J’Aimeka “Jai” Ferrell

She’s built a powerhouse career but credits the inspiring women in her life above all else.

Raised by her grandmother and mother, Atlanta native J’Aimeka “Jai” Ferrell was taught to chase dreams from an early age. Amid a busy childhood filled with activities such as clubs and church, 13-year-old Ferrell accompanied her mother to her job at Turner Field one day and met Jennifer Berger, a producer who was the first of her mentors in a long line of women who have supported other women in their careers. “It was so cool,” Ferrell says. “She told me what a game producer was, and I was interested—not in baseball but in producing something.”

Eventually, her mother’s supervisor hired Ferrell as a guest relations intern at Turner Field—after her previous mentor, Berger, walked into the room and affirmed the decision. Ferrell “kicked butt” in her internship, which led to a role with Turner Broadcasting System at the Techwood Campus. There, she met Barbara Griffin, another inspiration for Ferrell, who got her on board with producing events for CNN’s Black in America. “Barb pushed me out of the nest,” Ferrell explains. “After that, people knew who I was.” Still, challenges were on the horizon. After successful stints with Peachtree TV and PlayOn! Sports, Ferrell hit an obstacle: She was laid off . “I was devastated,” she says. “I cried so hard.”

One day, a friend of Ferrell’s called and asked her to contribute to a marketing project for the Ford Fusion. From then, Ferrell realized she could work as a marketing consultant—which she did successfully until she was hired as manager of marketing and creative services at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Now, as the airport’s chief commercial officer and deputy general manager, Ferrell is busier than ever, but she says the most important truths of her career and her life remain the same. “They let me be myself without limits,” she says. “I’m able to wake up every day and contribute to a global economy, and I take all the women who have inspired me into every room with me. If anything had been different, I wouldn’t be here now.”