Jessica N. Grounds
Co-Founder of Running Start, Co-Founder of Project Mine the Gap
Jessica N. Grounds has devoted her life to empowering women to become leaders in public life. She has founded and led multiple organizations advancing women in leadership. Jessica is the co-creator of Project Mine the Gap, a company educating and advising companies, organizations, and governments about the bottom line impact of gender inclusive workforces. She is also the founder of Solid Grounds Strategy, LLC, which she started to bring gender advising to the political sector. Jessica routinely lectures globally about the barriers to women’s leadership and critical importance of advancing women. In 2016 Marie Claire magazine included her on their annual list of movers, shakers and rule-breakers. The New Guard: America’s 50 Most Influential Women.
Leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Jessica served as the Director of Women Ready for Hillary, the grassroots organization that built early support for Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president. Before Ready for Hillary she was the Executive Director of Running Start, an organization that she co-founded which inspires girls and young women to run for elected office. She currently serves as Running Start’s Co-Chair Emeritus of the Board of Directors.
Jessica’s background spans work within various sectors. She was previously the President of Women Under Forty Political Action Committee (WUFPAC) and currently serves on the Board of Directors. From 2004 – 2009, she worked for Stones’ Phones, a campaign strategy firm. As the Senior Vice President, she consulted hundreds of candidates and organizations throughout the country. She has worked on the ground and advised female candidates including many of the youngest female Members of Congress. Jessica was the Training Lead for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign for the Iowa Caucuses.
Jessica has lectured on campaign strategy and barriers for women’s leadership. She has led candidate and leadership skills trainings for a wide variety of organizations and academic institutions, including: Johns Hopkins, American, Yale, Duke, Dickenson College, Georgetown, UNC Wilmington, George Washington, Middleburg, Murray State, among other schools; Women’s Campaign Fund, The Women & Politics Institute, National Association of Women Business Owners, Women’s Congressional Staff Association, Women in Government Relations, Human Rights Campaign, Women’s Leadership & Mentoring Alliance (WLMA), American Association of University Women, Women’s Information Network, National Democratic Institute, the State Department, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, the League of Women Voters, Public Leadership Educational Network (PLEN), National Young Leadership Conference, American Medical Association PAC, She Should Run, and the Women’s Campaign School at Yale. Jessica has trained and lectured about women’s leadership and American politics in Panama, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Tajikistan, Brussels, Rwanda, Lesotho, Czech Republic and Italy.
Jessica completed a graduate program in Women, Policy and Political Leadership at the Women & Politics Institute at American University. She holds a Masters in Leadership from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. She has published cutting edge research on gender differences in leadership style within Congress and has completed research on new trends in campaign messaging for women candidates. Jessica and her work have been profiled in numerous publications including: Roll Call, The Hill, NPR, ELLE, Glamour, National Journal, Washington Post, Politico, Georgetown Business Magazine, Marie Claire, Spike the Watercooler, The Muse, Sage publications and Forbes.com.
Jessica was named a political top 50 Influencer by Campaigns & Elections magazine. Politics magazine named her a Rising Star and she was honored to receive the Young Woman of Achievement Award from Women’s Information Network. She previously served on Board of Directors for the National Council of Women’s Organizations and was a Leadership Team member for Political Parity. Jessica grew up in San Diego, California, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Pepperdine University. She has lived in Washington, DC since 2003.