Jessica, tell us a bit about your background.
I was raised in Wilkes-Barre. I’m a Meyers High School grad and attended the University of Scranton, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology.
I have a Pennsylvania state teaching certificate in Secondary English from King’s College, and have since earned several leadership development certificates. I spent most of my career working in communications, program management and education, and now serve as program and communications director for Leadership Wilkes-Barre.
I officially and gratefully joined the team as the program and communications director in June 2014. I currently run the Impact: Leadership in Education program (for classroom teachers), Junior Leadership and Intercollegiate Leadership. I am a sitting board member for the United Way of Wyoming Valley, Dress for Success of Luzerne County and a member of the Luzerne County Youth Aid Panel.
Tell us about the Junior Leadership program.
Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre is a personal and professional development program for high school juniors that develops leadership skills and encourages students to interact with community leaders, decision-makers and peers from other schools.
Interested students apply as sophomores and participate in a competitive selection process. We challenge these emerging leaders to apply their new knowledge and skills to design Community Impact Projects.
Finally, the program acquaints high school students with community needs, progress and resources that influence the future of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
How big are the classes?
Our class sizes are typically 65 to 70 students, representing more than 17 public and private high schools from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.
Why are projects like this important?
Although volunteer Project Advisors provide guidance, these projects are student-driven from beginning to end. The intention is to practice servant leadership — to empower our participants to effect positive change, to encourage them to both recognize and act on the reality that they have the potential and responsibility to contribute to their communities.
What do the participants learn?
This process is designed to be challenging. Participants must work through their differences of opinion, behavior, perspectives, background and logistical challenges, and find a common ground. They learn about organizational management, how to leverage resources, seek out support, fund-raise, promote their projects, work with local media, solicit funds, and above all, they learn how to bring people together, despite differences, in order to accomplish something extraordinary. At LWB, we believe this is the true definition of leadership.