It comes as a surprise, quite quickly, to anyone with even a passing familiarity of Rachel Denise Fox that she was once a self-described “very awkward” child.
“I had social anxiety for a very long time,” Fox recalled.
Today, Fox truly does it all: founder of nonprofit You Go Girl; manager of learning and development with Covr Financial Technologies; model; actress; and, pivoting to among her latest accolades, Game Changer of the Year.
“The specific acknowledgment of a ‘game changer’ is the notion that what I have done has helped change the game,” she said. “As a woman and a Black woman, I am humbled to be a representation of this incredible award.
“I see girls, women, moms, wives and other humans who may think they are stuck with what they have been dealt … Changing the game is possible at any point in life.”
Even with these and other recognitions, not limited to Greater Omaha Chamber Young Professional Changemaker in 2019 and Mrs. Nebraska Top Finalist in 2019 and 2020, Fox insists she remains an introvert — what she calls her “default setting.”
“I love being at home in my own space,” she explained. “I love animals. In fact, I have a pet tortoise who has some Instagram reels that are more popular than I am. I have a dog and a cat. I have a bearded dragon and a snapping turtle. My dream would be to get a hedgehog in the near future.”
Endearing and complex, Fox first embarked on her career as a phone representative for hotel reservations.
“My path has always been service-oriented — whether it was serving through sales, providing technical assistance, training or managing projects, the end game has been serving others,” she said.
In 2017, Fox pivoted toward entrepreneurship, starting a consulting business focused on web development and design.
“I am proud to say that I am a self-taught website designer,” she said. “I love all things tech.”
A year later, Fox saw the need for a movement to empower girls and women in the community — the genesis of You Go Girl.
“My motivation for this most recent pivot was to challenge myself,” she said. “When I left the corporate world, I was a different woman. I wasn’t as bold or sure of myself. Over the years I have learned so much and grown.
“Life is all about evolving,” she continued, “and I am at a phase of growing into a different role. This is a season that I am fully embracing. I am enjoying the pivot. It will stretch me and, in the process, help others.”
Yet another nod to stretching and growing, Fox is a “proud graduate” of the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
“I represent the non-traditional students, the ones that took a little while, took detours, paused to raise a family and work,” she said. “I pursued my degree while going through a divorce. I pursued my degree while pregnant. I pursued my degree while caring for a critically ill child. I pursued my degree while working full-time.
“Walking across the stage was so much more than getting a piece of paper. I put in so much work and I’m living proof that it can be done.”
In Spring 2022 Fox is set to graduate from Oral Roberts University with a master’s degree in organizational leadership with honors.
Throughout Fox’s career, she noted many challenges were largely the result of her not being confident in herself — who she was or was becoming.
“I’ve been severely underrepresented and underpaid. I’ve been misunderstood. I’ve faced workplace discrimination and bullying. I’ve been rejected and passed over for promotions. Each time I faced a challenge, I learned from it,” she said.
Notably, Fox learned how to stand up for herself, embrace who she was, and stop apologizing for “being.”
“I became more comfortable with being the only woman and, sometimes, the only Black woman in spaces that I’ve taken up,” she said. “I learned to value my voice and what I bring to the table. I learned to stop settling and to boldly go after what I wanted.”
Growing up, she said that it helped to believe in the “impossible.”
“In fact, I believed that I could do just about anything that I wanted to do,” she said. “I couldn’t hear the word ‘no.’ I didn’t believe that ‘it can’t be done.’ Of course, as I got older, I realized that there were indeed limitations and challenges; however, it has been my unrelenting faith that has enabled me to see success.”
Furthermore, she said she wasn’t mean to be “boxed in.”
“I am paving the way for other women to chart their own paths and do what it is that sets their souls on fire without offering a single apology,” Fox said. “Who cares if what I’m doing doesn’t exactly fit what someone expects? I’m doing exactly what I feel is serving the purpose I was placed on this earth for. That is what matters. Do I think I am a pioneer in that kind of thinking? Yes, I do.”
This may sound pretty inspirational, but Fox gets caught off-guard when others say she inspires them.
“I just live my life,” she said. “I’ve been through many things and I told myself a while ago that I will not allow those circumstances to yield zero fruit. The things I have gone through are not for me, they are for others. I can speak to a domestic violence survivor, or a single mother, or a parent of a sick child, and I can tell them that it is possible. I write to inspire.
I speak to inspire.”
Most importantly, she is aspirational.
“My life is far from perfect,” she said. “I have face planted many times, but I have also tasted sweet victory, and it is because I refuse to give up.”
From inspirational to aspirational, Fox dreams of one day walking into a space designed to support bold girls and women, the way that a greenhouse might cultivate thriving plants. She and a team would cultivate confidence.
She paints a picture with her words: “A place where a licensed therapist is active and accessible. A place to find support. A place that has a library and computer lab. A place where girls and women can gather. I see business incubator programs, leadership workshops, coding clubs, mentor meetups, art, music, and, most importantly, a sisterhood all in one place. That is my ultimate dream.”