One might think that going from a village in Nicaragua with no running water to electricity to hanging out with a very successful rock band called the Flobots is pretty strange. But for Jami Duffy it’s just part of circular patterns that seem to keep happening. That is, there are no barrier and experiences bring you full circle back to use your previous experience.
Jami had never been on a plane until she joined the Peace Corp and spent three years in a tiny village in Nicaragua where there was no electricity and no running water. Sounds pretty primitive but Jami jumped right in and it still provides a lot of fond memories.
She returned to the mountains of Colorado, but soon tired of the snow – “I am not a penguin”, as it turned out.
She moved to Denver and pursued her interest in Social Justice. She was part of a student caravan to DC and was also interested in Haiti and homelessness. There was a lot on her plate, but Jami believes that “clarity will come if you serve.” And clarity came.
Polly Baca (also a Have You Met? Was throwing a party to celebrate the nomination and confirmation of Justice Sotamayor. The Justice called the party. While Jami was at the party she saw a couple and felt that she knew them and felt a soul connection. It turned out the couple were parents of one the members of the Flobots. They said do you know the Flobots?
A long story short is that she joined the Flobots Board in 2009 and in July 2010 she became the executive director. She started before their album went Platinum. But as she got to know them and realize their commitment to Denver she was hooked. Jami says, “What I like about the Flobots is that they were all teachers in the Denver Public School system and they have a real commitment to the community. “ They haven’t moved to LA, they don’t have gigantic entourages, and they are still “down home”.
The Flobots (www.flobots.org) have a number of programs to benefit the students and the community at large. Among them, Art To Action, Youth on Record, Fight With Tools, Flobots Community Space and the Speakers Series.
We are working on creating a music studio with other bands in the area to use music involvement as a tool to keep kids in school. This new facility was dedicated earlier in February
Jami probably owes a lot of her ability to meet and be comfortable with people because of her grandfather Bernard Duffy. Longtime Denverites will certainly remember Duffy’s Restaurant downtown. Bernard also owned the Cherry Cricket, another Denver institution and served as the Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (which started out of Duffy’s restaurant one day) until he died.
We hope the “luck of the Irish” continues to smile on Jami in her efforts.
Who is your hero and why? Both parents. They have been together since they were 14 and 15, they grew together and they truly defied the odds. They are committed to service to others – law enforcement, child care. That had a big impact on me.
What was your first job? My first "official" job was at the Outlet mall, in a shoe store. Before that I was babysitting at 11. My mom did child car in our house and I learned how to change diapers at age 5 and believe me I have changed a lot of diapers in my life.
What one word describes you best? Believer….. in the possibilities
What is always in your fridge? Hummus and veggies
What word or expression do you use too much? “it’s a sign from the universe”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would like to make more time for athletic and fitness endeavors. I used to play volleyball, but now I would like to make time for dance, or other low impact activities. If it’s not fun or meditative, I'm not that interested.
What is your greatest indulgence? Endless conversation
What is the best gift you have ever been given? My 3 years in Nicaragua. The best future gift will be travelling to Uganda and Rwanda with Jamie Van Leeuwen.
What is a favorite childhood memory? I staged my first protest in the 5th grade on the playground. That provided me with a lot of insight into people's behavior. We had a mock colony and we all took it pretty realistically.
Do you play music? I don’t play but I do sing to myself.
What talent would you most like to have? Musical. I would love to play instruments. I became fluent in Spanish when I worked and lived in Nicaragua and I am interested in languages as well.
What is an achievement your are proud of? I was able to graduate from college with 2 degrees in 3 years. I am proud of my time in the Peace Corps. And I am proud that the Flobots foundation has come a long way in a short period of time.
What is your current state of mind? Optimistic, focused.
What is your favorite book: The Alchemist
Best advice your ever received? When you get nervous, focus on service. Louise Hay author
What is your motto? Keep calm. Carry on.