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Women's History Month Spotlight: "I now feel empowered to bring ideas to the table, that has not always been the case."

Stephanie_ Thumbanil

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – The general expectation from childhood is that you decide what you want to do for a living, dedicate yourself to learning the ins and outs, follow that career path and succeed. But sometimes life can throw you a curveball…and put you right where you need to be.

Stephanie Lynn, the Senior Marketing Manager for Concerts and Events, did not set out to work in sports and entertainment. "I spent twenty years of my life figuring out what I was supposed to be doing," said Lynn.

For most, waking up one day to the realization you are not feeling fulfilled in your career is a "mid-life crisis" but for Lynn it was an opportunity. "When I was in my twenties, if you would have told me I am now a woman working in sport, I would have told you something has gone terribly wrong," Lynn laughed. "Now, I don't think I would want to work anywhere else."

Lynn was a fine arts major with extensive instruction as a classically trained actor and director. She would wait tables or take temp jobs on the side in her early career to get by, as any movie would have you believe a true thespian behaves. But what's the problem if you are truly passionate about your career? Then her passion changed, to what she thought was graphic design. After heading back to school, she freelanced and took a job coordinating a film festival, but it still felt like something was missing.

It was not until Lynn watched a live Cirque du Soleil performance where she had her "aha" moment – knowing exactly what she needed. "I was feeling lost, and I asked myself what do I want to feel?" Lynn questioned. "What do I want to get out of a work environment? What do I want to bring to my community? Watching that performance, I said 'why am I not in events?', events have been my whole life."

Lynn then took a chance and switched her career once more and accepted a role as an administrative assistant for a small performing arts center in Orange Park. The pay was not ideal, but it was an excellent opportunity to realign her career and learn valuable skills. The payout was worth it. By starting over, she is now, seven years later, exactly where she needs to be.

"I kind of put it out in the universe that this is what I want," said Lynn. "I did a lot of journaling and reflecting. I had no idea I was on the path towards it when I started speaking my dream job into existence."

Lynn says the common denominator for women in their forties is the fear of change. Telling themselves 'This is good enough.' To her, change is an important part of living a fulfilled life. Per her own account, her life looks completely different than it did a decade ago and she wonders what continues to be possible. Today she challenges herself to take one big leap per month. Whether it's as big as applying for that dream job or presenting a new strategy in an important meeting or as small as changing up her wardrobe, Lynn is constantly challenging herself to try and do new things.

Thankfully, she has seen a lot of change in the workforce towards gender equality. "The women in leadership roles have dramatically increased since I started working twenty-five years ago," said Lynn. "I am not saying it is perfect. But it used to be where a woman could never imagine being a senior leader -- always thinking do they want my opinion or am I just here to take notes? We have come a long way."

Lynn believes the Jaguars and sports in general have grown in three major areas with female inclusion: awareness, visibility and opportunity. She will continue to challenge herself and others to go after what they really want.

"It's up to us to set the path forward for ourselves. Often, it's the very thing that frightens us most that leads us to the life we are meant to live."

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