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Exploring Life & Business with Portia James of Behavior Genius

Today we’d like to introduce you to Portia James.

Hi Portia, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I have been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst since 2011. I attended California State University, San Bernardino right after high school, and at the time, I knew that I would go into Behavioral or Mental Health post-grad, but I never imagined that I would find myself here. I am currently the owner and Chief Executive Officer at Behavior Genius LLC – a company that provides behavioral treatment for children and adults with special needs throughout the Inland Empire. I am also a wife and a mother of 3. Those 4 people inspire me every single day.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has absolutely NOT been a smooth road!! For starters, I was 21 when I began in this field. Most people assume that the work itself is the difficult part, but that’s far from true. I LOVE what I do. I was very young when I entered the field, and oftentimes the only woman of color in a field that has historically been comprised of older white men and women as you start to climb the ladder. I received very little training when I started, so I used my best resource at the time – I faked it till I made it! I became resourceful enough to ask the necessary questions and build relationships with anyone who would mentor me.

At 23, I had my first child and stepped into a role as a single mama, working full time in a professional field. I was underestimated at almost every turn for almost 15 years. I was complimented on how “well-spoken” I was after also every presentation, as though they expected less. I was type-casted to deal with the most complex clients because as my first boss would say, “Ain’t nobody messin’ with Miss Porsh.” My clinical recommendations were challenged in meetings where no other professional was questioned. I was the only brown girl most of the time. I often felt as though people prejudged me by my race, my gender, and my age. Actually, my business name was born from a sarcastic comment that I made in a district meeting, where I snapped back and told everyone that my title was “Behavior Genius” since no one could ever remember my actual title, Behavior Analyst – although they remembered everyone else’s and had known me for years. I spent a lot of time attempting to break the glass ceiling and rise above every stereotype. Over time, I realized that all that I am would never be enough so long as I continued to sit at someone else’s table. I think that living and working as my authentic self has been my saving grace in this field.

We’ve been impressed with Behavior Genius LLC, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
At Behavior Genius, we specialize in providing dynamic and individualized Behavior Treatment services to individuals with a variety of special needs. Currently, we provide both in-home and center-based Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Treatment, Social Skills Training, and Adult Residential Services. We also provide business consultation to help other companies who may need help building the operational side of their businesses.

Brand-wise, I am most proud of the culture of our company. We genuinely love our staff and the families that we serve. As a unit, we make every single person that we come into contact with feel like they matter, because they truly do. This is all evidenced by our recent accreditation as a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence! Our team scored incredibly high on parent and staff surveys. It blows me away that I would be blessed to work alongside like-minded professionals who just care about people. That’s what it’s all about.

Any big plans?
As the year closes, I’ve been thinking a lot about the next steps for my company. With our accreditation underway, I would like to branch out and just continue to streamline and perfect our service delivery model across departments, making them higher-quality and even more robust. We will also be partnering more closely with the Carsyn Neille Foundation and using their platform to give back to the childhood cancer community as an organization. I came into 2020 completely broken and afraid after leaving my previous company. I had NO plan. Most companies have been on a hiring freeze due to COVID, and I just felt stuck not being able to find work. But this year really showed me what God can do with nothing. My only goals are to continue making a difference and to be better than I was the year prior – as an individual and as an organization.

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Image Credits

Philip Alan Photography

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