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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JESSICA AND FOX NEWS HEALTH'S DR. MANNY ON BREASTFEEDING, WORK, AND PAID LEAVE
recent press coverage
- SXSW keynote announcement: Rolling Stone, Billboard, Paste, February 2017
- Texas Monthly: The Power Behind the Throne, February 2017
- Texas Standard (NPR): on LGBT discrimination and economic impacts, 10/26/16 (13:30 mark)
- Coca-Cola, Want to Empower Women? Start With Parental Leave, 4/11/16
- KBAK Eyewitness News, California governor oks increased pay during family leave, 4/12/16
- Wake Forest Magazine, Profile, 3/11/16
- NPR, A Look at the Case for Paid Family Leave, 1/11/16
- ELLE, 11 Celeb superpowers to steal for 2016, 1/16
- TIME.com, 10 TED Talks That Will Help You Be a Better Parent (#2), 12/28/15
- Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Book Club: Our Picks from 2015
- APlus, 11 Photos Brilliantly Parody the Struggles of Moms Breastfeeding at Work, 9/10/15
- Bustle, Parody Stock Photos Of Breastfeeding At Work Tell The Frustrating Reality Of Working Motherhood, 9/9/15
- The Huffington Post, The Free Market Economics of LGBT Equality In Texas, 6/3/15
- The Week, The next big fight for gay rights will be won by big business, 5/27/15