Our Stories

Jackie Taylor Resized

She Just Never Stops Helping Others -- Individuals and Organizations

A lot of people figure out who and what they’re going to be and do by the time they’ve finished college. Fewer have it figured out by the time they’ve graduated high school. 

And then there’s Dr. Jacqueline Taylor. 

Who knew at the age of just 3. 

“From the time I was three years old,” she says, “I knew I wanted to be in education. I will tell you that practically from the time I could talk, I talked about school, and throughout my whole early life, I kept saying that I would be in education.” 

And how. 

A native of northern Lower Michigan, Dr. Taylor graduated from what then was Fife Lake High School, learning early the lessons of hard work by picking cherries, harvesting potatoes and topping onions. 

Her father worked in the automotive industry, while her mother served, among other things, as a cook for Kingsley Public Schools for the better part of two decades. 

She left Grand Traverse County at 18 and moved to Lansing, marrying and raising two sons and then enrolling in college as “a late starter.” She graduated Lansing Community College with an associate degree in business management, then earned a B.S.B.A. in business administration from Aquinas College. After securing a master’s degree in education administration from Michigan State University (MSU), she topped it off with a doctorate in college and university administration from MSU, writing a dissertation that explored the relationship between Lansing Community College and two educational institutions in the Republic of China. 

During a career in higher education that spanned a quarter of a century, she served five institutions, spending most those years at Davenport University, where she ascended to vice president of development. 

Though she formally retired from Davenport University in 2008, she immediately stepped into a role as interim executive director of the Michigan Campus Compact, a statewide consortium of colleges and universities. 

She grins. “So I really never had a day off.” 

In 2009, Dr. Taylor joined Pondera Advisors, LLC, a leadership consulting firm in Grand Rapids managed by Joe Day, Rob Elliott and Kurt Kimball. “Pondera” means “balance” in Latin, a touchstone for the company as it serves to help develop leaders for others. 

In Dr. Taylor’s office, there’s more Latin on the wall, the words “Animus tibi esse,” which translates to “have the courage to know yourself.” 

For all the shoulders she rubbed against in higher education, Dr. Taylor has an easygoing manner that puts a visitor at ease. In a few moments, it’s obvious she’s got a servant’s heart. How can I help? Let’s get your compass set. Your destiny awaits you. 

Working at Pondera Advisors, she says, “is such a privilege…to be able to be here and active, helping others.” 

Dr. Taylor is part of a larger team there that fine-tunes its strategy to fit the varied individuals and organizations pushing through their doors and seeking optimum ways to lead. 

Dr. Taylor and her colleagues aren’t reluctant to paint vivid pictures of what it means to excel: sacrifice, humility – and the understanding that you sometimes need to be open to the prospect of painful change. 

“We want people to operate at their highest level. And to do that, they must first understand themselves – their strengths, their weaknesses, their vulnerabilities." 

When Dr. Taylor isn’t working at Pondera, you might find her golfing, or playing bridge – or serving others through more than a handful of nonprofits where she donates her time and expertise. 

Except for bedtime. “I wouldn’t dream of going to bed without reading my little prayer book for a half hour.” She grins again. “And then a mystery.” 

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