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Day services leader turns barriers into opportunities, creating impact at Goodwill for over 30 years

Posted by Goodwill Staff on March 16, 2021

WHM-Day Services

Jeanine Fohl has spent over 30 years serving individuals with disabilities through her work at Goodwill. She leads with passion and her dedication to the organization and its mission has provided opportunities for personal growth along her career journey.

Since joining Goodwill in 1989, she has served in many roles – supervisor, program manager, manager of family care, manager of community services and director of day services – and has been tasked with developing and managing programs, hiring and supervising staff and ensuring that her teams positively impact the lives of the individuals they serve. As director of day and community services, a position she has held since 2018, Jeanine oversees many of Goodwill’s programs supporting adults and seniors that help improve their quality of life and maintain their independence.

She reflected on the important lessons she’s learned over the years and the women who’ve helped shape her into the leader she is today.

What advice would you share with young girls about their future career journey?

  • Focus on the positives. It’s so easy to dwell on the things that you are not best at. Look at those as opportunities and not barriers. I never thought that I could succeed in a leadership role - I didn’t think I was “smart” enough. However, I realized that you don’t need to be good at everything, you need to surround yourself with individuals that have complimentary skills to yours. That’s what makes us different and unique from others.
  • Do something that you have a true passion for. I have always enjoyed working with people with disabilities and most importantly the people who help them achieve their goals every day. Surround yourself with people who push you to be better and who will challenge you. This may make you uncomfortable and you WILL make mistakes along the way – which is okay! Learning from your mistakes will make you stronger and confident. Embrace your differences and your future is limitless!

How can women better support each other in the workplace?

We must learn to work together and not against each other. My favorite saying is “seek to understand” before making judgements about someone else’s motives. Another important phrase for me is “no fortune telling.” Women tend to worry about what may or may not happen next or what someone else is thinking about them, which isn’t helpful and is an unproductive use of time.

Everyone faces their own struggles (professionally and personally); be genuine, understanding and compassionate towards others. As a leader, I learned you must gain the trust and respect of others if you want to be an effective contributor and develop healthy working relationships. Lastly, I hope all women can empower each other to be better! We can do great things together if we remove the unwanted barriers that we create ourselves.

Tell us about a woman at Goodwill who inspires you.

I have been inspired by SO many wonderful and talented women in my 30 + years working at Goodwill. I have had the fortune of creating long lasting friendships with many former and current colleagues who have made me who I am today. They are all awesome women! If I had to identify one person who has truly embraced me as an individual, it would be Cathy Girard, vice president of development and mission services.

Cathy is my boss, however that’s not why I chose her. She is someone who truly understands the great work we do in mission services and has always recognized the incredibly gifted staff we have as well as most importantly, the people we serve. Cathy is a true champion of the work we do and has entrusted me to develop and lead these programs by providing support and encouragement. It’s very gratifying to have someone who has invested time in my professional growth because she believed in my abilities as a leader. Thank you, Cathy, for your incredible leadership and mentorship. You have inspired me to stay strong and turn barriers into opportunities!


Written by Goodwill Staff

Mission Support Center
Tel: (414) 847-4200

James O. Wright Center forWork & Training
Tel: (414) 353-6400

Metropolitan Chicago -
Tel: (312) 994-1440