Jessica Simmons (AB ‘10) is the Deputy Chief Information Officer for Broadband and Special Projects at the Georgia Technology Authority where she oversees the state’s strategy for broadband deployment in Georgia. This month, Jessica joins the SPIA Alumni Board, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in the public sector as well as a sincere motivation to help students connect with their passions- both while they attend UGA and afterwards.
Jessica developed a deep affinity for the University of Georgia and knew she wanted to attend from a young age. “I have always loved UGA. My mom went to Georgia, and I grew up going to all of the football games. I actually had a seat in Sanford before I was born.”
While attending UGA, Jessica decided to focus on political science which was a continuation of an early interest of hers. “I have been volunteering on political campaigns since I was 15. I learned that I loved government and politics at an early age and knew that I wanted to go down that path professionally.” She also took advantage of opportunities to get involved and learn. She joined an on-campus political organization, volunteered on campaigns over summer breaks and throughout the school year, and secured various internships. “Enjoy your time at Georgia,” she advises students, “It’s over before you know it. Everyone should be focused on their next steps, but not so much that they don’t enjoy their time in college.”
Her ability to get involved early and build her network was vital to launching her career. For recent graduates, Jessica says to keep at it, but rely on your network. Look to those professional contacts you have made and “lean on the people that really want to help.” Students looking to find a mentor and alumni committed to becoming a mentor, join the UGA Mentor Program.
Jessica has held various leadership positions over the years in state government, serving as Chief of Staff in the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Revenue, and in her current role at the Georgia Technology Authority. She also previously worked for a Political Action Committee (PAC) in Washington, D.C. where she was responsible for fundraising and highlighting secretaries of state from across the country.
Like so many alumni, Jessica remembers many of her favorite memories at UGA, like her study abroad experience in Verona, Italy and hopes to cultivate those experiences for current SPIA students. Jessica is looking to help support initiatives like this one through the Study Abroad Scholarship Fund during her time on the board.
She is also looking forward to getting more alumni engaged. “We have a great opportunity to increase alumni engagement, especially with everything in the past few years of the pandemic; everyone is really excited to come back to in-person meetings.” Jessica hopes to increase the social aspect that we have all missed in the past two years. See the upcoming SPIA events for the 2022 – 2023 academic year to get more involved and stay up-to-date on all SPIA events happening next year.
“I made so many lifelong friends and colleagues within UGA and SPIA,” Jessica says. “SPIA has done a great deal for me, and I am excited to have the opportunity to give back.”