder, ‘Did I set enough time to spend with him?’” Jennings said. “Now I have two and that was a game changer. I have mom fails all the time. Once I owned that, I was more comfortable dealing with it.”

If not for her faith, Jennings would be lost.

“I am working on my faith all the time,” she said. “I think as a parent, it’s important to implement that. We read the Bible every night. For us, it’s faith first, family next and then work. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but if you have that foundation of faith first and then you have your family, I think everything else falls in line.”

Jennings feels very strongly about being a career woman raising children.

“I think it’s part of being female,” she said. “Having a career and having children, it’s a constant struggle of work-life balance. Sometimes work does have to come first, if there’s something really big, it can be a tradeoff.”

Living in the moment is one of her greatest gifts.

“When we’re there, we need to be present,” she said. “They have school, we have work, the weekends are for our quality time together. We make the most of it. Our job is to teach our kids how to be responsible adults, to be kind, to be honest, to be hard workers. Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had.”

There was a time that she saw her future in front of a news camera.

“Originally, being a mom was a far-off plan,” she said. “I thought I wanted to be in broadcast media, sitting in front of a news desk as an anchor. They make you do that in school and when the red light came on, I froze. I knew then it wasn’t for me. I like being the director behind the camera.”

She then cut her teeth in publicity work and found she had a flair for it.

“Then I started working at the Pan-American Center in the production office,” Jennings said. “I thought I wanted to be a tour manager, traveling with bands. I got to work with the publicist for the band Creed. That was phenomenal.”

In the midst of all the glory and fun, life handed her a destiny.

“Then I met this guy from Roswell and the rest is history,” Jennings said. “I never thought I would meet the perfect person for me, but I knew it immediately. We just had our 14th anniversary of our first date. He is my partner in life and my best friend.”

Through it all, Jennings said it’s all about knowing what’s truly important.

“You have to have your priorities,” she said. “You have to give it your all. We intend to knock it out of the park every time, and sometimes we don’t, so it’s important we learn from those times. I think it’s important to know what you want, know your expectations, have an end game, a goal. At home, my job is to raise those boys to be good, honest, kind men. That’s a big job, especially in today’s world.”

Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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