We were lucky to catch up with Julie Cohen recently and have shared our conversation below.
Julie, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today. We’d love to hear the story behind how you got your first job in field that you currently practice in.
I never imagined having a job in the world of infertility. I’m no stranger to the world of infertility- my husband and I have gone through fertility treatments for almost 7 years to grow our family. Someone in our community reached out to see if I wanted to be on an exploratory committee for an organization called Jewish Fertility Foundation, JFF. JFF was looking to possibly expand to Birmingham, and they needed a committee to help determine if it was an appropriate fit. I’ve always been very vocal about our journey with infertility on social media, so this community member thought I should join this committee. As we got further along in the process, it was decided JFF was going to open in Birmingham in partnership with Collat Jewish Family Services (CJFS). I was so excited for our community to have this crucial resource.
A little bit of background- I’m a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, and I’ve been practicing SLP (full-time and part-time) since 2010. I’m very passionate about helping kids communicate, and I’ve never imagined having another job. I’ve always felt so lucky to have a “job” that doesn’t feel like work. I have 3 young boys (5 years old and 2.5 year old twins) who keep me very busy, so I’ve been working part-time since getting pregnant with my twins.
As this exploratory committee continued conversations, JFF started to discuss the need for a staff person- a JFF-Birmingham City Manager. This position would be 10 hours/week, and this individual would be in charge of running JFF in our community. My heart knew immediately I needed this job. I quickly realized it was okay. I didn’t go to college and graduate school with this job in mind. My years of infertility along with my passion for helping others navigate the rollercoaster of infertility called me to this job. The best part? I could keep working part-time as an SLP and work for JFF as the Birmingham City Manager. I interviewed for the job and was elated to be chosen. I started working for JFF July 13, 2021. Many people go through their lives trying to find the job or career that brings them joy, makes them happy, gives them purpose. How lucky am I that I get to have 2 jobs that do all of that?
My husband and I are still trying to expand our family, and it’s been a very unique situation working for JFF while also experiencing infertility myself. I feel like my personal experience allows me to have true empathy for my clients and provide them with the support they need since I literally know what it’s like to go through similar experiences with infertility. JFF is an amazing organization with such a unique atmosphere. I love my colleagues and consider them friends, not just coworkers. Their partnership with CJFS here in Birmingham allows me to have another mentor and more colleagues to reach out to for advice and collaboration. I’m the happiest I’ve ever felt about my professional life and it’s hard to imagine my life without JFF in it.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
I started working for JFF in July 2021. My background is in speech-language pathology, but I also have experienced almost 7 years of infertility treatments while my husband and I have worked to grow our family. We have 3 beautiful sons. I’ve always been very vocal about our journey with infertility on social media, and as a result, I’ve talked with many people (familiar and strangers) over the years and tried to help them feel less alone during their journey with infertility. Getting to help others going through infertility as a job is a dream come true! There is such a need for support- emotional, financial, and educational during the rollercoaster of infertility, and JFF is such a vital resource.
Jewish Fertility Foundation provides financial assistance, emotional support, and education programming to Jewish people with medical infertility. JFF is currently located in Atlanta, Birmingham, Cincinnati, and Tampa but is scaling nationwide. Here in Birmingham, JFF is a partnership with Collat Jewish Family Services (CJFS). CJFS is a non-profit organization with a long-standing commitment based in Jewish values, to care for people of every faith, age, and race. They serve individuals and families at every stage of life, with a special focus on supporting independence and enriching quality of life for older adults.
JFF is a Jewish organization, our emotional support and educational resources are open to anyone experiencing infertility in our community. We offer a FREE, virtual support group every month open to all women experiencing infertility (here our support group is open to women in the Birmingham area). Support group is led by a licensed therapist, and it’s so helpful to talk with other women who have similar experiences and struggles. We also have an incredible fertility buddy program, where someone actively experiencing infertility is paired with a veteran, someone who previously experienced it. It’s incredible to have this 1:1 relationship to provide support each step of the way.
I don’t work for JFF to have another job. I work for JFF because I truly want to help as many people as possible experiencing infertility. Infertility is an unpredictable rollercoaster. No one should have to go through it alone, and it is so crucial to have as much support as possible. I also feel strongly about educating the community about infertility so everyone can better support their loved ones- friends, family, and acquaintances going through infertility. I’m so proud to work for JFF and hope to continue reaching as many people in our community as possible.
Other than training/knowledge, what do you think is most helpful for succeeding in your field?
Passion, drive, and empathy are crucial. We deal with very emotional issues, and infertility is truly a rollercoaster of emotions. This job is not just about completing tasks. We interact with people on a daily basis who are going through different struggles with infertility. It’s also very important to have drive- especially opening recently (July ’21) in a new community (Birmingham), it takes work to spread the word about our services. There are definitely lots of women and couples experiencing infertility, but it’s my role to work with fertility clinics and community resources to educate our community about what we have to offer. I think my own experience with infertility allows me to have more empathy since I can truly relate to what our constituents are going through.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
This doesn’t necessarily show my resilience with work but resilience in general.
My husband and I have 3 boys and are still trying to grow our family. We have gone through almost 7 years of infertility treatments. This includes- countless IUI’s, multiple surgeries, 2 egg retrievals, 5 frozen transfers and 6 miscarriages. It would be easier to say our family is complete, but in our hearts we don’t feel done. This journey has been beyond emotionally and physically draining, but I feel like we have to keep fighting.
- Website: www.jewishfertilityfoundation.org
- Instagram: jewishfertilityfoundation
- Facebook: Jewish Fertility Foundation
- Linkedin: jewishfertilityfoundation
Family Pics Photo Credit: Kim Eriksson Headshot Photo Credit: Beth Hontzas