Spitfire Strategies

Spitfire Spotlight: Jen Thom

Get to know one of our newest directors, Jen Thom!

How are you sparking change as a Spitfire these days?

Right now I am working with a few different clients on training and strategic planning to set them up for big wins in the coming year. Our team is working with a national organization focused on increasing funding so that more students have access to free, high-quality education. We are also partnering with a new network of organizations that are protecting and preserving the health of a river and the homes of the wildlife and people that rely on it.

A few of my clients need tools to make compelling asks. This means our team is training them on how to develop messages that connect with and motivate the people who can make a difference in their work. As you can imagine, right now that involves a lot of outreach to policymakers and representatives. Other clients need a path to reach longer-term goals. So we are doing a deep dive into the great assets they already have and determining the best way to align their efforts and what additional tools would really set them up for success.

What made you want to be a Spitfire?

I was excited to join a team that believes in the power of communication to do incredible things. I love the focus that Spitfire brings to audience targeting and applying the science and research that are advancing our field. Some of my favorite meetings are when you connect with program teams or practice area experts and have that a-ha moment when messages click and they can truly see the value of communication in their work. It takes a mix of discipline, creativity and thoughtful advising to get everyone there.

Now that I’m here, it’s the team. Every day I work with passionate clients, and the smart, savvy Spitfire team members who push themselves and each other to consistently improve and make the work better and better.

Where were you before Spitfire?

I am joining most recently from the San Francisco Foundation, a foundation focused on serving the Bay Area community. In the Bay Area we are in a funny position where we are a unique region and yet we face the same issues as so many other areas across the country, at what feels like warp speed: affordability, changing demands on our workforce, racial tension and divides. While I was at the foundation we pivoted from being primarily a grantmaker to serving as a convener and an engaged party at the table bringing government, community leaders and organizations, and philanthropy together to address these problems. The foundation specifically looked at what we could do to eliminate the predictive elements of race, geography and income on a person’s ability to live a meaningful, fulfilled life. It was a really formative experience for me and I’m grateful to have met and worked with so many passionate advocates and activists who helped expand my understanding and analysis.

What are you most excited about for spring in San Francisco?

Hopefully some sunshine?! Admittedly, we really don’t know how to handle weather here. I’m looking forward to having more daylight to spend out and about enjoying the city and getting back into running through Golden Gate Park.

“This is a truly transformative program and there is no question that it is preparing leaders to be courageous communicators.”

- Colleen Bailey, Executive Director, The National Steinbeck Center

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