Hoya Highlight: Julia Farr (C’88), Executive Director, Georgetown University Alumni Association

Julia oversees the alumni engagement programs of the alumni association, including regional engagement, alliances, career services, the Board of Governors, and Law Center. She is also the University Alumni representative and spokesperson of the association.

TIME ON THE HILLTOP

What was your major?

History major and French minor.

What was your favorite class or who was your favorite professor at Georgetown?

I loved my history classes with Dr. Dorothy Brown. I loved my French classes too with my professor Madame Denis.

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

The ones that come to me are snow days at Georgetown, where we lost track of time at the Tombs. Also, Senior Week. The mud crawl during Senior Week across campus was hysterical—there were mud pits set up all over campus and you had to go through this maze around campus, running through the mud pits so you were covered in mud. Then you would meet in parking lot three, the current Southwest Quad, for beer. The mud dried on you in the hot sun while drinking beer, it was so funny. I also loved going to Father King’s 11 p.m. Sunday mass.

What advice would you give your younger self (or current Georgetown students)?

I don’t know if this applies to current students because they are so involved in student groups nowadays, but I wish I was more involved in on-campus groups or clubs. Outside of academics, I spent my life at the Alumni House and I wish I had taken more advantage of the student engagement. It goes by so fast you think you’ll get to all these things and then it’s over in a flash.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

Georgetown is woven into the fabric of my life. Because my grandfather and my mother attended Georgetown, I was already a part of the community before I got there as a student. Not only have I formed my closest lifetime friendships that stay with me today, I have loved being a part of this community whose very mission is to serve the global community, and to positively impact our world. The Jesuit values are at the core of who I am.

CAREER REFLECTIONS

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Honestly, the best career advice I received was from a friend of mine at Georgetown, Jim Hoffman (C’86), when I was deciding if I should go to law school or continue on my career path. He said, “Be brave and just move forward in a direction.” If it doesn’t end up being the right fit, you’ll find out when you are there and you can make another move then. Just keep moving forward. I think of this still today and throughout all my career decisions.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done professionally?

Pivoting my careers twice. First, my legal career to a small business owner. Second, from my business to alumni relations. Starting my own business was hard because I stepped into an arena that required a lot of new skills and knowledge that I had not yet developed, and I had to learn on the job. I took an enormous risk doing it. I believe each step in my career has prepared me for my current position; practicing law and starting my own business prepped me for the world of client relations, which is at the heart of what I do in alumni engagement.

What are the big trends in your industry you’re seeing now?

At the Alumni Association, we have been at the heart of alumni engagement for the past 139 years. Now, with COVID-19, there has been a shift to virtual engagement and away from the frontline fundraising. So our challenge is novel and innovative content that speaks to our alumni during this time. Everyone is competing for people’s attention while living and working at home, and we are doing the same.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

What does your workspace look like? Are you at a desk frequently or on the road? What do you have on your desk or with you at all times?

Lots of small notebooks, because I take notes all day long, by hand.

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?

Yoga, by far. I go to a 7 a.m. class at Georgetown Yoga. Currently, I have been doing a lot of online classes before the workday. It clears my brain and my mind, which helps me focus, keeps me centered and peaceful throughout the day. The days move very quickly and this is one thing that grounds me in the morning.

Who or what is a source of strength and inspiration in your life and why?

The first person I think of is my mother. She lived her entire life with passion and she never shied away from trying new things. She was always stretching and learning until the day she died. She spent her life in pursuit of knowledge and embraced new experiences, peoples, and cultures. In terms of how we aspire to lifelong learning at Georgetown, my mother best captured this pursuit. At Georgetown, we strive to be active participants in global conversations, but it is also the pursuit of bettering and developing oneself (cura personalis) that is important.

What are your words to live by?

Choose joy. Every day we make choices in our reactions, we choose to be upset, or to be angry. I try to make an active choice to choose joy and positivity. I intentionally fill my days with things that bring me joy: meditation and yoga, spending time with my family, friends, and colleagues, and trying my best to find joy in all the moments.

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