Fairygodboss Of The Week: Julia Kanouse

Julia Kanouse

Julia Kanouse

Julia Kanouse


Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.

Fairygodboss of the Week: Julia Kanouse
SVP Membership and Marketing Illinois Technology Association
Chicago, IL

Nominated by: Adrienne Weil Director, Partnerships Partnership for a Healthier America

Adrienne’s Nomination for Julia:

Julia was nominated by her former colleague, Adrienne Weil. Here are the wonderful things Adrienne has to say about Julia: “When we worked together (and to this day!), Julia cared about both my career progression and my personal happiness; she crafted new positions to leverage my strengths and increase my impact.  She trusted me to do my job and advocated for me along the way.  Ambitious herself and encouraging of the drive in her team, she is also devoted to her family and knows what truly matters in life. Julia has a knack for understanding what truly motivates someone and tapping into that.  She is also gifted at adeptly handling different stakeholders and was often the "voice of reason" who could bring folks to consensus.”

FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?

JK: Although I've spent almost 11 years in the non-profit world of association management (and love it), I kind of fell into it.  I started in the technology industry - learned to do a little programming and process design - and then moved into strategic management consulting.  I really enjoyed consulting and learned a lot in a very short period of time but made the leap "client side" as I wanted the opportunity to see the full picture.  As a consultant, I was only working on one piece of the pie.  I joined the National Restaurant Association in 2004 and really enjoyed overseeing a brand and having responsibility for "the whole pie".  I recently left the National Restaurant Association for the Illinois Technology Association and have finally found my "sweet spot" — combining the skills I learned as an association management executive with my initial love for technology.

FGB: What is your proudest accomplishment?

JK: I have overseen two major re-brands in my career.  While at the National Restaurant Association, I lead a re-brand of our visual identity.  I just (last week) took live the Illinois Technology Association's new brand.  Re-brands are tough — they take a lot of work and consensus building (especially with large non-profit boards) and I'm extremely proud of the end result in both cases.

FGB: What was a challenge you overcame?

JK: The biggest challenges in my career have always come when dealing with internal politics. I am not naturally a "game player" — although I thrive on competition, I am transparent. Poker is not a good game for me!  Trying to play the game while remaining true to myself was certainly a challenge.  I found that my best strategy was, in the end to "be the change I wanted to see" — I simply didn't play the game and worked hard to get my peers and colleagues to follow my lead in terms of honesty and transparency.

Lightning Round:

FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?

JK: I have three beautiful daughters (8, 5 and 2) so I spend a lot of time with them...being honest, I spend a lot of time driving them to practices, games, play dates, etc.!  I am also a runner and make sure to to get in a long run every weekend that is not at my weekday 5:30 am workout time.  

FGB: Who is one celebrity - dead or alive - that you’d like to have dinner with?

JK: I tried to come up with an intellectually appropriate response but I'd really love to meet Jennifer Aniston.  I always thought we could be "friends" (pun intended).

FGB: What is your favorite song?

JK: "If I Had a Million Dollars," Barenaked Ladies

FGB: What is your favorite movie?

JK: "When Harry Met Sally."

FGB: What book would you take with you on a desert island?

JK: "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.

FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?

JK: Shoes!

FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?

JK: I have only ever had one female boss in my career.  That being said, there are many women who have influenced me; mentored me; challenged me and helped me become the woman I am today.  However, the woman who has had the most influence on my career is my mom.  With every career change I've made, every stumbling block I've come across, she's been the one I turn to.  There is no one who has ever been - or ever will be -  more in my corner than her.

FairygodbossWho's your Fairygodboss? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her! If selected, we'll send her an email Q&A and publish her story on our site!