Issue: Transformation Section: Advisory board Pam Jeffords enjoys a diverse and dynamic professional career, as best described by a recent conversation with her family. After many dinner conversations about her day, her husband and four children finally recommended that she give them a more formal presentation about her new business ventures so they can understand what she does. Before her current entrepreneurial activities, Jeffords spent 20 years enjoying the growth and excitement of the telecommunications industry, serving in leadership roles for MCI, Qwest and PAETEC.
Pam’s current business ventures have roots in her active involvement over the past 11 years as a volunteer with the Mile High United Way. She joined a team of highly energetic women that share a common belief in the collective power of a group of woman. This group, called the Women’s Leadership Council, is now more than 3,000 members strong and dedicated to inspiring, educating and encouraging women to invest in their community.
Raised in the Deep South with several generations around the dinner table, she reflects appreciatively on the endless stories that were told year after year. She is known for using stories and analogies to get otherwise difficult concepts across and make them clear. She often refers to herself as the “stereotypical southerner”—there is no food she can’t fry, and she embraces some very traditional female tendencies and sees them as assets in many business settings. She believes women rally in situations of crisis—a death in the family, a missed forecast projection, whatever the crisis; women rally and just “do it.” She believes that if you ever want swift change, just find a pissed-off mom.
This past decade has certainly presented our community, our country and the world with enormous challenges that no one has escaped from. We are in the midst of an education crisis and economic instability, which affect families across the board. Two years ago, Jeffords and a few members of the Leadership Council had an idea that if there were a way to bring all the various women’s organizations and interests groups together to “rally,” it would be a collective powerhouse focused on extraordinary issues.
They acknowledged that even with all of these organizations in existence, it still remains a fact that women in business and community organizations are underrepresented in rank and influence. Several independent studies and consulting firms’ research agree that the performance of businesses and communities are positively impacted when women are strongly represented at board or top-management levels. Companies with the most gender-diverse management teams outperformed the industry average on many financial measurements.
With the Mile High United Way’s endorsement, Jeffords and her colleagues formed a for-profit venture, The Virtual Exchange (The Vx). The Vx is a membership-based organization that expands on the current foundation of women’s organizations and serves as the vehicle to provide a collaborative platform for growth to take on overarching issues. In other words, rallying a very big group of pissed-off moms, daughters, business leaders and mentors. Each initiative The Vx takes on will involve multiple women’s organizations and clubs, have a clear call to action, and establish the alignment of key people and organizations.
Jeffords is also part of the Denver-based consulting firm, Execution Specialist Group (ESG). ESG is a group of experienced industry leaders that assists corporations in the execution of their strategic plans. ESG’s “been there, done that” experience is valued by their clients, and the flexible, collaborative engagement model provides a confident approach to execution. To someone who does not know her, it may seem like she “just has a few different business cards,” but the synergies and alignment are clear when you meet her. Her desire is to align a group of individuals, create collective power and leverage that power to focus on extraordinary issues. When she speaks, you are not really sure which venture she is talking about, as the ideas are interwoven among the organizations. Her passion around philanthropy, her focus on defining women’s leadership and her desire to foster a culture of execution is threaded through everything she works on.
Recently, her eighth grader came home from school and said that one of the moms came to talk to his class, and he thought she should join the woman’s group. He added, “She seemed very smart and talked about the importance of leadership—isn’t that what you do?” While Pam was excited that her son might finally understand her work, she does think she might get a little concerned if her first grader starts providing referrals.
Pam earned an undergraduate degree from LSU and an MBA from Georgia State. She lives in Highlands Ranch, Colo., with her husband and four children. She currently serves as the CEO of The Vx, as the co-chair for the Mile High United Way Women’s Leadership Council, and is a member of ESG.