One x One is an inspirational interview series that tells the stories of the bold and daring individuals creating a beautiful world. Much like our jewelry, this series is designed to bring attention and awareness to amazing women and the contributions they make on this world. One by one, they inspire us all to live our best life.
This time in One x One, we bring your attention to Joy and Allen Fowler, a modern couple embodying true partnership. Read on to learn more about their lives, achievements and how their support of each other has shaped their lives.
Joy Fowler is the Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager for the Port of Portland. Both her career and undergraduate studies began in her home town of New York City. Upon graduation, Joy moved to Portland, Oregon where she spent 34 years in the financial services industry. During her career she completed a Masters of Business Administration at Portland State University and her Certified Diversity Professional certification. In 2019, Joy was ready for a career outside of banking and took her skills to the Port of Portland. Joy is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., volunteers with Portland Workforce Alliance, and serves on the Portland Leadership Council of the United Negro College Fund. In her personal time, she is dedicated to spending time with her 3 grandsons, traveling, and serving as Co-founder of A MIRacle Foundation, Inc., a foundation that supports children with special needs along with the families/caregivers and organizations that care for them.
Allen Fowler is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of A MIRacle Foundation, a foundation that helps special needs children and those who support them! After attending college at Howard University and Portland State University, Allen went into the financial services industry. That work lead him to being recognized as a 40 under 40 and recipient of the distinctive Emerald Award for dedication & commitment to Business and Community Service. While raised in Ohio he has lived in many places from California to Germany, and now has settled down in Oregon with his wife, children and 3 grandkids. Outside of work, Allen enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, volunteering with his Fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi and attempting to play great golf!
Describe Yourself In One Word.
What is one of the hardest things you had to endure as a couple?
J: The loss of our youngest son
A: The loss of our son Amir!
How did you support one another through that?
J: We continue to support one another through our loss. Some days are easier than others. No matter whether an easy or difficult day we share great memories and talk about how this young person continues to impact so many lives, including our own.
A: We still support one another on a daily basis. Grief is hand led and felt differently by each individual. You can only meet that person where they are on that day. Our Faith and knowledge of each other allows us to stay positive and be there for each other no matter the challenge.
How did that change how you see the world?
J: For me I was changed immediately after Amir passed away. Race, religion, education, socio-economic status, gender, etc. did not matter to him, he welcomed people into his world based on what was in their heart. I remember looking out at his memorial and seeing how many people he touched. When I saw how so many different people come together to celebrate his life, I vowed to be different living my life as he lived his. So I am now more open, more welcoming, more forgiving, and more willing to receive people as they are. And after 8 years, I can say it was the best thing I decided to do.
A: Almost all of the things that I thought were important and imperative to have or achieve became meaningless. Now my goal is to help others succeed and put smiles on the faces of as many special needs children as I can.
What makes you feel alive today?
J: So many things make me feel alive today. The great work Allen and I do with the foundation gives me life and so much happiness. To see the number of children we are able to help is a blessing. My family also makes me feel alive – my time with Allen continuing to laugh, love, grow as a couple after 24 years of marriage – my 3 grandsons, who are fun-loving and curious and can get me to do just about anything – my son as I see him grow into an amazing man, father and partner with so much confidence and ease.
A: Watching a special needs child smile because of something that our foundation has done or provided! The only other joy that supersedes those smiles is spending time with my family. Being married almost 24 years has been a pleasure unlike any other. After losing our youngest it probably put a spotlight on our oldest, who is thriving as a husband and a father to our 3 Grandkids and that makes me beam from ear to ear.
Both of you do really important work - can you share something you are working on that you love?
J: Allen and I have a great partnership. That partnership is instrumental in how we run our foundation and it works. We understand one another’s strengths and provide support where we may not be as strong. That and a lot of love makes it wonderful.
A: We started A MIRacle Foundation out of hurt, pain and love after Amir passed. The foundation has helped with the hurt while easing the pain and accentuating the love for each other and for the families that we help. We are fortunate to touch the lives of a few thousand children a year; our big goal is to continue to do it one child at a time.
As a woman in your industry, what is something you like to see changed?
J: I work in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. As a woman, I would like to see an increase of women of color on Boards, in C-suite roles and in senior management. Women of color are dynamic and have qualities that can have organizations/companies operating on a completely different level.
What do you wish the world could see that you see in Joy?
A: She simply has a beautiful soul and an unjudging heart. I believe that only comes from being free, what I mean by that is she understands who she is and is comfortable in her own beautiful skin. Being able to just be Joy and unapologetic about being herself allows her to achieve the best for herself and see the best in others.
From your life experiences, what advice can you give to others?
J: Be open – open to new ideas, new people and new experiences. Take opportunities presented to you as they could change your life. And remember, life is short – enjoy every moment.
A: Stop thinking small, set your target at the impossible and in your failure you will find out what is possible!
My sense is that you both seem to pick up beautiful things when you are traveling. We met in Singapore when you bought your first Bhansali piece. What is the connection for you between traveling and buying things you love?
A: We love to travel and explore the uniqueness and perspective the world provides to us as a couple. Because without that exploration we limit ourselves and don’t become our best selves. The food the cultures are an eye opening experience all unto themselves, if you can do it, breathe in what the world has to offer. Whether it’s clothes or jewelry we absolutely enjoy purchasing beautiful things on our vacations, however that’s all they are if there isn’t a meaning or a memory associated with the purchase. The inspirational story you told us regarding why you started Bhansali and the inspiration behind each of your jewelry lines touched our hearts. The earrings we purchased from you will always remind us of a wonderful time in Singapore and a start of a friendship.
If you would like to learn how you can support the incredible work A MIRacle Foundation does for medically fragile children, please visit the website (https://amiraclefoundation.org/) for more information.