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Celebrating Black Excellence: Insights from Janet Lomax-Smith

February is Black History Month! To commemorate this annual month-long celebration of Black achievements, we recently had the privilege of hosting Janet Lomax-Smith—an award-winning journalist—for a fireside chat, moderated by our own Dahron Wells, Learning & Development Program Coordinator. Janet shared insights from her remarkable career journey, along with some inspirational wisdom she picked up along the way.

This event, which was held by our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Alliance Committee, kicked off our firm’s Guest Speaker Series.


The Story of Janet Lomax-Smith: From Louisville to Rochester

Janet is an award-winning journalist with more than 40 years of experience. Throughout her career, she has covered a variety of stories and political events on a local and national level and led many “one-on-one” interviews with prominent newsmakers. Janet has also earned many honors for excellence in journalism, including the Regional Edward R Murrow Award and the New York State Associated Press Award. She was also named in the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.

Raised in Louisville, KY, Janet grew up with her two older sisters and her parents, who were both educators. She graduated in 1976 from Murray State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. At age 21, Janet landed her first journalism job out of college at WAVE-TV in Louisville, which she remained at for about four years before she was offered a position in Rochester, NY. For more than three decades, Janet was a news anchor and newsroom leader at News 10NBC before ultimately deciding to retire in 2016.

However, her retirement didn't last long, and in 2018, Janet was appointed a Frederick H. Minett professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The following year, she accepted her current position as a journalist-in-residence within the Division of Diversity and Inclusion with a focus on marketing and communications projects.


6 “Gems” for Transforming Your Life

By weaving together various anecdotes from her life, Janet outlined six “gems” that have guided her professional success and personal growth.

1. “All things grow with love”— Janet related this “gem” back to her successful journalism career as well as developing friendships with initially doubtful coworkers, sharing, “it helps when you love what you do... and all things grow with love.”

    She also discusses other instances of how she applied this mindset to her life, including the time a woman referred to her with an outdated racial term. Rather than be offended by this remark, Janet took it as an opportunity to educate the woman and help her grow because, “all things grow with love.”


    2. “There are no dumb questions”— Another tip Janet has learned over the years and currently lives by is that “there are no dumb questions.” She encourages us to be patient with those who ask questions and to share our expertise and knowledge with them.

      “There is no fault in not knowing, the fault is in not asking,” added Janet.


      3. The time is always right to do what is right”— This “gem,” which is a direct quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has guided much of Janet’s life.

        Throughout her career, Janet has had the opportunity to speak at many events. Through these events, she has been able to speak up about her beliefs and inspire others.

        Janet encourages us all to share our gifts to the world and do what we can to make a difference. “Stand up, speak out, and educate others when you see something that isn’t right.”


        4. “Be kind to others and yourself”— Janet also emphasized the importance of being kind to ourselves and others.

          She shared stories of her experiences with various celebrities and public figures including Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Bush, Michelle Obama, and Anderson Cooper. And while she may not be able to remember exactly what they said to her, she remembers how their kindness made her feel.


          5. “Learn to say yes”— Over the past few years, we have become accustomed to operating in silos more than ever before. This has led to a significant decrease in people simply just hanging out with their friends and families.

            Janet challenges us all to start saying yes and joining our friends outside of the home. “Go outside, get out of your comfort zone, and start saying yes!”


            6. “Learn to say no” — While this may seem contradictory to #5, Janet assures that there is certainly a place for both “gems” in our lives.


              After retiring back in 2016, Janet was warned by a friend that there would be a flood of requests for her to join boards and attend events. And while she still wanted to remain active, she realized that it would be necessary to say no at times. “You must learn to say no and allow yourself some “me time,” Janet concluded.

              Janet encourages us all to pause and think about the “gems” we've collected along the way through our own careers, family lives, and daily interactions, and consider how we can share them with others. “When we stop and reflect, we realize that we all have a lot more in common than we thought.”

              To learn more about our DE&I initiatives here at TBG, click here. And if you’re interested in finding out what a career at The Bonadio Group could look like for you,reach outtoday or check out the current openings here.