I have had the pleasure of working with Jessica this past year in her role as an alumni mentor to our AmeriCorps VISTA program. We have recently been going under changes across the program, including our mentorship. We wished to more intentionally engage all our alumni, but struggled with ways to do so.
Jessica helped us develop a new program strategy around alumni engagement based on her experiences as a mentor, past experiences as a VISTA, and our program focus around social justice. Throughout our work with her, Jessica guided us by asking questions, providing insight from her experiences, and pointing us to resources to help us.
Jessica has a unique ability to guide ideation. She was able to give us space to ideate, gently challenged us when needed, and listened. She has also been a tremendous mentor for our VISTAs, often going far beyond our expectations. Jessica is guided by a desire to make our community more kind and more equitable, and this shines in every aspect of her work.
Since 2011, the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of MN has sponsored an AmeriCorps VISTA program. In 2016, we wrapped up the Phillips Sectoral Employement Initiative VISTA Program (PSEI) and launched C3 Twin Cities. Over the years, alumni engagement has become an important aspect of our work— while our commitment to staying engaged with alumni remains solid, our goals and strategies have shifted from year to year. With the development of C3 Twin Cities, we felt that revisiting our alumni engagement strategy was vital.
We approached Jess to help us think through some key questions: are we being effective through our current strategy? Are there areas for improvement? How can we make this a more meaningful experience for both alumni and current members?
Jess was a great partner to work with for a number of reasons–the most obvious being she herself is a PSEI alumna. But, more importantly Jess has a way of reflecting back information like a mirror. She facilitates the emergence of your own ideas and knowledge, and presents it in a way that is easily digested and understood. She is great at following up on her tasks in a timely manner and often goes above and beyond the service that you might be looking for. Her approach is asset based and she brings a certain level of empathy to her work which allows you as a client to consider multiple perspectives in your planning work.