THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 76: Dana Marlowe, President of IT Consulting Firm

Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”


  • Looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT, the novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.
  • The Balance Project interview series recently celebrated its first birthday!
  • Fortune ran a feature about The Balance Project.
  • Want to be a part of The Balance Project? Complete the interview.

No. 76: Dana Marlowe, President of IT Consulting Firm

Age: 38
Where I live:
 Metro Washington, D.C.
Job: President of IT Consulting Firm
Kids: Two boys, ages 3 and 6

Dana_14Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
The work/life balance is tricky. Well, I’m sure everyone says that and inserts their own synonymous adjective there. To paint a picture: I feel like a tightrope walker balancing a bunch of spinning plates on sticks. While I’m up there, I’m hoping that nothing drops or slips through the cracks. Sometimes I’m more coordinated than others. Sometimes I’m sweeping up broken china.

Luckily, I’ve found a few hacks that help out. Sometimes, adjusting my schedule to accommodate for different needs has helped significantly. Kind of like a kick in the pants to my Outlook calendar, and multitasking. Here’s an example: I’ll pick up a prescription or drop off dry cleaning mid-day on a weekday so that it doesn’t have to get done on the weekend. Then, I might work in the evenings those days to compensate. Thus, my weekends are free from weekday spillover!

Also if you love what you do, the work/life balance becomes a bit more of a work/life integration. And that “balance” just becomes life. So if folks are passionate about their profession and love their career, there is not always the need to draw concrete delineations between “work” and “life.”

Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
My industry is the same, but my role has changed significantly since I became a mom. Before I had my children, I was the Senior Vice President of an IT consulting firm. During my maternity leave with my first son, I sketched out a business plan for a new company. Before he was crawling, I executed on it. Essentially, I took on the added responsibility of starting up a consulting firm. Now, add a few years and one more kid, and I’m a principal partner of a thriving accessibility technology consulting firm. Believe me, my office looks vastly different now than it did a few years ago when I was at the other company.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I think we can all have it all in doses. Clearly not every day 24 x 7, because life happens. However, it is a realistic lifestyle if one is cognizant that ‘it all’ can come in smaller quantities. There are weeks where I feel I’m on top of the world, and then others where I’m just getting by. It’s about being honest with your expectations.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
My husband and I both travel a considerable amount for our respective careers. It’s just the nature of our careers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have some difficulty. The long hours of travel, coupled with airport dancing, have been notably difficult and it doesn’t feel well balanced. It takes a toll on our kiddos, as well as us. Gives a whole new meaning to jet lag.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I try to really focus on my kids before school and after school until bedtime. Doesn’t mean I’m 100% perfect at it, but I’m improving. I sometimes have to put some overtime work projects off to the side, but I really want them to have more of my attention.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From your mother? 
My mom instilled in me the importance of being happy. Happiness is paramount. Life is short, might as well be happy. But if we’re going with family members, I always go back to advice I heard from my stepfather many years ago. As he says, it’s simple, just two words, but can be applied to so many of the business decisions that were occurring at the beginning and still today. His words to me were to never forget that “everything counts.”

 It’s general advice that I can now remember when dealing with large new prospective clients or my co-workers. Each person carries a value that can’t be ignored for the success of the company. Needless to say, my stepfather’s advice has helped and continues to help me out a ton.
From your spouse?
“Just do it.”
From your kids? 
“Put down your phone.”

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Easy peasy. I know the answer to that one right away. I’d be socializing with friends…IRL not on the phone or online. The art of getting together seems to be disappearing, and I’d love to be indulged the time.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Well, of course hindsight is 20/20. I’d tell younger Dana to not be so worried and stressed out about how it’s going to turn out in a couple decades. It’s all going to work out.

What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
The importance of chilling out and relaxing. I need to learn this, hopefully as soon as possible. At 60, I envision myself like a boatman floating down the Mississippi.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Mealtime prep. I’d hire a cook for my kids, who haven’t seemed to realize I’m not a short order cook. That way, everyone gets what they want.

Whose job do you wish you had?
Marlee Matlin’s or Claudia Gordon’s. My dream would be to be able to publicly discuss accessibility, inclusion, and equality for people with disabilities in an even more international public forum. That’s such an empowering position, and these women do amazing jobs.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Tax Auditors. I hate numbers. And Excel.

Favorite books?
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, and Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.

What are you reading right now?
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman and The Digital Crown by Ahava Leibtag.

Biggest vices…
Not exercising enough and picking my cuticles if I’m nervous.
 Chocolates like Ferrero Rocher. Sweets. Candy like Sour Patch Kids.
Website? Facebook and Buzzfeed. I bet a lot of people say that.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
6. Not always continuous.

