Senior Vice President
Along with more than a decade of experience in strategic communication, nonprofit advocacy, politics and public affairs, Jenny Kern brings a contagious enthusiasm to her work at Spitfire. She is an expert in issues ranging from education to the environment to public health and criminal justice reform and has a knack for turning complex information into concise and compelling messages.
Relationship building is at the center of everything Jenny does. Whether she’s providing strategic counsel to a client, working closely with the media to help shape a story or facilitating a coalition, Jenny takes the time to understand the individual needs of those she’s working with and responds carefully. She brings this philosophy to her work with clients, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, New Teacher Center, Create CA and California Education Partners.
Jenny leads Spitfire’s team that provides strategic communication support to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grantees across the country that are working to protect and advance important education reforms. In California, Jenny works with grantees such as the CORE Districts to develop stories that bring to life the impact of its work and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) to improve its communication planning around report releases. Jenny also leads Spitfire’s ongoing communications coaching of the Foundation’s five Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers that bring together diverse schools of thought to improve the field of teacher preparation and ensure we are quickly moving toward a reality where all students have the support they need to succeed.
Working with New Teacher Center, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities and California State University, Jenny led the effort to launch the inaugural Better Together: California Teachers Summit in 2015. With Spitfire’s communication and outreach support, this first-of-its kind day of learning led by teachers, for teachers drew more than 10,000 teachers across the state in its first year. In 2016 and 2017, organizers brought Spitfire back to support the second and third annual Summits, which expanded to more sites and engaged a growing and diverse coalition of partners. The team is again working with organizers to make the fourth annual Summit even better.
Prior to joining Spitfire, Jenny was a senior strategist at PR & Company, where she led the firm’s education practice and directed major accounts, such as Early Edge California, the Partnership for Children and Youth and the California PTA. Jenny developed strategies that secured coverage integral to preserving transitional kindergarten for more than 125,000 four-year-old students in California. In 2012, she facilitated dozens of communication trainings for parents across the state to help put education on the electoral map.
Jenny cut her teeth at the Drug Policy Alliance, serving as the organization’s lead spokesperson on youth policy issues, including drug education and prevention, juvenile justice, school discipline and child welfare. Jenny is not only skilled in developing policies and messaging behind the scenes – while there, she was featured in a wide range of national media, including CNN, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Newsweek.
A San Francisco native, Jenny graduated from St. Ignatius College Prep and earned her Bachelor of Arts in rhetoric and sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, which she credits as having equipped her with the skills she now uses to step outside her comfort zone and challenge the conventional way of thinking.