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Jeanette M. Cochran

Updated: December 18, 2009 - 3:33 pm

Posted: December 11, 2009

Laundry business manager at Chesapeake Service Systems Inc. in Portsmouth

Home and family 
Suffolk; brother Charles Williams Jr.; sisters Jackie Alston and Joan Williams; and brother-in-law Chester Alston.
What you do in your job 
Create and maximize employment opportunities for people with severe disabilities.
Education 
BS in education, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Career progression 
After college, I taught in Del Rio, Texas, and my hometown in Weldon, N.C. In 1989 I relocated to Hampton Roads and began a 20-year career in the commercial laundry industry. It carried me to  locations throughout the U.S. and the Grand Bahamas Island. In 1998, I established CTCA Inc., a textile consulting agency. In 2008, I accepted my current position with Chesapeake Service Systems Inc. as the laundry business manager.
Proudest business achievement 
Receiving the NCWC East CRP Award from the National Institute for the Severely Handicapped.
Biggest factor in your success  
When I was younger, I measured my success by how much money I made. More recently, I measure my success by a balance between my work life and the amount of quality time I share with loved ones, along with focusing on matters of substance.  
Professional, business activities 
Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Volunteer and community activities 
Obama campaign.
How do you balance your time? 
It’s a huge struggle to balance time between significant other, friends, family, school and work. It’s something that I have to consistently work at. My “I matter” approach has definitely opened the “I’m only human” door that I never thought I would enter.  
Biggest obstacles you have faced 
In 2005, at the age of 46, I suffered a debilitating stroke. Following months of rehabilitation I was left with serious physical challenges.  I was consumed with self pity, humiliation, fear, resentment, loneliness. I thought that I had hit rock-bottom. This twist of fate led me to my true purpose and my career as an advocate for the disabled.
How have you overcome some of your challenges? 
Being positive and confident.  I believe challenges aren’t nearly as difficult as presented most of the time. It’s our own mental stability that’s the difficult part.
Professional goal in the next five years 
Decisions I’ll make in the upcoming months will have an impact on my future career.  Whatever avenue I pursue, it will center on advocacy for the disabled.
Advice for women in the workforce  
If you fail, pick yourself up, learn from why you failed and move on in a positive direction. Most importantly, “Lift as you climb.” Helping others steers you on the path of finding and fulfilling your purpose.
What gets under your skin? 
People who say, “I cannot,” without making an effort.  Every day I am a bystander of a group of people with mental and physical challenges who say “I can” and they “do.”