What do you read every morning?
CNET magazine stories, top trending stories in my inbox from, emails, Facebook updates.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: enjoy reading Entertainment Weekly magazine more than I should.
I wish I: didn’t worry about stuff outside my control.
My kids: are my everything and teach me so much daily.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
It’s something that Billy Joel wrote to my dad on a photo that my mom keeps in her house: “Don’t take no sh-t from anyone.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk more about accessibility. It’s not supposed to be this wild inspirational story. I believe that technology is a great unifier. It levels the playing field. Accessibility is the nexus where technology innovation and disability advocacy meet. It’s an incredible union, made all the more powerful by increased employment of workers with disabilities.

PastedGraphic-2PastedGraphic-2About Dana:
Dana Marlowe is the principal partner and co-founder of Accessibility Partners LLC, an accessibility IT consulting firm. Dana works to remove extraneous barriers in technology and to make opportunities available for people with disabilities. Dana partners with federal agencies and Fortune 500 businesses to help them test, consult, and train on accessible IT products. Her experience has enabled her to dictate best practices through her thorough expertise on the current landscape of the issues most pressing to those in the disability and technology community. She has been featured in countless industry and widespread publications to promote inclusive and accessible technology.  She’s passionate about the accessibility message and has enjoyed sharing it as a keynote speaker on four different continents.

Find more about Dana here:
Twitter: @Access_Partners and @DanaMarlowe
Facebook: danamarlowe and AccessibilityPartners
Instagram: @danamarlowe1
Pinterest: Who’s got time for this?

Related Posts
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 1: Jessica Mindich, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 3: Emily Liebert, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 5: Lauren Slayton, Nutritionist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 6: Elizabeth Moyer, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 7: Annabel Monaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 8: Holly Gordon, Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 9: Jill Salzman, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 10: Jennifer Levinson, Jen’s List
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 11: Jenny Hutt, Media Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 12: Angela Santomero, Kids’ Media Creator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 13: Carola Donato, Yogi
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 14: Tiffany Washington, Pastry Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 15: Emily Giffin, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 16: Alana Sanko, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 17: Cara Lemieux, Journalist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 18: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Authors
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 19: Nikki Mark, Author & Foundation Director
Shonda Rhimes on Doing It All
Indra Nooyi on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 21: Jill Bryan, Comedian
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 22: Cindy Callaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 23: Stephanie Hirsch, Artist
My Times of India Interview on Work-Life Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 24: Whitney Dineen, Author/Baker
AmEx’s Sobbott on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 25: J0-Laine Duke-Collins, Dessert Stylist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 26: Whitney English, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 27: Jennifer Gooch Hummer, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 28: Melissa Amster, Book Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 29: Nigel Marsh, Author and Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 30: DayNa Decker, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 31: Amy Selling, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 32: Heather Sonnenberg, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 33: Allison Winn Scotch, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 34: Bibi Kasrai, Entrepreneur and Chef
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 35: Karen Sutton MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 36: Samantha Ettus, Balance Expert, Author, TV/Radio Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 37: Pam Yudko, Holistic Health and Transformational Coach
THE BALANCE PROJECT| No. 38: Nancy Huang, Nonprofit Outreach Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 39: Mary Laura Philpott, Writer, Editor and Illustrator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 40: Towanda Long, Marketing Communications Specialist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 41: Kristyn Kusek Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 42: Tracy Pollan, Actor and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 43: Christianne Phillips, Fitness Consultant and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 44: Susannah Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 45: Kimi Culp, Producer, Author and Creative Consultant
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 46: Traci Bild, Entrepreneur
The Balance Project Interview Series Turns 1!
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 47: Laura Vanderkam, Journalist and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 48: Amy Tara Koch, Style Expert and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 49: Cozy Friedman, Kids’ Hair Expert
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 50: Bobbii Hach-Jacobs, Music Promoter
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 51: Niketa Jhaveri, Game Creator and Web Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 52: Sheri Silver, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 53: Lori Pollan, Cookbook Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 54: Chatón Turner, Attorney and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 55: Joanne Wilson, Investor and Blogger
HE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 56: Nicola Kraus, Author and Creative Coach
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 57: Shiri Sarfati, Marketing Expert
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 58: Audrey McClelland, Entrepreneur and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 59: Jessica Lahey, Writer and Teacher
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 60: Lindsay Bressler, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 61: Marie Claire Lim Moore, Banker, Author and Speaker
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 62: Stacey Ballis, Novelist and Cookbook Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 63: Amy Hochhauser: Co-Founder, JoyRide Cycling Studio
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 64: Molly Sims, Actress, Author and Humanitarian
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 65: Colleen Oakley, Writer and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 66: Nichole Montoya, CEO of Cheddar Up
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 67: Eileen Palma, Author and Instructor
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 68: Adina Grigore, Founder of S.W. Basics
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 69: Dana Pollan, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 70: Melissa Hawks, Owner, The Well Appointed House
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 71: Emily Greenspan, Art Consultant
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 72: Michelle Hodges, Software Executive and See Girl Be Founder
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 73: Kendra Basner Mallen, Attorney
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 74: Alysa Bajenaru, Dietitian and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 75: Anita Shepherd, Founder of Anita’s Yogurt

Leave A Comment