My son had a health emergency. Avanade’s flexibility meant I didn’t have to choose between work and family.

  • Posted on September 14, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes

On April 14, 2020 – one month into an already tumultuous time in the world – my 24-year-old son, Niko suffered a stroke. And in an instant, my life changed dramatically. A million thoughts ran through my mind all at once: Will he be okay? How could this have happened? But one thought that never crossed my mind: concern for my responsibilities at work. I knew Avanade would support me.


Thankfully, Niko made it through; but his road to recovery was to be a long one. He began with inpatient treatment at Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, and I moved in with him for those six weeks. To accommodate my work responsibilities, I became a part of Avanade’s Alternative Work Week (AWW) pilot, where we have the option to choose the work hours and days that work best for us. Because of this program, I was able to adjust my work schedule and worked when he was in therapy or asleep.


After three months in the hospital, our son came home from his rehab. I again had to adjust my work schedule to accommodate his needs and various medical related appointments. Life was chaotic physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our college athlete now needed a lot of care, including basic needs: bathing, getting dressed, and eating. And through it all, the only questions from my bosses and colleagues at Avanade was “Are you OK?” I knew my colleagues, and Avanade, always had my back.


So what does our ability to work flexibly at Avanade mean to me? EVERYTHING. It means I was able to care for my son when he needed me most. It means that I do not have to choose between caring for my son or doing my job. It means I have the confidence that I can make appointments as directed by the medical team without compromising my role. And most importantly, it means I feel empowered to spend time with my son. This is important to the healing process.


When Niko left Shirley Ryan, we were told that he may be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. Within days of being home, my son was walking with assistance. It has been two years since he left rehab, and he is walking with a brace or a cane. He is gaining confidence and is now a substitute teacher. His success is the result of his hard work and our support. This support would not have been possible were it not for AWW. I continue to spend the time needed to support my son’s recovery. Everyone has a different reason for enrolling in AWW. My reason is Niko. I am his forever parent.

Lora Harmon

Jacki: I knew you had some personal things going on but had no idea it was your son. What an inspiration you are to all of us! Thank you for sharing your story and for making me #AvanadeProud!

October 4, 2022

Krishna Anand

More power to you Jacki - Wishing you all good things !!! Hope your son recovers soon and sending you love from this side of the globe.

September 28, 2022

Laura Sewell

Jacki, You are an inspiration.... To me and to so many people inside and outside Avanade. And I know Niko is an inspiration to you!! You make me #AvanadeProud

September 28, 2022

Nilay Dassani

Hi Jacki, sending you and your incredible son lots of love from across the pond. As a parent to a little boy, your words are truly inspirational and it’s confirmed my belief that being a parent is the single most important job one can hold. I hope his road to recovery continues to be positive and I know from personal experience that substitute teachers were always the best! Best wishes to you and the entire Avanade HR team. 

September 26, 2022

Emily Warren

Thank you for sharing this Jacki, and for being so open about everything you and your family were going through. Your kindness and determination was an inspiration. We're lucky to have someone with that kind of character as part of our team, and I know you share that kindness with our colleagues here everyday

September 20, 2022

Jacalyn Liuzzo-Malles

Emily- I will always be grateful for your support and kindness during this time.  Your concern and encouraging words truly helped.

September 20, 2022

Inside Avanade Newsletter

Stay up to date with our latest news.

Share this page
Modal window