Alumni Spotlight: Jenna Zitomer '18

Jenna started her studies at Cornell focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though she quickly discovered an interest in and passion for the languages, politics and cultures of the Middle East region more broadly. Jenna complemented her studies at Cornell with an abroad semester at SOAS University of London, where she focused her studies on Arabic, gender theory and international development. 

Following internships and fellowships in the non-profit, lobbying and international development industries, Jenna was unsure of what direction to pursue after graduating with her degree in Near Eastern Studies and International Relations. There were so many paths she could take in her career, and she needed the time and space to figure it out. But one thing was clear: she had to get to DC. Jenna moved to the DC metro area after college, where she worked at Gartner conducting research and writing on the Future of Work, DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), Ethical Leadership and Organizational Civic Engagement. It was at Gartner where Jenna realized a deep and unwavering commitment to civic engagement work as she played a key role in building Gartner's cannon of civic engagement research. By the end of 2019, Jenna wanted to get more involved in voter engagement and mobilization. Throughout 2020, Jenna remotely ran Rock the Vote's youth voter engagement efforts in Iowa in addition to her role at Gartner. It was in voter turnout and engagement work that Jenna realized she had found her bread and butter. She wanted to make this work her full-time gig. 

Just this past year, Jenna was finally able to marry her research skills with her love of voter engagement and mobilization when she landed a job as the Deputy Director of Research and Innovation at the Voter Participation Center. In this role, Jenna works on revolutionizing the way the civic engagement industry reaches and communicates with those voters most underrepresented in our political system. After finishing the midterms, she is excited to work on her first full-time presidential cycle. On the weekends and after work, she can almost always be found on a hiking trail, at her local climbing gym, or on the phone with her freshman year roommate-turned-best friend. She's looking forward to her five-year reunion in 2023 (5 years already?!) and is grateful to the Near Eastern Studies department for encouraging her curiosity, challenging her assumptions and broadening her interests. 

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Jenna Zitomer in front of Taughannock Falls