Barbara Jordan: “If you want change, you have to do the work”

I teach self-defense techniques in my course as well as how to use your voice. One participant wrote me a letter about her experience in a parking lot. She was walking to her car and spotted a man walking sporadically in the parking lot. She kept her eye on him. He began to approach her, […]

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I teach self-defense techniques in my course as well as how to use your voice. One participant wrote me a letter about her experience in a parking lot. She was walking to her car and spotted a man walking sporadically in the parking lot. She kept her eye on him. He began to approach her, and she put her arms and hands up to defend herself. She screamed “No, No, Get Back, No,” and the individual changed course and went the other direction.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Barbara Jordan.

When former ESPN broadcaster Barbara Jordan’s older sister Beverly was murdered by her fiancé some 30 years ago, the family’s grief was compounded when the killer was released from prison nearly three decades later. Barbara, a former athlete, five-time All-American for the Amateur Softball Association and an alternative team member for the 1996 US Olympics for women’s softball, knows distinctly what it takes to be focused and to reinforce the need to be aware of all that goes on around you.

Barbara has taken the lessons and heartache from her sister’s tragedy on the road to foster a nationwide effort to promote life skills necessary in all we do, so females especially are never placing themselves in vulnerable positions. In addition to the personal safety courses she teaches throughout the country — both in person and now on webinars — she has founded ‘Always BEV’ a foundation who’s name honors her sister Beverly, and encourages all to ‘Always BE Vigilant’ . Since 2018 she has made a passionate commitment to educate women on predatory behavior and how to avoid being a victim of such a crime — educating participants on safety skills that can influence and empower individuals in a positive way.

Most recently, she also started a podcast that tells the story, but more so expands on the ‘Ripple Effect’ of which crimes like these often extend within family, friends and other acquaintances — how life changes in an instant — and most important, providing lessons to live more safely.

Barbara, who has taught thousands of women and young females to create a plan of action, especially through daily routines, recognizes that in today’s world, there are daily assaults that victimize and sometimes end the lives of women and teenagers throughout the country. She is a social impact hero, working to make an important change.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Over 30 years ago, my older sister Beverly was murdered by her fiancé. The findings of the case highlight that this was not an act of rage, but a cold calculated planned assault for financial gain. The months of lies and deceptive acts along with the violent way Beverly was killed, changed my family’s lives forever. When her killer was released from prison in 2018, I founded Always Bev, which has become my passion to help educate women about personal safety, especially from predatory behavior.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

The most interesting story occurs frequently with my in-person classes. The women enter the room before the course begins appearing timid, quiet and a sense of looking unsure about what they will hear. When the course is over, they have metamorphosed into strong women that have a sense of power and confidence. It is amazing to see the transformation of their body language once they gain the understanding that they can stay safe if they implement situational awareness into their lives, trust their intuition which will inevitably aid them into identifying warning signs.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I was about to speak in front of one of my largest audiences this past spring. I was wired up with the mic and battery pack clipped to the back of my pants. Needless to say, I used the restroom moments before I spoke, forgetting about the battery pack, which fell into the toilet. The microphone had to be changed out after a few minutes into my session.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

I believe that Always Bev empowers women and young females. I think I speak about topics that a lot of women know have happened or they have seen it happen. An example of this would be waiting in line at Starbucks. Would a man stand right up against the backside of another man while waiting to order? Of course not. When it comes to women, some men invade women’s personal space. This specific example during my class brings the audience wide eyed because it has happened to most women. I provide the women tools of how to respond to this type of situation, one to prevent it from happening and two, skills they can use if it does happen. This scenario is only one example but throughout the course we cover more severe acts of potential assaults and educate women on what to do and what to say if ever threatened or vulnerable.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I teach self-defense techniques in my course as well as how to use your voice. One participant wrote me a letter about her experience in a parking lot. She was walking to her car and spotted a man walking sporadically in the parking lot. She kept her eye on him. He began to approach her, and she put her arms and hands up to defend herself. She screamed “No, No, Get Back, No,” and the individual changed course and went the other direction.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Yes, communities can help solve the root of the problem by being overall more vigilant in their daily actions, activities, and general awareness of the problem.

Understanding and directly dealing with the vulnerability or women versus predators is a big first step. Think about this, if a group of people are being held hostage, they always set the women free first. That is because the theory is the women are the least of a threat to fight back.

  • Society can solve the problem of violence against women by being overt in dealing with predatory behavior and realizing the urgency and seriousness, rather than ignoring the behavior or addressing it in a forgive and forget manner.
  • Politicians can help by promoting policies and laws that recognize and punish predatory behavior whether that behavior is in its infancy or advanced, whether it surfaces as a threat or an action. The criminal justice system in general could be a deterrent with stricter, severe, automatic sentencing for predatory behavior and crimes. Instead we hear that the system is full and often severe acts of violence against women are hardly punished compared to the emotional and physical damage that the violent act caused a victim.
  • Finally, politicians themselves could help set an example within their own lives, families and staff that does not demonstrate predatory behavior, unlike stories we see all too frequently surface in today’s news.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is a strong word and is thrust into action by somebody with innate qualities. It can be actions or spoken words up close or from afar. It is not the presentation of an idea, concept, or mindset. Leadership is behavior with the ability to motivate others to understand, appreciate, imitate, or follow. Leadership thrives on the combination of trust and confidence providing motivation. Positive leadership can be the most powerful of all influencers in affecting positive change, mindsets, attitude, and actions.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. If someone would have told me that teaching personal safety to women would be rewarding, I may have thought about doing it long ago. The continued engagement that I have with past participants, receiving notes, messages, or emails about how they made a decision to stay safe or how they thought of me when a situation produced warning signs has really inspired me to do more on a larger scale. The messages that people share with me inspire me to continue to work to educate and empower others. It is absolutely rewarding!
  2. I wish somebody would have told me that even though safety is important, and we all want to feel safe — some people are timid or afraid to engage in the topic about safety. For some, it is hard for them to think about possible danger or vulnerable scenarios. This might be the most surprising thing that I have learned because deep down we all know that safety is important.
  3. I wish somebody would have told me that teaching this class and revisiting the details about my sister Beverly’s murder could re-trigger anxiety. Telling the details about her story is never easy but reliving those facts during class take an emotional toll on me.
  4. I wish somebody would have told me that just because I am passionate about helping others avoid predators, it may not be as easy on my family to engage or celebrate my work. My family does not want to relive the details or have reminders of the tragic events that we experienced.
  5. I wish somebody would have told me how supportive my friends and community were going to be with Always Bev. I have people that offer to do logo’s, sponsor classes, provide photographs from events all for the sake of promoting Always Bev in the hopes of helping others. I am blessed and thankful for their encouragement and I can never repay them for their amazing contributions.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe that personal safety should be taught in all schools. I think it could be introduced at the elementary level reinforcing the basics of what parents teach at home, not engaging with strangers, not taking gifts from strangers and the safety of staying in threes. The junior high level could implement the introduction of inappropriate behavior and warning signs. In high schools and universities, personal safety should be a mandatory curriculum for graduation. Learning situational awareness can be the key to allowing our intuition to identify warning signs and this life skill alone, can be the difference in staying safe.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have several life lessons quotes. “Never Give Up,” was my mantra for a long time. Now, when I am in front of a large audience the quote I use is from my Dad, “just be yourself.” Recently, after the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I am inspired by her lifelong work for others, so I remind myself “if you want change, you have to do the work.”

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Oprah Winfrey — for so many reasons!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: Always Bev

Instagram: @always_bev

Twitter: @always_bev

LinkedIn: Barbara Jordan

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