From Dallas to the LBJ School: Jordan Jessie's mission to public policy advocacy

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February 20, 2024
Jordan Jessie, LBJ School student and one of three student chairs for the Barbara Jordan National Forum

Jordan Jessie, an MPAff candidate from Dallas, Texas, is driven to public service to advocate against injustice and uplift underrepresented communities. This passion led Jordan to the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin as the best place to develop the skills to pursue her goals. One of three student chairs for the 28th annual Barbara Jordan National Forum, she aspires to implement policies that reduce disparities, focusing on health and education.


Jordan Jessie, MPAff

Policy interests: Social Policy, Racial Disparities

“I was in middle school when the Black Lives Matter movement was forming. I remember watching the protests and counter-protesting in Ferguson, Missouri, and the uproar across the country when Trayvon Martin’s murderer was acquitted. I remember becoming emotional with every video I saw of young Black men and women being senselessly gunned down because I could see myself, my little brothers, and my future children in each of their faces. It was that knowledge that we’d never be safe that drove me toward the public affairs field and the pursuit of the power to do something about the injustices I’d seen.” 

“I was drawn to pursue a degree in public policy by my core belief that policy is the key to addressing racial injustice in the U.S. After visiting the LBJ School and meeting the amazing student leaders, staff, and faculty, I knew that this was the best place for me to develop the skills needed to pursue my goals." 

Please share your academic and professional journey. 

“I grew up in the suburbs of south Dallas and attended Howard University in 2019 for my first year of my undergraduate education. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, I decided to move closer to home and transferred to The University of Texas at Austin. I graduated from UT Austin in May 2023 with my Bachelor of Arts in Government with special honors, a minor in African and African Diaspora Studies, and a certificate in Public Policy. I earned my honors by completing an undergraduate thesis evaluating the causes of public opposition to federal reparations in the United States. I am now a Master of Public Affairs candidate at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. 

Jordan Jessie, LBJ School student and one of three student chairs for the Barbara Jordan National Forum discussing why the forum is important to her.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing US or global policy today? 

I feel a lack of hope amongst the younger generation is the biggest challenge facing the US today. Many Gen-Z and Millennial Americans are overworked and underpaid, struggling to keep their heads above water. We’ve grown up on promises that education is the key to success, but the state of student loan debt, job markets, and housing markets beg to differ. Not to mention that many feel that politicians at the state and federal level are not truly working towards their interests. This is a sentiment that has been echoed at several points in American history, but in this time of severe political polarization and low civic engagement, we must act to remedy this. Public servants must utilize transparent communication and signaling to bridge this massive gap between themselves and their constituents. 

What goals do you hope to achieve in your career? 

My long-term career goal is to help create and implement policies that reduce disparities in health, education, and overall life outcomes for marginalized groups in Texas and beyond. 

Are there any mentors, role models, or leaders in the public affairs field who inspire you? 

As the daughter of a nurse who’s always been engaged in community service, I’m most inspired by community organizers in the public affairs field like Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students who founded the March for Our Lives organization. Advocacy groups and community organizers engage in extremely hard and emotionally-taxing work, often for no recognition and while balancing their actual jobs as well. To me, these are some of the most inspiring and fundamental people in the public affairs field because they are working to change hearts and minds. 

The 28th annual Barbara Jordan National Forum will hold student-led events throughout the month of February. The Forum will be highlighted by a keynote address from educator and public servant, Dr. Ruth Simmons on Wednesday, February 21 at 12:15 p.m. in the Bass Lecture Hall of the LBJ School. Additional details and registration are available on the BJNF event page. (Please note that the location has been updated to Bass Lecture Hall within the LBJ School)


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