How Jen Papadakis, owner of Jen Gets Social, spends her day

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Communications strategist, cancer survivor embraces changing self.

Editor’s note: “A Day in the Life” is a weekly feature by artist-educator Hannah Kasper Levinson, profiling a creative Daytonian’s daily routine from start to finish. “A Day in the Life” will highlight a range of individuals, from artists to cooks to small-business owners, who weave Dayton’s spirit of ingenuity into their everyday work and life.

Originally from Beavercreek, Jen Papadakis received degrees from Wright State University, working there for a decade to facilitate STEM City, a dorm encouraging minority and students with disabilities to pursue STEM education. At the time — 2010 — social media was starting to bloom and Papadakis saw its potential as a business tool. The University of Pennsylvania took notice and offered her a job in student support services, marketing their Suicide Prevention campaign. After a few years in Philadelphia, Papadakis returned to Dayton.

Then at age 34, everything changed for Papadakis when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. She took a break from all work and battled her cancer with 22 rounds of chemo.

It was at this point Papadakis decided to become her own boss, because, “Death is actually our boss. We don’t call the shots in this world, so I want to use my time and talent the way I want.” In 2019 she launched Jen Gets Social, focusing on career coaching, especially for women making career changes.



Papadakis, 39, recently moved into a century-old house surrounded by protected land in Clifton, a house that she actually grew up playing in. It had been left abandoned with four decades worth of belongings. With its “sacred place” on the river, Papadakis plans to create a retreat for cancer patients, and hopes to collaborate on empowerment retreats with her client, The Well for Wellness, a business she helped launch. “Since I went through breast cancer, one thing that’s crazy is how many young women get it, especially young Black women, and there’s no support and they have nowhere peaceful to go. And so I would love to make it into a retreat type place where women can come and be with their children, seek respite.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed


Papadakis rises before the sun at 3:30 a.m. and is reluctantly joined by Frank, her “geriatric, stinky pug.” She knows waking this early will allow her to get the best strategy writing done. “I sit at my desk and watch the sun come up over the river. And then I usually do my gratitude journal. Yes, I am highly educated, but I use stickers and markers and just let myself sit with that gratitude and the processing, because if I don’t it will get in the way of my work.”


Around 7 a.m. she is joined by her boyfriend, Andy. They have coffee and watch the beavers working on the river. “Usually, the beavers are heading down to do that dam stuff they’ve been doing at Glen Helen. They are out of control, they have dammed up the whole thing. We watch the beavers and hang out with the pug.”


After her early morning routine, she gets back to work and joins a series of virtual meetings. “I’ll have meetings either with my business coach or with my team of contractors who are on almost every project with me — social media coordinators and designers and things like that. Almost all virtual. My students are on five continents. My business coach and that team are all across the country.” When asked about her business coach, she says, “Business investment is investment in myself, ‘cause every lesson I’m learning in business is the same I learned in chemo. I always say ‘it’s supposed to hurt’ - I just keep learning that lesson. It takes the time it takes.”


Virtual meetings go until midday and then lunch is a break. She goes for a walk and does something around the house. She and Andy are in the throes of the long-term process of renovating an old house, squeezing in tasks whenever possible — wiring lights in a closet, going through items from the 1930s in the attic. Then there is a 45 minute “Thomas Edison nap.” Edison, says Papadakis, was the “king of naps.” He was in fact known to power nap as a brainstorming method, with a steel ball in each hand that would drop as soon as he fell asleep, snapping him alert in the middle of a dream thought.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed


Papadakis sits on various boards including the WYSO advisor board and Know Your Lemons, a GenZ-geared breast cancer awareness organization. After work, if she’s not attending a public relations event or book club, she is often hosting friends at River House. Toward evening, “I often have people over for dinner to connect. I always have a Greek salad on the table.” Friends gather and sit outside along the bank of the river, flanked by tiki torches. Children and dogs play. Her mom will come over too. They will paddle canoes at sunset, with a bottle of champagne.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed


Papadakis is in bed by 8 p.m. She reads every night. Right now, she is reading the memoirist Abigail Thomas, who writes, “What is home, anyway, but what we cobble together out of our changing selves?”

Find more info about Jen Papadakis and her business offerings at

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