Jennifer Barnwell found a career path that combines her love for travel with her financial and analytic skills. As president of Curator Hotel & Resort Collection since 2020, she gets to create new memories and experiences while working with owners and operators of independent hotels.
Curator, which was launched by Pebblebrook Hotel Trust that year, already has more than 90 member properties since its launch.
You can often find Barnwell on the road, but she says it doesn’t compare to what—or whom—she has at home: a 5-year-old daughter and an 11-month-old son.
How do you balance your career while being a parent and raising a family?
I tend to be an organized person. I’m really big on planning and just getting things done.
I think that’s the key for me. I love my job, and I love working. It makes me a happier person. It definitely makes me a better parent. Keeping that in mind, you have to figure everything else out so that you can be successful in your career. But it’s also important for me to be present for my husband and my kids.
You also can’t do it without having amazing people to share the responsibility with and rely on, whether that’s my husband—who is fantastic and definitely a partner in this—or child care providers.
What is it like to raise a family in the DMV?
We had our first child when we still lived in downtown Washington (D.C.), and it was manageable. I had moved down from New York City, so I was used to the city life. And it was OK with one child. But we ended up moving to Montgomery County, Maryland, in 2019, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, just because I felt like a city person.
But it has been fantastic for us. We’re very lucky in the position that we’re in. We have so much more room. It’s like all the cliches: We have a yard. We have a bigger house, and we also have this amazing community.
What challenges are there in being a parent, especially when you are so busy?
I think there are sacrifices and tradeoffs you make. There are a few occasions where I’ll miss something. My daughter had this amazing parent event at preschool, and I couldn’t make it to that because I was on a business trip. Other times I’ve made tradeoffs where I’ve pushed off some work so that I could get home at a certain time. Once the kids are in bed, I’ll reopen my laptop and work for a couple more hours until 10 p.m.
It may not be every night, but it’s somewhat frequent. With small children, there is a very small window between dinnertime and bedtime. I have made that conscious decision to come home sometime between 5 (p.m.)and 6 p.m. so that I can see them before bed, knowing that I still have a lot more to do.
What do you love most about being a parent?
You can’t even imagine. I know it’s a cliche, but there’s this love you feel for this little person when they arrive. When they’re babies, they are so cute and cuddly, and you want to take a million pictures of them. But it keeps getting better and better.
My little girl is turning into a real little person, and she says the most hilarious things sometimes. It shows me she’s really growing up, but she’s also paying attention to everything I say. I think the most rewarding part is it enriches your life and brings a new dynamic to your life that you didn’t expect, and you couldn’t have prepared yourself for it.