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#SPA80for80: Professor Jessica Waters

Professor Jessica Waters

Jessica Waters' enthusiasm for AU's School of Public Affairs runs deep. She is an alumna of SPA – later earning her J.D. from AU's Washington College of Law – and now serves as SPA's associate dean for undergraduate education. Faculty and students alike praise Waters' dedication to the school, her profession, and the community.

Waters has been the recipient of the American University and School of Public Affairs University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in a Term Appointment, in part for her leadership role in the school. 

She envisions a new model of 21st century education, and constantly seeks to improve the student experience. In addition to notable work in the classroom, Waters has been recognized for her outstanding coaching of the Mock Trial Team, collaborating with students in research projects, and active participation with students in professional activities.

"Her unwavering encouragement and support helped transform the Mock Trial Team from its early beginnings to its current status as a nationally ranked team," said Sarah McIntosh, SPA/BA ’13.

Outside the classroom, Waters has worked tirelessly as a guardian ad litem – a voice for children in the legal system, and as an advocate more broadly for those whose voices may not otherwise be heard. Prior to joining the AU faculty, Waters was a litigator at WilmerHale, where she was part of the team that drafted an amicus curiae brief against the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in the 2007 Supreme Court case Gonzales v Carhart. She also served as a federal law clerk for the Honorable Emmet Sullivan on the D.C. District Court.


"My years as an undergraduate in SPA changed the course of my life. I was exposed to people and opportunities that I don't think would have been possible at any other school.  And it was those connections that paved the way for my career as an attorney, and later my work in academia."