Four years ago at Busboys and Poets – Brookland, Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie held a party for his outgoing chief of staff, Jeannette Mobley. Hundreds of people from various parts of the DMV region, including DC Mayor Muriel Bower, former Mayor Vincent Gray, Attorney General Karl Racine, and other notables showed up. The diverse gathering so intrigued Busboys owner Andy Shallal he stopped by. Shallal wanted to know why all these people showed up and asked Jeannette directly, “What do you do?” Her response, “I’m a community leader.”
Those who know her would chuckle at the description. Indeed, Jeannette Mobley has helped her community to grow. She is also an entrepreneur, wife, mother, grandmother, political advisor, mentor, and career trailblazer. As one of the top women leaders in the telecom industry, working for AT&T and later Bell Atlantic Verizon, she helped build the careers of dozens of African-Americans, women, and minorities.
Some would say she has it all, but the long-time Washington, D.C. resident attributes her success to one thing. Hard work. Jeannette remembers that as a mantra from her parents while growing up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, then a small coal-mining town. “My mother was from Birmingham, Alabama and for 36 years she worked six days a week. My father, a coal miner, also worked as a bricklayer,” she added.
Jeannette left Uniontown for D.C. which she found, still somewhat segregated, a lot different than her hometown. “I grew up in a town with immigrants, people of different races and religions and we all got along despite our differences,” she says. Again, her upbringing would serve her well as she began work at corporate giant, A T & T.
At the telephone company, she started as a directory assistant operator where she quickly became known for her work ethic. She also joined the Communications Workers of America. Though later going into management, she remained a strong supporter of labor unions.
During the 1980s and 1990s, she was responsible for the management staffing for 23,000 employees. Unhappy with the lack of diversity among managerial candidates she pushed upper management to hire and promote more diverse candidates for leadership positions. She also initiated the establishment of an African American Male Empowering, Mentoring and support group across the Bell Atlantic Verizon footprint, called DRUM, the Development Roundtable for Upper Mobility, Inc., which is still in existence today.
Later, she became a college recruitment executive for the company and recruited at HBCUs and Ivy League schools across the MidAtlantic and Southern regions.
During this time, she attended Trinity College and also graduated from the University of Michigan Executive HR Management Certificate Program. She also became a Certified Career Coach.
With the first employee buyouts for Bell, Jeannette decided to take the buyout and start her own coaching firm, and later founded The JPM Group, LLC a management and human resources training and consulting firm, with her husband, Pierpoint.
Jeannette met Pierpont Mobley at a party in the 1960s. He was then an activist who had already planted seeds for his own successful career that would involve working for four U.S. presidents in the Office of White House personnel. Pierpont is also one of the nation’s “History Makers™, a virtual history platform of prominent African-Americans. The couple raised two children, Anthony and Patricia and have two granddaughters. She says of her husband, “He is one of my biggest cheerleaders.”
Today through the JPM Group, she and Pierpont train employees on various areas of human resources and management topics for corporate, public and non-profit organizations. They have worked with the US Department of Agriculture, National Archives, Food and Drug Administration, Verizon, Blacks in Government, USDA Forest Service, Swedish Embassy, Seabury Resources, and Lee Hecht Harris.
The couple also serves as mentors to dozens of successful entrepreneurs and political leaders locally and nationwide. Their ascent into politics started with the late legendary Ward 5 DC Councilman Harry Thomas Sr. The couple has provided leadership consultation to McDuffie, Racine, former Mayor Vincent Gray, and former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent B. Orange. Orange is now CEO and President of the DC Chamber of Commerce. They have also have given support to Mayor Bowser, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and worked on several other campaigns.
Jeannette recently celebrated a landmark anniversary with her husband and he asked her to “slow down because of her activities not only politically, but with nonprofit organizations.” She recently stepped down as the elected chair of the Ward 5 Democrats to allow a younger generation to take over the helm. Now the newly-elected president of the DC Democratic Women’s Club, Jeannette says it just in her heart to stay active in her community and to continue to “pay it forward.”
Keys to Success
Jeannette suggests persons who want to succeed in business and in life make themselves open to honest and construction feedback, be technically competent, but prioritize building and maintaining positive business relations.
Her advice for women who want to succeed both personally and professionally is to think of themselves as corporations by creating “You Inc.” “To help and work with others you have to help and work on yourself first. Keep your skills up, stay relevant, empowered and engaged” she adds.
Also, Jeannette thinks as women plan to “have it all,” they must first plan to save, not spend their money beyond their means and to ensure they have enough for a “rainy day.”
For her, it all goes back to her mother’s advice –pray for wisdom and not material things, save money, spend wisely and always aim for good credit. “Pay your creditors timely as it will lead to more financial opportunity,” Jeannette says.