(This is the 32nd installment in an occasional series with people who don’t work in journalism commenting on the news. Photography by Kevin Fiscus. If you’d like to participate, message or tweet me.)
Meet Jessica Kriegel.
She’s 32; grew up in New York, London, Paris and Milan; graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison; lives in West Sacramento, serves as the chief revenue officer at Fulcrum Properties and works as a senior organizational development consultant at Oracle.
In her role as the “soft side of HR,” she instructs leaders on how to properly cascade a consistent vision through the chain of command. Do managers work well with each other? Are teams working effectively? Do employees know what they’re working toward?
She believes organizations must identify and retain top talent through ongoing education, recognition and mentorship. While human resources is often considered the part of the company that says “no,” her desire is to be the part that says “yes.”
“I deal with everything that has to deal with employee engagement,” she says.
Outside of work, Jessica serves on the board of directors for the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Alumni Association, Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera and the Sacramento chapter of Street Soccer USA; participated in Leadership Sacramento in 2015; started an independent consulting business; launched the In the Sac app and authored the March-release “Unfairly Labeled: How Your Workplace Can Benefit From Ditching Generational Stereotypes.”
Are #millennials being stereotyped unfairly? @jessicakriegel talks about #UnfairlyLabeled https://t.co/cBcqTaUeVD pic.twitter.com/UR2vaSNVf8
— Jen Picard (@JenPicwhit) April 29, 2016
We met at House Kitchen and Bar in February to talk about the city of Sacramento and her thoughts on the news.
Jessica moved to Sacramento in 2008 and it took her about a year to feel comfortable. She says it is not immediately obvious what makes Sacramento great and “it is not immediately obvious where to go” when you come to the city.
“My love affair with the city didn’t truly begin until one day during the Sacramento Kings’ ‘Here We Stay’ campaign,” she writes in a California Forum piece in The Sacramento Bee. “Passions were aroused. Pride was invigorated.
“On this particular day, we were all asked to wear purple. I wasn’t a basketball fan, but I liked the enthusiasm and to be a part of it I put on a purple blouse. As I walked my dog around Roosevelt Park, I saw a man wearing a purple tie. As we passed, we grinned, laughed and high-fived.
“That was the moment when my eyes opened to what was in front of me. Big cities never sleep, but they never high-five either.”
She says 2009 was the year people began to in invest in Sacramento. The additions of District 30, Pizza Rock and Dive Bar, she says, were some of the first bets that downtown could be much more. Development, with multiple urban infall projects emerging in long-ignored neighborhoods, became exciting.
“Now, every single day, there’s an announcement of something big,” she says, mentioning her interest in new architecture, art and design proposed near the downtown arena. “We’re going to feel like the big city we know we are.”
In order to keep the momentum, she says the rich and powerful must be transparent and better engaged with the community. Pitch projects before they’re fully formed. Hold more workshops. Start to compromise much earlier in the process. If you don’t make efforts to involve others, you’re giving people less reason to buy what you’re selling.
And she says many in the city need a tougher skin. While she values balance and objectivity, she’s noticed a backlash against journalists who are critical. Some in the community will shun an entire news outlet after reading one story they don’t like.
She says creators, innovators and young professionals must reach out to journalists to help shape the story of Sacramento. You can’t expect change by keeping quiet.
“We need to be OK with challenging ourselves,” she says.
Jessica answered the following questions by email about how she gets the news. Text submitted January 21.
How do you get your news?
Mostly my Flipboard, but also The Wall Street Journal, my LinkedIn Feed and the The Rachel Maddow Show podcast.
What’s the first news event you remember?
I remember dancing in my living room when I was 7 years old while my parents watched the news on TV. For what seemed like a half hour, they showed a dark image of some town somewhere. There were flashes of light every once in a while, but nothing was discernible. I asked why the news was showing this fuzzy image and my parents explained that we watching a war. The lights were bombs. I remember being amazed that there was a camera there and wondered if I was watching people die in the dark.
What content do you pay for?
None personally. I have a Financial Times subscription, but it’s paid for by Oracle. I steal my Wall Street Journal subscription from my husband.
What’s the last great thing you ate?
Ravioli at August (John Besh’s restaurant in New Orleans). The entire meal was so good that we went back the next night.
Who’s doing it right in news?
Rachel Maddow. She uses the power of storytelling to make the news compelling without dumbing down her content. My favorite Rachel Maddow show was in June 2015. President Obama had just given a eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney. She convinced her network to forego some commercial time so she could air the entire eulogy from beginning to end. While most news stations focused only on the fact that he sang Amazing Grace, Rachel wanted her audience to hear his entire message: a message about God’s grace and racism in our nation. I am not a Christian but it was a powerful sermon and one of the most important speeches President Obama has ever made.
Name the three most important issues facing Sacramento.
(1) Homelessness — Proposition 47 (supported by 60% of voters) reduced some felonies to misdemeanors. The goal was to reduce the prison population; however a lot of homeless people who might have received services in incarceration such as Veteran’s Court no longer receive the services – so they sleep on the street. Downtown Sacramento homeless population increased significantly after Prop. 47 passed.
(2) Leadership diversity — I just created a Human Resources Barometer for the Sacramento Business Review. Our survey found that women are severely underrepresented at the top management levels in Sacramento, and minorities are underrepresented at EVERY level of the organization. We have one of the most diverse populations in this nation but we are not leveraging this as a strength.
[Editor’s note: You can hear to Jessica talk about the Human Resources barometer in her January appearance on Insight.]
(3) Death of the arts — Local arts organizations such as the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera as well as the Sacramento Ballet are struggling to survive. If those two organizations fail to engage the community, it will be a travesty for our community. They are doing their best to change the formula for a younger generation, but we (the people) need to show up. There is no reason a city this size should not be able to support the Philharmonic.
When Indiana Jones met Princess Leia… Epic night! #sacphilopera #SacPhilOperaInsider #StarWars pic.twitter.com/NiqpePw7mT
— Jessica Kriegel (@jessicakriegel) April 24, 2016
What do you absolutely hate about the news?
I absolutely hate the 24-hour news cycle that uses shock and awe to attract viewers rather than intelligent, valuable information that challenges the public to think. What we consume drives the news organizations to dumb it down. Truly it is our collective fault for watching that garbage, but I wish the news would maintain integrity regardless.
What’s the most important issue to you that’s not being covered well enough?
Post-divorce parental alienation. The effects on children are devastating and it is way more common than people realize. Most folks don’t even know the term “parental alienation.” In addition, the terrible prejudice against fathers in the family court system. It is incredibly maddening.
If you could be anywhere, an-hour-and-a-half drive away, where would you be?
If it has to be an hour and a half away, I would be in Bodega Bay. There’s a cute little house for rent with an outdoor hot tub. I bring my cat and watch him chase birds on the golf course from the deck. Heaven.
If it can be anywhere within an hour and a half – I’d be right here in Sac. The penthouse of the Elk’s Tower is one of my top 3 favorite places in the world.
Follow Jessica (@jessicakriegel) on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.