Paige Brinkley ’04

Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board

Tell us about a woman who is your hero and why?

My mother is my hero. At the age of 18, my mother decided, in lieu of university, to enter the workforce and, eventually, she joined the male-dominated field of Airline Operations as a Flight Dispatcher. She joined, not only because of her interest in this complex field but, because, as the first female Flight Dispatcher in Jamaica, she would demonstrate that women were also capable of occupying this role. She encountered all the obstacles that working women faced in the 70s and 80s but still managed to rise through the ranks and eventually headed the department as the first female director.

It was incredibly inspiring and motivating to witness my mother’s journey (all done while she was raising me). She has never felt that gender should be a deterrent from achieving a goal and now, in her early 70s, she’s showing that age shouldn’t either. She has spent the past 10 years successfully running a business that is in an entirely different field from the one with which she was most familiar. She has taught me the importance of finding purpose and meaning in the work I do, of constantly pushing and testing myself, and of exploring all opportunities presented to me. Without this example of strength, resilience, and determination, I don’t think I would be half the woman I am today.

What motivates you in your work and life?

Helping make a positive impact on the lives of others is my motivation.  I’ve always been drawn to public service.  As a child, my mother and I would visit local orphanages, and it was this early introduction that taught me how doing so “little” can mean so much. I continued this practice by volunteering at an old age home for the poor in Jamaica and by serving as a Big Sister in the Big Brother/Big Sister program at Williston. These experiences taught me that serving others is something that I wanted to do more than a couple of hours weekly—that I wanted to incorporate it into my professional life. With that goal set, I realized that becoming a lawyer was the best way for me to make that happen. I currently work for the National Labor Relations Board, whose mission is to protect workplace democracy and the rights of employees, unions, and employers under the National Labor Relations Act. My job as an advisor to Board members motivates me daily and allows me to fulfill my desire to help others.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

As someone who struggled with imposter syndrome, I routinely discounted my achievements and accomplishments. A friend pointed out that I never allow those I care about to do that; the moment someone around me expresses any doubt, I remind them of all they’ve done to accomplish their goals. My friend encouraged me to treat myself the same way. When I feel the seeds of doubt taking root, I pause and think about what I would tell a friend. Basically, as simple as it sounds, the best advice I’ve received is to believe in myself. I’ve gotten where I am because of the quality of my work. Keeping this in mind has built my confidence and helped me better advocate for myself—if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?