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Phoenix Forward

How to juggle family, career and your passion

We could all learn from Jennifer Khadivar, recently named “20 under 40” in Indiana

Having it all doesn’t mean you need to be a circus performer.

Jennifer Khadivar, a wife and mother of three boys under the age of seven, a campus director of the University of Phoenix Northwest Indiana Campus, and an avid community organizer, balances her family, a career and service. Her job involves being a part of the University of Phoenix Midwest Community Investment Steering Committee, a panel that provides funding for local community groups that focus on education and literacy, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana. It’s no wonder the Northwest Indiana In Business Magazine and the Northwest Indiana Times named her one of the “20 under 40” in 2011 for her passionate commitment to community service.

Just don’t call her a juggler: Khadivar says it would be a lot of work if she thought about it as juggling.

“If you’re coming from a place where you’re saying, ‘Oh my gosh I’ve got to keep all these balls in the air!’ it’s trouble,” she explains “That’s painting a little bit different of a picture than if you feel what you do is so fulfilling.”

Instead, she decided early on to pick her priorities and to follow a life lesson from a friend. “You have to align 100 percent of your time, energy and focus to those priorities.”

Khadivar likes to think of her priorities — family, career and giving back — as buckets. Her time and energy are rocks. She then tries to make sure that no one bucket gets more rocks than the other.

Khadivar’s days are packed. Yet somehow she still finds time to tour local schools delivering inspirational messages and serve on the steering board of the local United Way Success by 6™ program.

She gives a lot of credit to the University’s commitment to community service. Her supportive family and a commitment to balance what’s important to her also play a role. It was the reaction of her co-workers, though, when she won the award for her dedication and leadership that touched her most. “The amount of pride and enthusiasm that my team felt here at the campus was the most overwhelming. I think it’s because in the award each of them saw a piece of themselves.”

Khadivar likes to think of her priorities — family, career and giving back — as buckets. Her time and energy are rocks. She then tries to make sure that no one bucket gets more rocks than the other. “I’ve found that people cross the line when they are doing too much of one thing or the other. So now one of your buckets is suffering.”

The buckets mirror her favorite project that is based on the book “Three Cups” by Tony Townsley and Mark St. Germain. She and Townsley, the man who inspired the book, visit elementary schools and teach children how to manage money by setting aside three cups labeled “spending, saving, and charity.” Khadivar sees it as a life lesson, “You have the power to decide what you do with the money when you earn it,” as well as with your time.

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