20 Under 40: Jeana Lee

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Jeana Lee
Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Jeana Lee

Jeana Lee, 33

Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility Program, Unum

Mantra: #buildthefort

Quarantine projects: Candidly, at the beginning of quarantine I told myself to just survive. I'm a working mom, have a husband who works non-traditional hours, and we have a 7-year old Lab. Our children are 4 1/2 and 11/2. Having to manage two little ones all day while working from home felt impossible at first. Now, two months in, not only am I surviving, I'm thriving! I learned how to time-manage like a champ, stress less over things that once felt so big and now feel so small, and most importantly, I've learned what 'focused family time' really means.

How did you remain productive? I know this will sound wild because I've got two little ones at home while I'm working, but I've been more productive at home than I was at the office. I really, really love what I do, so I find myself working more hours now than I did before, and I have to set myself daily reminders to unplug.

One thing you couldn't live without? Mornings. Morning time for me is sacred and it's the only time of the day I have to myself. There's something incredible about the early morning hours. It's a unique time of the day that you can truly reflect and recharge, as well as identify what you want to accomplish.

What (else) did you want to be when you grew up? A fashion designer. I would draw clothing, color it, cut it out and paste it on stock paper to put all over my bedroom. I loved the creative process, taking a blank canvas and turning it into something beautiful. Even though I'm not a famous fashion designer, I still love to imagine what could be and help find innovative solutions to help make it happen.

What have you been most grateful for during the pandemic? Time to reflect. Pre-pandemic, our society was so focused on the hustle and bustle. I feel like we've all had time to slow down and focus on what really matters. I hope none of us lose that. ... Pre-pandemic, my 4 1/2-year-old would often ask us to build a fort, and honestly, we usually told him we were too busy. Now, we've built the fort almost every time he's asked for it, and the joy we get from doing so is better than any event we wanted to attend or errand we needed to run.

What's something you can't have in your house? We don't have any rules on what we can't have in the house, but I guess if we had to pick one it would be reptiles. No snakes or creepy-crawly things allowed!