Director of Public Policy, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
Hometown: Leawood, Kansas
BA in Economics and Public Policy Leadership (2014)
MA in Journalism – Integrated Marketing Communications track (2016)
Since joining the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in 2017, John Jenks has been a public policy intern, then Public Policy Specialist, and now Director of Public Policy. In his role, he advocates and monitors legislation in Kansas and Missouri as well as the federal level, and drafts policy agendas. He co-developed The Greater KC Report dashboard to provide data on the local economy and quality of life. He has led a number of committees, and launched major workforce initiatives, including one for formerly incarcerated men and women.
When and why did you decide to study public policy leadership?
I decided to study public policy leadership immediately when I saw the program was available while exploring the idea of going to Ole Miss. I have always loved politics and policy so it seemed like a natural fit for me. It also allowed me to be in the Honors College and double major.
Please discuss highlights of your undergraduate experience.
Where do I begin? Being the treasurer and playing for the Ole Miss Club Ice Hockey team was an incredible experience. I not only made lifelong friends and continued to play the sport I love, but I also got to travel all across the south to new places and towns. As the treasurer as well, I was responsible for fundraising so I got to meet people all across the state.
Another highlight of my undergraduate is of course the sporting events like the Grove, the Tad Pad and Swayze Field. The times with friends and classmates at those events is so special—and goes way too fast!
Lastly, though, my highlight of my undergrad career and my time in Mississippi was getting the fortunate opportunity to experience Mississippi and meet the great people all across the state. Coming from Kansas, I really didn’t know what to expect other than I was going South. But what I experienced was a state rich in culture and history and people that were incredibly hospitable and caring. The summer I spent teaching in Greenville is a summer that I truly cherished and was thrilled to be able to give back to the state. I am very fortunate that I was able to submerge myself in “Mississippi” and look forward to returning at some point
Please talk about your path since graduation and career goals at this point.
After graduation, I stayed at Ole Miss and received my Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. After my Master’s program, I was afforded the opportunity to return to Kansas City and join the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. I have since become Director of Public Policy and Government Relations at the KC Chamber and oversee our Kansas and Missouri State Affairs Advocacy as well as our workforce opportunities for returning citizens’ initiative that looks at reemploying and reintegrating people leaving our prisons.
We are also looking at some common-sense criminal justice reform issues that would help people make the transition to society easier and make it easier for returning citizens to find long-term, stable, and well-paying employment. I have a few goals, but one is to restore some sense of civility in political discourse in our country and another is to really fight for policies that help people-especially those in society that are forgotten and do not have a voice.