Q&A: Joscelyn Cekola Boucher


Joscelyn Cekola Boucher. Courtesy Warner Norcross + Judd

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Joscelyn Cekola Boucher is a partner in the law firm Warner Norcross + Judd.

Boucher's practice focuses on corporate and securities law, with an emphasis on representing growth companies in all stages of development.

She counsels clients on a variety business transactions, from venture capital financing and private placements to research and development agreements and merger and acquisition transactions. 

A native of Kalamazoo, Boucher now serves as the executive partner for Warner’s growing Kalamazoo office.

Biggest career break?

In 2006, I moved back to West Michigan after living in Detroit for almost 10 years to be closer to my family and to practice in a community where I could make a difference. When I joined Warner in 2017, I felt I had found a great place to practice law — and to engage with the community I will always call home.

Proudest moment?

The birth of my three daughters, Alayna, 13, Allison, 9, and Elizabeth, 6, has been not only my proudest moment, but also my greatest achievement. Watching them learn and grow has been truly extraordinary and has given me a fresh perspective on life. Having a career has always been important to me, but family has always come first. Since I was a young girl myself, I knew I wanted to have my own family, and being a mom to those three girls has been the most fulfilling journey I’ve ever taken.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

It has to be: Own up to your mistakes. Sometimes it’s best to fall on your sword and acknowledge you’ve done something wrong. And when you do own up to mistakes, be sure to talk with someone face to face. Pick up the phone. Don’t send an email. Sometimes you just need to have hard conversations.

I learned this lesson early in my career when, as a young attorney, I made a mistake working on a project with an important partner. I talked with a mentor who encouraged me to self-report even though she knew I didn’t want to. I took a deep breath, went in and confessed – and together, we found a way to fix it. The partner was very nice and not nearly as concerned about it as I was. 

How did you make your first dollar?

When I was 14, I started busing tables and washing dishes at my uncle’s arcade and pizza parlor, Star World. At the time, it featured a game room with pool tables, video games and movie theaters and was where everyone had their birthday parties when I was a kid.

Most-treasured possession?

I have a handful of old-fashioned metal thimbles that belonged to my maternal grandmother, who passed away when I was 10. She used them for mending and sewing and kept them on a windowsill in her kitchen. When my grandfather passed away in 2007, and we cleaned out their house, they were still on the kitchen windowsill. I treasure them and now keep them with my jewelry.

Dream job?

I would love the chance to run a summer camp for kids. I had such great experience attending camps when I was growing up and want to share those great memories and experiences with children, particularly those growing up in the inner city. I was a school teacher in Pontiac and Detroit before attending law school and wrote a grant to take a class of fifth-graders for an overnight camping trip. Most of my students had never been camping before, and it was a great experience. Plus, you only work about 16 weeks a year — and you have lots of help!

If you were president for a day, you would … ?

I have absolutely no desire to be president for a day, so I would delegate it to my husband Ryan, who would enjoy the opportunity and make an outstanding president.

Last book you read?

Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” She’s inspirational to me and an incredible leader. Her story and the way she has balanced her own career while prioritizing her kids and family role is inspiring.

Last search term you googled?

Florida limited liability company — research for a client.

Your worst habit?

Probably interrupting when others are talking — at least according to my husband and kids.

To unwind, you like to … ?

I enjoy reading pretty much everything. Although, I do have to force myself to read non-fiction. I also have a guilty pleasure of watching truly terrible reality shows — they are so mindless yet addictive.

Dream vacation?

Definitely Bora Bora. Ryan and I went there for our honeymoon, and it was such an incredible vacation. The huts sit out over the water, so you can jump into the ocean right off your patio. The water was a crystal-clear blue, and we felt wonderfully isolated. This was all before cell phones and email were as demanding as they now are. If you wanted to check your email, you had to go into the lobby and find a computer — which we didn’t.  

Favorite food?

Honestly, I love all food, but I especially appreciate interesting ethnic food, like Indian and Mexican. I also enjoy trying new foods and flavors. Right now, I’m really into avocado toast.

Person you most admire?

My parents George and Melinda Cekola. They were exceptional role models, raising my brothers and I with a strong family bond and always supporting us. They truly demonstrated how important family is and how to be successful both personally and professionally. My dad owned his own business, and my mom was a school teacher.

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