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Alumni Profile

Alumna Leads Communications for White House Historical Association

By Traci Crockett

Jessica Fredericks headshot

photo courtesy of Jessica Fredericks

Jessica Fredericks, SOC/MA '14, fills her free time with history. That, she says, makes her job as director of communications for the White House Historical Association a perfect fit. "I have a front row seat and direct access to our historians, who are very interesting," she says. "They know so much about the house itself and the contents inside."

At the WHHA, Jessica enjoys connecting others to the history of America's home. And, she says, there's no shortage of ways to do so. "Every day is different," she says. "One day we are booking guests for podcasts and telling people about the official White House Christmas ornament. The next day we might be promoting other retail or our education department…I love working with so many people who are so passionate about history."

Jessica says she's always had a passion for history, particularly the Civil War, and she recently discovered her own connection to it. Her grandmother's family included a Civil War cavalryman. On a trip with her mother to Kentucky, Jessica says the stories she heard felt very real. "Even after all the time that has passed, people don't move. It's like living history, and it makes it more real when you have a connection to the history," she says.

Before she was able to combine her career with her love of history, Jessica worked as a journalist, most recently for AU's NPR affiliate, WAMU. "I wanted to shift my focus, to manage strategic communications, pitch stories and work with clients on projects that interested me—all while using the skills that made me a successful journalist," she says.  

Jessica made important connections as a graduate student, which she says was instrumental in shifting her career in the way she wanted. "Many of the professors bring their own real-world experience to the classroom. They have served as references for me," she says. Those connections led to freelance public relations work and later full-time opportunities with The Washington Ballet and others entities. "It's been phenomenal," says Jessica.

And, these days, it's not just Jessica's free time that's filled with history. She gets to work every day fueling her passion.