Featured Member: Barbara Thomas Shares How Life Experiences Shaped Her Career

Barbara Thomas used her life experiences to forge a career in social services in a variety of leadership roles and as a direct care provider in the mental health field to fuel her passion for entrepreneurship.

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Born to Lead
I began my journey as a Real Estate Investor and Divorce Mediator by way of experiential learning, formal studying, field training, and practicing in the field of social services.  Due to the untimely death of my maternal grandmother, my eight-months’ pregnant teen mother was placed into foster care and labeled “a ward of the State,” and I was born into the social service system.

Stable housing proved to be a barrier before age five due to the frequent transitions between foster homes.  My mother aged out of the system and successfully completed a family reunification plan. The family reunited and my mother prepared me for my first day of school.

Upon entering grade school, I possessed a desire to learn and a will to break the cycle of teen pregnancy and homelessness within my immediate family.  Access to education fueled the flame for me. I graduated high school with no children and pursued a college education.  Naturally, I selected a career in the field of social services.

I have worked in the mental health field for over 28 years in a variety of leadership roles such as Manager, Supervisor, Clinical Director, and board member. I gained knowledge, understanding, skills, and the opportunity to reach my personal goals and to be an example for my extended family as the first college graduate. I was able to secure stable housing for myself while I was completing my studies and several family members were inspired to advance their education.  They have successfully pursed their careers by obtaining advanced degrees. I acknowledged my initial goals have been achieved and new goals needed to be identified.

I began to desire more from a career in the form of wanting to leave a tangible legacy for my family. I also possessed the need to combine my professional social services training with my entrepreneurial goals. I accomplished all of this with the establishment of my company YBMI & Associates. Many have accessed me for insight, coaching, mentoring and services to assist them with establishing a tangible legacy for their families.

Never Stop Learning
I am a Real Estate Investor, Divorce Mediator, Professional Career Coach and Professional Career Mentor. The advice I can offer to other women who are leaders within their own right and to women currently developing empowering leadership skills is the following: Never stop being a student of life. They make the best leaders. A reciprocated relationship, within an environment of thinkers, leaders, students and observers, is the vehicle for an exchange of information to occur that benefits someone, if not you, the same day, next day or someday.

The interaction of reciprocation allows leaders to ‘till the minds of others’ as often as they can by using both hands. One to pay it forward and the other to help lift up. My tip to all women is also my company’s mission: Each One Teach One!

Facing Challenges/Embracing Rewards
The most challenging portion of my career was getting started. This starting point included the completion of education, development of partnerships and the desire to begin. The baseline for beginning was connected to completed milestones. It was difficult to validate the beginning without verifiable markers. I find identifying the start to be difficult with each new venture as an entrepreneur.

The most rewarding element of my career is the opportunity to combine the access to for-profit assets and provide specific social services in a unique approach. As a Real Estate Investor, services offered adds value to the legacy of individuals and families. Divorce mediation services provide supportive social services when families are redefining their family structure while seeking options to ensure the tangible family legacy remains as strong as possible. The additional sub-services I provide are available for those seeking to develop or advance their professional development skills within a coaching and or mentoring format.

What the Future Holds
I have a number of goals that I look forward to accomplishing in the very near future: (1) Expand professional coaching, mentoring and supportive services to women around the globe within the next two years in order to educate, train and support individuals and families with developing family legacy with real estate investments; (2) Develop a nonprofit in alignment with the company’s philanthropic efforts within the next five years; (3) Increase the company’s marketing exposure by at least 2% annually. The goal is to empower every person to possess knowledge, training, support and guidance to positively impact their ability to develop and contribute to their family’s wealth and their family’s legacy based on individual choices; (4) Provide at least two professional development trainings every three months in a webinar format within the next six months; and (5) Provide real estate investor education for beginners at least two times per quarter beginning within the next six months.

Making the Most of Membership
IAW has assisted me with shaping my business by expanding my network of professional women local and abroad through the membership, trainings and access to other leaders. My advice to other IAW members who seek to make the most of their membership would be to share your talents and specialty information, and participate in the online community and the local networking. When you contribute, opportunities unveil themselves to allow personal and professional growth to blossom.

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