“If you are independent, you will never be afraid to be alone or to leave a job.”
Brenda’s portrait in the Fearless Portrait project consists of an ink drawing of her, on a map of Guatemala. Her hometown of Salama, Baja Verapaz, is visible on her neck.
The day after New Year’s, 2021, Brenda Landau went out for a long run.
It’s just her. Feet pounding the pavement. The miles ticking by with buzzes on her running watch. It’s the day after New Year’s Day, 2021. Running a half marathon wasn’t some kind of New Year’s resolution. It was just what Brenda Landau did to relax. This was at least the fourth half marathon she’d run alone during the COVID-19 lockdowns since the previous March.
While her feet moved in a steady rhythm, she reflected on where she was in her life so far: happily married with two daughters, enjoying professional success as a finance executive and a head full of fun dreams for the future.
Born into a large family in the mountainous heart of Guatemala, she was the fifth of nine children. Her mother had a second-grade education and did not encourage education among her children. Not liking the future she saw for herself in her small hometown, she changed her story.
“As a middle child, I was always independent and never afraid to try new things,” says Brenda. “From climbing trees as a child and jumping off to taking a job as a teen managing a magazine in my hometown and turning around its struggling sales.”
She moved to the United States, learned English, put herself through college by working 60 hours a week and graduated with top academic honors. The first in her family to earn a college degree, she ultimately earned an MBA as well.
Professionally, she thrived as well, building a successful career in accounting and finance and enjoys mentoring other women. “I always say, ‘do something that makes you independent—in your thinking, in your finances, in every way. If you’re independent, you’ll never be afraid to be alone or to leave a job,’” she says.
In 2020, NJBIZ named her to their “Best 50 Women in Business” list.
When not running a company’s finances or playing with her children, Brenda is passionate about fitness, and ran the New York City Marathon in 2017.
She lives in central New Jersey with the host of this show and their two children.
This episode contains music by Geovane Bruno, and Brenda's brothers playing marimba in Salama.