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Staff Spotlight: 20 Questions in 60 Seconds with Jessy Burton

By Megan Hoel April 18, 2016

20 Questions in 60 Seconds is our blog series in which we interview Communities In Schools staff members. This week's guest is Jessy Burton, Director of Culture and Connections at the Communities In Schools National office.

1. What three traits define you? 
Courage, Confidence, Gratitude.

2. What is your personal philosophy?  
It’s important to me to do work that matters and to finish what’s in front of me to the best of my ability. Or, as my dad says, “Finish Strong.”

3. What is one thing you cannot resist? (food/dessert/candy/etc.)
My mom’s green chili chicken enchiladas. 

4. Ten years ago, who did you think you would be now?  
I thought I might be a therapist – a licensed clinical social worker. Thankfully, life took me in an entirely different direction!

5. What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?  
A calendar…I have an impossible time remembering things (birthdays, appointments, travel plans) without a calendar.

6. What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your life thus far?  
Low self-esteem. Going around in life not believing I have value is the dampest existence I’ve known. Growing in knowledge of my own skills, abilities, and worth has been empowering, not to mention freeing.

7. Where is your favorite place to be? 
In my condo with my dog, just reading or watching TV or taking a nap. Having a place that’s all mine is so grounding.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?  
I really like weight lifting in the gym…I also really like enjoying a glass of wine with friends. So, clearly one kind of necessitates the other.

9.  What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?  
I was a school bus driver in college, which was a fun kind of weird.

10. What does true leadership mean to you? 
When I think about some of the great leaders I’ve known, I think of the qualities of trust, high expectations, and humility. True leadership creates space for people to take ownership of their work. Leaders who trust in their team’s abilities and passions create environments where new ideas and innovations can be tested, even if it means failing.

11. Which one would you want most – flying cars, robot housekeepers, or moon cities?  
Robot housekeepers…I spend an embarrassing amount of time vacuuming dog hair and I’d like all that time back.

12. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?  
Sometimes I daydream about being a personal trainer, so maybe that!

13. You’re hosting a dinner party. Who are the 3 people, living or dead, who you would invite and why?
My grandpa Ray – So he could make the hush puppies and fried catfish and we could play dominoes after dinner. My mom – because she brings so much life to a party. David Tennant – for obvious reasons.*

*David Tennant is indisputably the best version of The Doctor from the Doctor Who series. 

14. What would you serve? 
Fried catfish, hush puppies, fried okra, and a side of mac n’ cheese with my grandpa’s perfect pecan pie and a side of vanilla ice cream.

15. Do you have any pets? What kind? 
Yes. I have a dog named India, she’s almost 8 years old. She’s a street dog from India with the temperament of a cat and the energy of a dingo.

16. What advice do you have for kids who are struggling in school?  
Sometimes it can feel like you’re totally alone and you have no resources to cope. Take a deep breath – a really deep breath – and think about something that makes you feel good: A song or a friend or an activity like yoga or journaling. When you feel frustrated or worried or sad, do that activity or find that person or listen to that song. These are your resources.

17. What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13? 
Probably the same thing I’d say to any 13 year old: You have value and that value is inherent. It has nothing to do with how good you are or how much you can do at school or who your friends might be. You matter just because you exist.

18. What are your three most overused words/phrases? 
Knucklehead, innovation, empower.

19. How do you define success? 
Setting an ambitious goal, working as hard and smart as you can toward that goal, and whatever the outcome, learning from the process.

20. What is your favorite thing about working at Communities In Schools?
It’s too easy to say I know Communities In Schools does meaningful and effective work for students. It’s obvious and inspiring to walk into this office every day knowing the impact of the work. My favorite thing about working at Communities In Schools is the people who do the work – those I’ve met in the field and those I’m honored to work with at the national office every day.

Have more questions for Jessy? Comment them below and she'll answer.