Jessica McMullen has a penchant for helping agencies run more smoothly.
A Colorado native — she’s lived in several places around the state before settling in Colorado Springs — she’s worked for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC, for El Paso County and currently she is the policy and communications manager for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.
Recently, the 33-year-old took the time to talk about her love of Colorado, her new position and her goals for the new year.
How did you get to Colorado Springs?
I grew up in Larkspur, but I’ve lived all over — Palmer Lake, Boulder, Estes Park. I’ve been in the Springs about 14 years. I went to UCCS and have a degree in communications. I’m nearly finished with a master’s degree in public administration.
And you started off working for the chamber?
I worked at the Chamber for about five-and-a-half years, in their government affairs office. I dealt with legislation all those years — tracking it, helping explain the chamber’s stance on bills. It all relates back to basic communications — but I was lucky to have that experience. It really allowed me to stretch my wings and learn what I can do.
After that, I worked as the executive assistant to the county administrator, the chairman of the El Paso County Commissioners and the vice chairman. There, I learned about the region, and I learned that everyone here really wants to help move the community forward. I have not met a single executive-level person who hasn’t gone out of their way to help. We live in a very, very giving community.
What are your goals at PPACG?
I want to better communicate all we do here. We’re known for our work in transportation — but we do so much more than that. We’re responsible for air and water quality; we’re just gearing up for a major area of concern for us: aging.
And we’re involved in so many other things as well, those are just a few. My goal is for the community to know us better — and to find ways to connect with us.
What’s your strategy for that?
I’m working on building relationships with all the member governments; we’re making sure that we’re working with all the local nonprofits who contribute to the Pikes Peak region. We’re figuring out how to be better communicators with the community. One thing I’m focused on is boosting our social media. My personal goal is 1,000 likes on Facebook, so people know what we’re doing day-to-day. WE want to be as transparent as possible.
The PPACG has had some controversy in recent weeks. Has that affected your job?
[The PPACG board voted in December to place the executive director and two senior leaders on paid administrative leave. Rob MacDonald’s contract is up this month, and there are indications it won’t be renewed, according to the Colorado Springs Independent.]
Yes, the board has taken action to put some senior people on administrative leave. That is going to work itself out — something that is mostly just about personality conflicts. Instead of focusing on the negative, we’re looking at the awesome things the community is doing with PPACG and focusing on that right now.
Do you have advice for other young professionals?
Ask around you, find people you like, join groups like the Colorado Springs Rising Professionals. If you find people who live here and want to stay here — those are the people you should connect with. I’m involved with the Rising Professionals and I’m also very active with the UCCS alumni networks. It’s important to get out there and get involved.
What do you do for fun?
My husband and I are involved in old world crafts and hobbies. I do calligraphy, for instance.
What do you like best about your job?
I love that it’s different everyday. I love that it’s a challenge. I love the overarching belief that what we do everyday is important; that my input will make a difference. It’s fascinating and wonderful to see all these governments working together.
Name something that would surprise people to know about you?
I make cosplay weapons with my husband. We’re very much a geeky couple — we love playing games like D&D (Dungeons & Dragons).
We’ve been married 11 years and have a 10-year-old daughter. We have family locally, but we also have family all over the world. I have four older brothers, one lives in Japan, one in North Carolina and two live in Colorado.