Janis Ward-Catlett started sharing inspirational quotes on her Facebook page as a part of “Motivational Monday” – a way to encourage her friends and followers on a consistent basis. After falling ill, she wasn’t able to post for several weeks, much to the disappointment of her social media followers. The resulting outcry, in fact, was so great that Janis decided to start not only a blog, but ultimately a non-profit, dedicated to mentoring students from fourth to twelfth grade. The non-profit – Maneward Inspirational Leadership Development (MILD) – offers academic support, community engagement, field trips, workshops and summits, and other resources for students with the intent of making a difference in the lives of youth through enlightenment, encouragement, and empowerment.
After advocating for several parents who reached out to her about their children, Janis contacted the school Superintendent. That correspondence resulted in Janis speaking at a principals’ meeting and eventually receiving requests to work with multiple schools. Since founding MILD, Janis has worked with students at five different schools and developed various curriculums for students with different needs – among them a program on leadership development, which focuses on personal character, self-respect as well as respect for others, and the impact of personal attitude on mental health.
Janis earned her bachelor’s degree in leadership management and strategic planning from the University of Mary Washington. Afterwards, she attended the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) virtually, completing classes online and earning her master’s in project management followed by an MBA. Janis credits her virtual courses – collaborating on group projects with peers scattered across the U.S. – for preparing her for a career in IT. Many of the customers she has supported over the years have been virtual – stationed in another building, state, or even country.
As an IT Business Process Analyst and Architect for NetCentrics at the Pentagon, Janis seeks out opportunities for gained efficiencies and process improvements – identifying gaps and weaknesses in her organization and determining the best way to support her customer’s mission. “Working with children has really helped me in my professional career as well – helping people, whether they are 14 or 48, is about understanding them. Everyone can get better, and everyone is coachable. But to coach them and help them, you have to ask the right questions,” Janis said.
Her dedication to her customers and her team, combined with her desire to positively impact youth exemplify NetCentrics’ core values of thoughtful leadership, doing the right things and doing them right, and serving those who serve us all.
Janis is currently pursuing her doctorate in strategic leadership with a concentration in coaching (virtually) at Regent University in Virginia Beach.