Jessica Brown ’98: “Don’t take yourself or the experience too seriously – try to find humor and lightness in the challenging situations”

Jessica Brown '98 and family

Jessica Brown '98 and family

This week we caught up with Jessica Brown class of 1998! Since Hyde, Jessica has completely been driven by her unique potential to make a difference and make the most of all the opportunities given to her. From working here and across the globe, Jessica has been on the forefront of environmental studies. She now works as a senior analyst at the Climate Policy Initiative in San Francisco. Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story and advice with us Jessica! Keep up the amazing work!

Describe your career path:

I grew up in Walnut Creek, California, a leafy suburb of San Francisco. I went to Hyde for my junior and senior year, then moved to New York City where I attended Barnard College. I studied political science and dance. I then went straight into a graduate program at Columbia University where I studied environmental policy.

I worked in San Francisco for a few years at an environmental consulting firm, and decided I wanted to get more involved in international environmental and development issues, so pursued a second masters at the London School of Economics in International Development Studies. I lived in London for about 4 years and worked at the Overseas Development Institute where I focused on climate change in developing countries.

After London, I moved to Washington, D.C. and took a job at the U.S. State Department, where I became a lead U.S. negotiator to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. I now work as a senior analyst at the Climate Policy Initiative, based in San Francisco. I am married to Charlie Parker (he’s half-British, half-French); we have a 3.5 year old, a 1.5 year old and a little black cat named Boxcar.

Which word or principle has stayed with you the most?

Unique potential – while we are all human beings, there is no one individual who is better or worse, more or less than the next. We are each unique, distinct, idiosyncratic. There is so much beauty in human diversity.

Which teacher(s) had a particular impact?

Stu Goldberg, Stacey Goldberg, Don MacMillan and Laura Gauld.

What advice might you give to a Hyde student?

Enjoy the ride! It doesn’t last long, but you will leave with some of the most important and meaningful relationships that will change your life forever. Your experience at Hyde is one of the most unique you will ever have. And it’s going to prepare you well for all the craziness to come.

Also: don’t take yourself or the experience too seriously – try to find humor and lightness in the challenging situations.

Hyde taught me how to push myself in ways that I don’t think I would have ever achieved otherwise. I was always an ambitious and motivated kid, but Hyde taught me how to challenge myself in almost every facet of life. I have since learned that the pursuit of excellence can sometimes come with a cost — constantly striving for excellence has often led me to feel disappointed with where I am now, and I was always looking to where I would like to be in the future. So I’ve since learned how to be more present, still and fulfilled, grateful for WHAT IS, and to embrace all the imperfections. Hyde also taught me the importance of believing in my own convictions and not being afraid to voice them.