Jessica is an internationally recognized social entrepreneur, a New York Times best selling author and the co-founder of Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).
SHOFCO combats extreme poverty and gender inequality by linking schools for girls to a set of high-value, holistic community services for all. SHOFCO will reach 100,000 people in 2016. Upon first meeting Kennedy Odede in 2007 when working with SHOFCO in Kibera as a study abroad student, she became one of the first outsiders to live inside the slum and was deeply moved by the struggles facing the Kibera community. During Kenya’s 2007 post-election crisis, Jessica urged Kennedy to apply to U.S. universities. When Kennedy joined Jessica at Wesleyan University, fulfilling his own dreams of an education, they co-founded Shining Hope for Communities in 2009. That year, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors in African-American Studies. She won the 2010 Do Something Award and was named “America’s top-world changer 25 and under” live on VH1. Jessica also received the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship. She is the youngest alumnae in the history of the institution to receive Wesleyan University’s “Distinguished Alumni Award.” Jessica and her husband, Kennedy, recently released their New York Times best-selling memoir, Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in An African Slum. Jessica’s story and work has been featured on over six occasions by Nicholas Kristof in his column and in his most recent book and the documentary A Path Appears. She has also been featured by President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Beyonce, and in Vogue Magazine, Good Housekeeping, NBC Nightly News among others. She recently received the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award.