Jessica Shortall believes that the world isn’t as polarized as we might think, so she spends her time looking for common ground among uncommon allies in order to make good happen. Her eclectic career has built unexpected bridges among unlikely partners, always sustainably, intelligently, and backed by data.
As Managing Director of Texas Competes, Jessica runs a coalition of more than 1,200 Texas employers and chambers of commerce making the data-driven case for Texas to be welcoming to LGBTQ people. This business-oriented voice has become a national model and is credited with changing the Texas political playing field on LGBTQ issues.
Jessica's first book, written out of sheer necessity, is a survival guide for breastfeeding and going back to work called Work. Pump. Repeat. As a follow-up to the book, her 2015 TEDx talk on the moral and economic case for paid family leave has garnered more than a million views.
Jessica’s own life is filled with uncommon ground. She is the daughter of Venezuelan and English immigrants. She served, and spent 9/11, in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan, a majority-Muslim, Central Asian country that was once part of the Soviet Union (as a result, she can swear in both Russian and Uzbek). She co-founded and franchised a food rescue and hunger relief non-profit, The Campus Kitchens Project, that puts young people in charge and is active in more than 50 U.S. cities. She was the first Director of Giving at TOMS Shoes, building out the company’s now-iconic One for One giving mission by focusing on global partnerships, neglected tropical diseases, and sustainable eye care.
Jessica has an MBA from the University of Oxford in the UK, where she was a Skoll Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship. She is married with two small children.
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