Jessica Hill

Jessica Hill

March 29, 2022

Jessica Hill (2022)

Jessica Hill is the Executive Director of the Safe House for Women, a non-profit domestic violence services agency located in Cape Girardeau, MO. She graduated magna cum laude from Truman. in 1999 with a degree in Communication and a minor in Public Administration. She also received her Master’s degree in Non-Profit Management from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK in 2003.  Jessica began her career in the Oral Roberts University Office of Public Relations. She has also worked as a Resource Specialist for the Community Service Council in Tulsa and a Volunteer Program Administrator for the City of Tulsa. Prior to being named to her current position, she served as Development Director of the Safe House, and originally served as a member of their Board of Directors. Jessica lives in Cape Girardeau with her husband Jason, who is Senior Pastor of Cape Church of the Nazarene.  They have two children, Jacob and Caitlin.

What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?

I graduated in 1999, and my concentration was Communication Science.

What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?

I did a bit.  I was the student representative to the Truman Board of Governors, I completed the Missouri Government Internship Program, I was a Student Senator, a member of Omicron Delta Kappa (chapter President), a Student Ambassador, and I was a Missouri Hall Student Advisor.

Jessica (center) at her Oath of Office ceremony, joining the Truman Board of Governors (1998).

Did you go to grad school? If so, where?  Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait?  Why?

Yes, I earned a Master of Management in Non-Profit Management from Oral Roberts University (ORU) in 2003.  I graduated from Truman in December ’99 and started my master’s in August ’00 so essentially, I went immediately.  I knew I wanted to pursue a career in non-profits, so I went straight to grad school to learn more about the field.

What was your first job after graduation?

I was the Assistant Director of Public Relations at ORU for three years while I was in grad school.

What work do you do/What are you doing now?

I am the Executive Director of the Safe House of Southeast Missouri, an agency that serves victims of domestic violence in Cape Girardeau.  I’ve been in this position for 7 years.

Jessica (center w/ scissors) cutting the ribbon for the opening of Safe House’s new shelter (2019).

How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?

I use the knowledge I gained as a Communication major at Truman every day.  I have worked in higher ed, municipal government, and nonprofit settings, and my communication skills have always been applicable and highly sought after.  No matter what sector I’ve worked in, my ability to handle public relations, media relations, community outreach, fundraising, grant-writing, etc. have always been valued.

Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?

Communication:  I remember taking Public Relations and thinking, “I’m never going to use this,” and then I wound up getting a PR job straight out of school.

Other: My all-time least favorite class was Introduction to Linguistics.  I thought it would be really interesting, but I wanted it to be a prescriptive approach of “correct” language and grammar and Dr. Shapiro was adamant that it was simply an observational approach.

What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?

Serving on the Board of Governors and interning in Governor Carnahan’s office will always be significant accomplishments to me, not only as part of my Truman experience, but in my life as a whole.

Jessica (left) with Governor Carnahan and another intern at his inaugural ball (1997).

Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?

Everyone should go to Truman!  The liberal arts curriculum, focus on whole-person education, and encouragement toward lifelong learning have stayed with me long after graduation.  The campus is beautiful, the community is charming, the professors are top-notch, and studying alongside high-caliber students really does impact your education.  Plus, grad school will be a breeze after Truman, and that’s not an overstatement!  Oh, also, I met my husband at Truman!

What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?

Get involved with the Communication organizations, make time for an internship, and pursue the opportunities in the communication offices at Truman – public relations, alumni relations, admissions, etc.  Those experiences helped me to break into the field following graduation, and today when I’m hiring new graduates, I look closely at their student work experience and extracurricular activities. Lastly, learn some basic graphic design skills.

Jessica (1st row, 2nd fr right) hanging out with friends during the holidays (1999).

What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?

Every job I’ve had since my first entry-level position came through networks and connections, so get out there and meet people doing the work you’re interested in.  For non-profit work specifically, I do recommend a Master’s degree in Public Administration or Non-Profit Management.  This is a unique sector, and there is much to learn that differs from private-sector business or government entities.

What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?

I still have family that lives in Kirksville and I’ve been a member of both the Alumni Board and the Foundation Board, so I’ve been back to campus often over the years!  The quad in the fall is my absolute favorite.

What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?

“Communicators always.  Bulldogs forever.”

If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?

Transformational Communication – This class would be about using communication to lead organizational change.

What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?

There are three professional skills that everyone should develop:  how to speak publicly, how to run a meeting, and how to facilitate a discussion.  Take the opportunity while you’re at Truman to hone these skills!

Jessica, her husband Jason, and their children Jacob and Caitlin (2021).

If you would like to learn more of Jessica’s story, you can follow her on Facebook and LinkedIn.


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