It is impossible not to notice Jamie Greenawalt’s bright eyes and warm smile when meeting her for the first time. A Sewanee alumni who graduated in 2003, Greenawalt is a leader whose passion for helping others and dedication to global welfare has shaped her career journey and led to her current position as the President of Foot Levelers. It is no wonder that she was the Babson Center’s 2023 Bryan Viewpoints Speaker, an opportunity she used to talk about her work and the impacts she has made both locally and around the world.
During her time at Sewanee, Greenawalt was incredibly involved. “My Sewanee experience was very rich. I had a lot of wonderful experiences,” Greenawalt said. “I rode crew my first year, and I was involved with the Sewanee Outreach Program, where I did a couple of alternative spring break trips. I went to Honduras for one year, and the following two springs, I went to New York, and I led the New York trip. I’ve always loved volunteering, so that was fun.”
Greenawalt was also part of her sorority’s program board, which allowed her to be involved in planning and hosting events. Despite arriving at Sewanee with the intention of majoring in geology, Greenawalt eventually majored in international and global studies (IGS) and minored in environmental ethics.
Greenawalt put her IGS degree to good use. She reflects on her career journey, saying, “I worked on some projects in the Middle East in the early 2000s, and I moved to Iraq and lived in Baghdad during the surge in ’06 and ’07 and supported the local government project.”
This intimidating endeavor, which took place amid conflict and required Greenawalt to be on alert at all times, was incredibly “gratifying” due to the ability to make such a wide-reaching impact in the region she was serving. After spending eight months in Iraq, Greenawalt returned to the United States, where she attended business school and gained skills that not only supplemented all that she’d learned at Sewanee but prepared her to transition into her family’s business, Foot Levelers.
Eager to explore other careers, Greenawalt temporarily left Foot Levelers to take on other projects. She worked on an anti-corruption project in East Timor for a year and a half. She then spent seven years at the World Bank, focusing on food and nutrition security in South Asia, primarily in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. What Greenawalt loved most about her time at the World Bank was “working with these communities, working with mothers, and working for the benefit of the children and the next generation of people in those cultures.”
Greenawalt’s dedication to caring for those around her and improving people’s wellness and quality of life is evident in the kinds of service activities she took part in during her college years and the types of people-centered career opportunities she’s had, including her most recent career shift to serving as the President of Foot Levelers.
With great power comes great responsibility, and Greenawalt has done her best to uphold the values of the Foot Levelers company. Over the course of her leadership at Foot Levelers, Greenawalt has been able to implement Mother Nurture. This orthotic package supports pregnant women through the three significant phases of pregnancy.
Greenawalt began this project while pregnant with her second child in 2020, after not having the comfort she needed during her first pregnancy. “When I was working at the World Bank, I couldn’t do anything to try and help myself because I wasn’t working at my family business at the time, “Greenawalt said. “But the second go around, I thought, I will absolutely try to develop something that can help me. If we did it right, we would be able to replicate the process so other women could benefit from the great invention of this thing that takes away all the back pain that’s really common in pregnancy.”
The Foot Levelers company is impressive for addressing a need that most people don’t think about but actively struggle with. “Your feet are the foundation of your body, and they have three arches. All the weight in your body is in your feet, and if any of those arches degrade over time and collapse, that’s called plastic deformation. There’s no going back after that, but you can support it from further degradation. These orthotics support you and level your foot the way it should be leveled so that the rest of your body is not crooked,” explained Greenawalt.
Working in a family business is an interesting experience. “I admire so much what my father has done to grow this business,” Greenawalt said, “and I certainly have a sense of responsibility to continue to be able to do that and to provide for my family and all the families that we provide a livelihood for.” Greenawalt has also become conversant with the importance of working well with her team to achieve a goal instead of believing she has to know and do everything because she is a leader. Rather, there is virtue in trusting your team and letting everyone’s assets shine.
Greenawalt recognizes that her Sewanee education enabled her to navigate so many industries during her career journey. She stresses the importance of “the writing skills students get, the creative thinking skills students are encouraged to lean into, the globally conscious mind, and the cultural diversity students are aware of.” Greenawalt also values the ability to keep a positive attitude, find the good in things, have the tenacity not to give up or let go of whatever is important to you, and foster the will to develop a skill and work hard.
Ultimately, Greenawalt believes that Sewanee students should make the most of their time on the mountain by “asking lots of questions, being curious, leaning into new experiences and not saying no just because you don’t understand but asking more questions to try and clarify.” She adds, “Have an open mind and be hungry to learn all that you can because that’s what college is for.”