Jessica Legnos Kearney
Director, Public Policy Initiatives, The Travelers Institute
Jessica Legnos Kearney is a 2012 graduate of the University of Connecticut’s Master of Public Administration program. She currently serves as Director of Public Policy Initiatives for the Travelers Institute; the public policy arm of the Travelers Companies, Inc. Legnos Kearney entered the MPA program in 2010 after nearly five years in New York City working for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); a nonpartisan foreign policy think tank, membership organization, and publisher. She held several positions there including special assistant to the president and assistant director for foundation relations. Before joining CFR, she held several internships as an undergraduate student at Northeastern University. Among these roles, she worked at Harvard University’s Women and Public Policy Program and served as an editorial assistant and freelance writer for the Boston Globe.
Describing her decision to go back to school, Legnos Kearney said, “I had some great professional experience, but knew that I needed to strengthen my quantitative and analytic skill sets to perform at a higher level.” She chose UConn’s MPA program for its faculty, program size, and overall value. The skills she learned in the program enabled her to more easily interpret professional academic literature that she uses in her career today. In addition, the program has allowed her to take a smarter approach to problem solving.
Legnos Kearney was able to gain additional public service experience through her graduate assistantship in UConn’s Office of the Chief Operating Officer where she helped coordinate a university-wide procurement effort that found millions of dollars in savings for the state. She also had the opportunity to join about 20 of her classmates on a service trip to New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward—an experience she said she will never forget.
In her current position, Jessica engages in the public policy debate from the private sector. Looking back, she encourages current and prospective MPA students to take advantage of the program Capstone project, where second-year MPA students work in teams to design and implement a research project for a local organization. She called Capstone “an invaluable experience” in real world research design, project management, and data analysis and emphasized its marketability on the post-graduate job market.