15 Years: Looking Back with Gratitude
This year marks 15 years since I left my job with FEMA and co-founded J&M Global Solutions. Since October is also National Women’s Small Business Month, this seemed like a good time to share my thoughts on the last 15 years leading a woman-owned small business.
In 2008, we were limited in our understanding of the private sector and the challenges of starting a business. However, we were motivated by the idea that we could truly help communities and people better recover from disasters because we understood both the federal and local aspects of that work. Over time, we shifted and evolved from helping states and local communities to also working for several federal government agencies to help them execute their disaster mission, which we think is the hardest, most important, and most rewarding mission in government.
Back when it was just the two of us working at our kitchen tables, we would envision a future where J&M didn’t just mean “Michelle and Gil” working on a client project. We were deliberate and conservative about growing the team, and with the help of those early J&M’ers, we are now a team of more than 50, working out of a headquarters office in Alexandria, VA, and across the US. We’ve been privileged to play a role in supporting so many of the major disasters over the last 15 years, including Hurricane Sandy, the 2017 Hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Maria), flooding in Nashville, wildfires in Colorado and California, COVID-19 pandemic, and now, the wildfires in Maui and Hurricane Idalia in Florida.
As I reflect on what it’s been like to start and lead a business for the last 15 years, I’m grateful and want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me and our team achieve 15 years of growth, success, and impact.
- Thank you to our customers, who have invested their resources and trust in us. From our first customers (The State of Mississippi, Eastern Kentucky University, Nashville Electric Service) to the many federal agencies we support today, including the Dept. of Commerce Economic Development Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, and the Small Business Administration (SBA). We are honored to have your trust and the opportunity to support you in your most important mission.
- Thank you to the business leaders who have so candidly and openly shared insights and lessons with me and provided J&M with opportunities to grow our portfolio and our team. Even in a competitive business environment, there are some amazing business colleagues out there, cheering for and celebrating each other’s success!
- Thank you, to my family, especially my parents who never said “OMG, what are you doing?!” when I told them I was quitting my job and starting a business, my husband who supports me and cheers me on, even on the hardest days, and my daughter, who thinks I go to work every day to “make the donuts.” She motivates me every single day to work hard, do work that matters, do it with integrity, and teach her that girls are smart and assertive, lead, and can still be there for daycare drop-off, princess tea parties, and bedtime stories.
- And finally, thank you to our current J&M’ers and our alums (once a J&M’er, always a J&M’er) for doing great work and making this a great place to work! Thank you for joining me on this remarkable journey!
As I look to the future, I’m excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for J&M Global Solutions. Our core values and commitment to excellence will continue to guide our decisions and our work.
As we wrap up National Women’s Small Business Month, cheers to 15 years of J&M being a woman-owned small business! And to the women out there who are thinking about starting or have recently started a small business, go for it! And call me, I’d love to help you and cheer you on!