Name: Jessica Bennett
Department: Office of Research, Innovation, and STEM Policy
Title: Assistant Director, STEM Education
Date you joined APLU: February 19, 2019
What was your first real job? I worked as the office manager, and eventual event planner, at a music booking agency. We booked bands for weddings, private parties, and corporate events. It was fun to talk about music every day, but I learned sales-oriented jobs are not for me.
What education or work experience had the greatest impact on you? My several years working within the federal government prior to coming to APLU exposed me to new challenges and a new organizational culture, provided opportunities for growth in areas like project management and data science, and cemented my passion for working in higher education because I missed it so much.
What current APLU project or initiative are you most excited about? My current project, the NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance’s IChange Network. It’s thrilling to be working with APLU members to focus on changing their practices, policies, and cultures to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive STEM faculty. I love helping leaders think about creating change and tackling seemingly intractable problems.
What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve found about APLU? While it’s not entirely unexpected, it’s been rewarding to see the depth of passion APLU staff have for working with public research universities and helping them achieve their goals of service in the interest of the public good. It is so motivating to be surrounded by colleagues who share my commitments and are invested in helping higher education achieve its ideals.
What is your favorite thing about living in DC? I love the rich history of DC, and its diverse and changing neighborhoods. I try to stay engaged in the community through service in a local organization focused on educating and empowering DC citizens.
Where is the best place you’ve traveled and why does it stand out? Lithuania. I am a quarter Lithuanian, and traveled there a few years ago with my mom and brother. We got to meet our extended family, including seeing the tiny village where my great-grandfather grew up. It was my first time traveling somewhere that felt intimately connected to my personal history – despite having visited most of the countries my ancestors emigrated from.
What’s the last book you read? “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily and Amelia Nagoski