After eight years as a prosecutor and 17 years in commercial litigation, Jessica Kennedy is comfortable in a courtroom. But today, she has put her interest in advocacy for equality to work on campus as Title IX coordinator for Washington University. Kennedy seeks to make Wash U a safe and respectful educational environment by overseeing the university’s efforts to comply with Title IX rules, and overseeing investigations of sexual discrimination and assault.
What are your proudest career accomplishments?
My year as a VISTA volunteer at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, passing the Bar, being a prosecutor for eight years, my presidency of the Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater St. Louis, and creating the Title IX coordinator role at Wash U.
What inspired you to get involved in the public service or justice system?
My parents have always encouraged us to give back and serve others. We were (and are) expected to volunteer, adopt families at the holidays, teach, donate, etc. Knowing that my work helps others and, in some small way, makes the world a better place is a powerful incentive. Being surrounded by others who feel the same drive inspires me.
What is something that would surprise people about you?
I have a deep and abiding love for the music of Rick Springfield, the Star Wars franchise and my mom’s cheesecake.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Many students I meet are dealing with incredibly difficult experiences. By supporting them, connecting them to resources and treating them with compassion and fairness, I’m part of getting them back on the road to a successful college career. The moments when I recognize that happening are the best.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
When I was 13, apparently I told my parents that I wanted to be a maid. Given the state of my room at the time, they found this hilarious. I still haven’t given up my dream of being a SportsCenter anchor.