Leadership Spotlight: Jessi Dillingham

September 7, 2017

Each month WISA will showcase individuals on the WISA Leadership Team to allow members to get to know the women in executive positions in both a personal and professional capacity.

This spotlight will focus on Jessi Dillingham, the Region III Representative. Jessi works full time as an Area Coordinator at Auburn University.

Who has been the most influential in the development of your career? Why?

Dr. Regina Hyatt, the first female Vice President for Student Affairs at Mississippi State University, has inspired me in many ways.  During my last semester in my master's program at Mississippi State, she taught one of my cohort's classes.  While being in upper-level administration, she had an incredible balance of being professional, relatable, and positive. 

When you wake up in the morning, and you're mentally preparing yourself for another day at work, what excites you the most?

Working with and for my 28 Resident Assistants and 2 Graduate Area Coordinators.

Generic answer? Maybe.

Honest answer? Absolutely.

What is your long-term career goal? At what point will you feel like you've "made it," so-to-speak?

Not necessarily a career goal, but one of my life's mottos is to "run after joy." While I do hope and plan to have a successful career, my main hope is that my life will be joyful and that I can help bring that joy to others.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to move into a position similar to yours?

I'm still early in my career, but to someone wanting to be an Area Coordinator, I would say that this type of position is not just a job. It's a way of life.  Being an AC is rewarding and challenging in many ways, and in order to maintain a balanced life in this position, it's important to have a support system removed from the world of residence life.

What are your thoughts on work/life balance? Is there such a thing? If so, how do you achieve it?

Work/life balance is a constant work in progress.  I'd say the ability to have work/life balance depends on the time of year, state of the department/office, and so many other factors.  Currently, we're in an intense time of student staff training, preparing for move-in, etc., which means that work-life balance isn't always possible. 

Typically, though, work-life balance means going to the gym, maintaining and creating friendships, playing the guitar and singing, painting, and traveling when possible.

How has your experience in your role been impacted by identifying as a woman?

Partially because I’m a woman, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with a number of sexual assault survivors and serve as an on-call Advocate on campus. In this capacity, I’m constantly amazed by the resilience of humans. Working with individuals who have gone through such a traumatic experience constantly makes me aware that there is so much beneath the surface. I keep this knowledge close and remind myself that everyone has their own story and work to be intentional in getting to know people individually.

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Jessi a bit better! If you have a question for Jessi regarding anything she mentioned above or her role on the WISA Leadership Team, please contact her directly at [email protected]

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