My name is Jennifer Tolkachev, but my friends call me Jen or JTol (like JLo, JLaw, JHud, etc.)
What do you do at BOCA?: As Vice President, I oversee high-level strategy and manage team members on a number of technology accounts. I also sometimes get into the weeds and do some media pitching myself. It’s nice to be able to keep up relationships within the technology and business press. Additionally, I’m highly active in new business development, and I’m especially focused on expanding BOCA’s client roster in Southern California. Living in Irvine — the heart of Orange County’s technology community — puts me in a unique position to bring BOCA’s Silicon Valley expertise to the Southern California market. One other aspect of my job that I’m very passionate and excited about is expanding the marketing and PR program for BOCA itself. We have some great stories to tell, and I’ll be working closely with the team to increase our own thought leadership and positioning as an authority in all things digital PR and communications for the technology industry and related verticals.
What is life all about for you?: Family. Ever since I had kids, they have been my guiding light through life. I only have them for 18 years apiece before they go off into the world on their own, so I really try to be as much a part of their lives as possible — from volunteering at school and for their sports teams and musical theater adventures, to coordinating fun activities for their friends or just hosting everyone at our house. They’re growing up way too fast, and I’m trying to hold on for as long as I can and soak up every moment.
What drew you to PR?: I actually kind of fell into PR. I went to Smith College as a government major with the intention of going to law school. I was interested in politics, so I was recruited as a Publicity Coordinator for Senator Edward Kennedy’s re-election campaign against Mitt Romney, one of the country’s most hotly contested campaigns during the 1994 midterm election. It was the only time Senator Kennedy’s seat had ever been in jeopardy, so there was a lot of pressure to turn out the vote. Massachusetts has a huge amount of colleges, so we devised a strategy to turn out the vote amongst college students, who were likely Kennedy voters. My job was to travel to college campuses, sometimes with celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Gloria Steinam in tow, to energize students to register to vote and show up at the polls. The strategy worked, and Senator Kennedy was narrowly re-elected. A couple years later when I decided that I no longer wanted to pursue a law degree and needed to find another profession, I thought — why not PR, since I already have experience doing it? Living in Orange County during the dot com boom was the perfect opportunity to build a career in high-tech PR. The rest is history.
What do you do for fun when you’re not killing it at BOCA?: I love going to the coast. Whether it be hanging out on the beach, boating around the marina, or dining with a beautiful ocean view, my favorite things to do all involve being able to see the sparkling waters of the sea.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?: Greece, Greece, Greece! I’m dying to go to Greece for several reasons. First, my father’s side of the family is from Sparta. Second, I want to see the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, architecture, math, science, art, sports, and all of its other contributions to modern western civilizations. Third, I want to experience the beauty of the Aegean Sea and its many islands — particularly Santorini, where they are excavating Akrotiri, the earliest and most advanced city known to man that some experts believe is the lost city of Atlantis.
What are you binge watching right now?: Right now, I’m trying to play catch-up with some of the Star Wars offshoots, like Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Mandalorian. My family burned through Stranger Things 4 over Memorial Day weekend, so we’re just waiting for all the new seasons of Bridgerton, Emily in Paris, Ginny & Georgia and Cobra Kai. We’ve also been rewatching Downton Abbey with the kids. My husband and I used to be big Game of Thrones fans, so we’re interested in the House of Dragons series coming this August as well.
What is your number one motivator? My kids. They are a source of great inspiration for me. They are the most amazing young humans, and I’m constantly in awe of them and I learn from them every day. Not only do I strive to raise them properly, so that they become good citizens of the world who will contribute their talents and abilities to leaving the Earth a better place than they found it, but I also really want to be a good role model for them, especially professionally. I want to show them that women can thrive and contribute in high places, and that it’s possible to balance work and family life. That’s a lot of motivation right there!