Commercial Integrator September 2022 - 59

C llab rati n
TODAY and TOMORROW
Diversity Spotlight
Jan Westbrook,
instructional media
technical manager -
classroom support
services at New York
University - New York
Dealing with the loss of a
parent at any time is incredibly
distressing. Dealing with
the loss of a parent during
COVID-19 lockdowns brings
a whole new set of challenges.
In some ways, however,
being confined to her home
was a blessing for Jan
Westbrook, as it allowed her
to care for her parents and
spend some last precious
moments with her mom.
Start With the Personal
We start with the personal
because that's just how
things were during the early
phase of the pandemic: In
those initial lockdown days,
with fewer things to do, virtual
meetings were less about
work and more about getting
to know team members on a
personal level. " Telework invited
people into my space, "
Westbrook explains. " It
provided my colleagues with
a snapshot of my life. "
Early on, Westbrook found
herself more easily distracted,
looking at her colleagues'
work-from-home spaces and
commercialintegrator.com
virtual backgrounds. She also
admits that, sometimes, the
virtual meetings would get
" boring " and people, including
her, would go off camera.
Other times, Westbrook
witnessed sidebar chats
and found herself wondering,
" What are they talking
about? " In other words, she
found herself challenged to
remain engaged. " There was
a kinetic-interaction loss, "
Westbrook observes.
Relying on Others
Westbrook and her team
had to reimagine how they
executed projects for New
York University (NYU). With
onsite-staff limitations, she
often had to rely on others
to be her eyes and ears.
" I had to ask questions I
would never have had to ask
before, " she recalls. " I could
not feel, touch and see the
situation in person. " It's a
perfect encapsulation of the
challenges that many of us
had to navigate in real time.
When NYU, like many
higher-education institutions,
moved to the hybrid model,
Westbrook and her team
had to ensure that the newly
installed Zoom equipment
was working 100%. Moreover,
her team was responsible for
training faculty members on
how to use the gear. Having
the ability to remote into
collaboration and learning
systems proved invaluable.
It empowered members of
Westbrook's team who were
working remotely, and it
largely obviated the need to
go to classrooms in person.
Despite the difficulties of
adjusting day-to-day activities,
Westbrook found the
additional time in her day -
the time she wasn't commuting
- beneficial. She read
in the morning instead of
rushing to the train, and she
incorporated five-mile walks
into her morning routine.
" There was no more stress
about taking the train, " she
says. She recalls a moment
of revelation when she
realized that, formerly, she
would find herself mentally
wrapping up well in advance
of her train ride just in anticipation
of the trip.
The pandemic also helped
crystalize what Westbrook
really wants out of her life.
Her pandemic epiphany has
inspired her to start exploring
an early retirement from NYU
and plan for her second career.
She craves more time to
explore her passions for filmmaking
and screenwriting.
Although she loves higher
education, she has decided
that she wants to be free
from commuting time and
managerial responsibility.
One of Westbrook's favorite
Henry James quotes is a profound
one: " It's time to start
living the life you've imagined. "
It speaks to her not only professionally
but also personally.
Westbrook is transgender, and
it has been nine years since
she revealed her true gender
to her colleagues. She was
fortunate to work in education
when she transitioned
because, she says, " There is a
higher tolerance and latitude
in higher ed. "
A Pioneer
Westbrook, as the first
employee to transition while
on the job at NYC, was a
pioneer. NYU made her feel
secure and safe, and she
feels extreme gratitude for
that. In fact, Westbrook
wanted her colleagues to
understand better what
she was experiencing,
so she opted to write a
letter explaining what was
going on in her life. She was
mindful of the fact that her
transition was not only new
for her but also new for her
colleagues. Overall, she
feels grateful and happy,
mindful that, if she had been
in another type of career
and/or in another location,
her experience might have
been extremely different.
A Long-Term Friendship
One of the " Honor Roll "
authors has known Westbrook
for more than 16 years
and has grown to love the
friendship. It's almost embarrassing
to admit one's own
unfamiliarity with how to
ask her questions about her
personal journey. She is very
patient in handling people's
inquiries, even if they're
sometimes fumbled. " If anyone
has questions, " she says,
" just ask in private. "
A great Friedrich Nietzsche
quote seems fitting here:
" You have your way. I have
my way. As for the right way,
the correct way, and the only
way, it does not exist. "
Connect with Westbrook via
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/
jahnpwestbrook.
Marla Suttenberg is a partner
with Sapphire Marketing
and Audio Associates.
Lainie Mataras is director,
consultant, architect, design
group, with Planar.
SEPTEMBER 2022 Commercial Integrator 59
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ http://www.commercialintegrator.com

Commercial Integrator September 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Integrator September 2022

Commercial Integrator September 2022 - Cover1
Commercial Integrator September 2022 - Cover2
Commercial Integrator September 2022 - 1
Commercial Integrator September 2022 - 2
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