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Meet Portia James of Behavior Genius + Women Who Build

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

Portia, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I have worked in my field for 15 years. There are a few things that I have treasured more. I moved from entry-level to corporate-level before launching my own company.

I began providing adult residential services in 2016. For my first four years, I provided private consultation for six clients while working full time. My husband and I both unexpectedly lost our jobs in 2019, just after having our third child. In 2020, I changed my business model and set out to build the largest Social Skills program in the Inland Empire.

Since the change, Behavior Genius has overcome the most staggering global pandemic of our time. My practice has grown from zero to over 140 clients and 125 employees. This year, we are projected to gross nearly $4 million in revenue.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The road has not been an easy one to travel, but it has undoubtedly made me who I am.

I have spent my career shrinking myself in order to fit into white, male-dominated spaces. I have had to work harder than everyone else in the building just to be treated as an equal. I had two miscarriages while working in a corporate position and I felt obligated to return to work the same day because large corporations make it clear that if you want to play at that level, you have to be willing to forfeit everything that makes you a woman, and even more of what makes you black.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Behavior Genius now has two treatment centers (Ontario, CA and High Desert). We provide ethical behavior-analytic services for children and adults with a wide variety of disabilities. We also provide social skills training, parent coaching, and caregiver education. My personal specialty is family systems. At Behavior Genius, we look at the entire family and how each member is impacted by the specific needs of their loved one.

It is a personal mission of mine to give back to underrepresented communities. Behavior Genius is an incredibly diverse company – Minorities represent 92% of our staff. In addition, to date, Behavior Genius has spent over $300K in women- and minority-owned businesses. Our goal is to hit $1M in minority spending by 2025. We are going to smash that goal.

I am committed to making a difference. To every extent that I can, I will shake the table and encourage other women to do the same through my business coaching company, Women Who Build, which will officially launch on November 1! Women Who Build provides business coaching for women of color who are interested in launching, developing, or scaling their businesses.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
My biggest advice for finding a mentor would be to find someone who is where you want to be or is at least further along on the same path. Especially for business owners, it’s so easy for us to get caught up in all of the “business advice” that our friends, families, and colleagues have to give us. Though well-intentioned, anyone who is not a model of the life that you want to live should not hold value for you in the area of mentorship as it pertains to your business.

I would also stress the importance of strategically positioning yourself to gain relevant insights and information from credible sources. Attend conferences and networking events, subscribe to newsletters, etc.


  • At Behavior Genius, our services are 100% free for families! We are in partnership with several major insurance companies: IEHP, Cigna, Aetna, and Magellan
  • Coaching at Women Who Build is individualized based on client needs. Our Initial Consultation is FREE.

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Image Credit: Ambar Gabriela Trujillo Photography

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