You're the PR and communications coordinator at St. Francis. How has that job changed as they've expanded over the last few years?
My job has become much more multi-faceted. When I started in this position, my primary focus was on media relations and writing for publications. As St. Francis has grown, our department and my position have evolved. Not only do I work with the media to promote the latest and greatest at the hospital, but I also get to work with our senior leaders on community presentations; meet with physicians to help better promote the services they provide; and work with virtually every hospital department to make sure they have the tools they need to provide patient education. The diversity in my job is what excites me; I am always on the go. It's not unusual for me to organize a physician interview, finalize a presentation with our CEO and attend a health fair in the same day.
You're also very involved in Junior League. How did you become involved in that and what function does it have in the community?
After I finished my master's degree, I had time to give and decided to get involved in the community. I joined the League in 2010 and began writing for our member newsletter, so I got a unique view of the inner workings early on. I quickly learned what a generous and giving group of women I was a part of. Through our signature issue, "The Healthy Child," we have six areas of focus: protection, nutrition, education, mentoring, advocacy and health care. Each of us is able to plug in and give back in a way that is most aligned with what we are most passionate about.
Never miss a local story.
Explain the challenges Junior League has experienced since you've been involved.
Like many other organizations that have been around for a while, we have been challenged with bringing the League into the 21st century. Things today are a lot different than they were when the Junior League of Columbus was founded in 1936. My first Active year, I was editor of League Life, our member newsletter. I was tasked with converting it from a monthly, black and white newsletter to a full-color magazine that was also used for PR. Talk about pressure! Our membership is also much different than it was back then. A lot of us work full-time jobs, have a family, serve on community boards and are active in the League. There are only so many hours in the day! Through The Healthy Child, we are able to ensure that our members' time spent volunteering is most rewarding to them.
What's your household like with a husband that's a young lawyer, you have a busy job and a 10-year-old step-daughter?
One of us always has homework. We make it a point to eat dinner together and spend time as a family. Since we are so busy, we are intentional about disconnecting and not checking our emails or texts when we eat. Martin and I are both very supportive of each other and the careers that we have chosen. And we make sure to communicate our needs up front so that one of us can fill in when the other is on a deadline.
What is the best-kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?
I know that I have already spoken to it, but I honestly think that it is the Junior League of Columbus. But it's not just about what members get out of it. The League is very hands-on in the community. We give away thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to deserving high school students through our Teens Who Care scholarships; provide means to agencies and organizations who have short-term emergency needs through our Enabling Fund; conduct hundreds of vision screenings at local pre-schools each year; teach children to make healthy food and nutrition choices through Kids in the Kitchen; and help make prom dreams come true for hundreds of junior and senior high school students by giving away free prom dresses at Project Prom. I am in awe of our members who give so selflessly of their time, talents and resources.
Name: Jessica Drake
Job: PR & Communications Coordinator at St. Francis Hospital
Hometown: Phenix City
Current home: Columbus
Family: Husband, Martin; stepdaughter, Carly; Boston Terrier, Waylon
Education: Central High School, 2002; Columbus State University, Bachelor of Arts in Communication, 2007; Columbus State University, Master of Public Administration, 2010
Favorite book: I love to read! I prefer a series because I get so attached to the characters. I mourn them for days (or weeks!) when I am finished. I could never pick a favorite!
Favorite movie: "Pride and Prejudice"
Favorite restaurant: Caffe Amici
Favorite quote: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11