Meet Us Monday: Jessica, Pathway Navigator

For this week’s Meet Us Monday, we’re highlighting Jessica Jones, M.S., one of our amazing Pathway Navigators. Jessica, holding Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, has been interested in this sector of work when she realized how bad mass incarceration is. Jessica says, “it’s a human problem, not an incarceration problem.” After making this realization, she wanted to play a direct role in providing support to people after they are released.

She loves koalas, the beach, and getting pedicures outside of her work at REAL LIFE!

Before working at REAL LIFE, Jessica worked at the Richmond City Justice Center in the classification and external programs for about three years as well as interning for the Richmond Public Law Library. She worked directly with Dr. Scarbrough in the Richmond Jail, and when she began REAL LIFE in the community, Jessica was instrumental in helping from its inception. She was the first staff person hired once REAL LIFE began in the community.

In addition to being a Pathway Navigator and serving in this case management role, Jessica focuses significantly on the administrative aspects. She tracks everyone who comes into REAL LIFE, reports on their progress, and reports them to the courts. She is the keeper of the data for evaluation purposes (and holds probably over 50 spreadsheets of information she tracks). She is also largely responsible for working on other tasks, such as compiling the Annual Report each year and compiling the monthly reports.

To anyone looking into this field of work, Jessica has some incredible advice: “The good that comes out of this work is really good. Our success stories are wonderful and things to be celebrated. In this line of work, you have to be really prepared for disappointments too, though. I was most ignorant of this when I started. There are going to be people who get locked up again, who overdose and pass away, and no amount of mourning can prepare you for this work. You don’t know how much it will take a toll on you until it happens, so you have to be prepared for facing some losses.”

Although this position can be emotionally tiring, Jessica could not be doing a better job in her role as a Pathway Navigator. She perseveres through the challenges and continues to serve the organization in many different ways. Not only does Jessica impact REAL LIFE, but she says she has gained so much by working for this amazing organization and from the people she has met.

Jessica says, “There is so much talent in many of these Lifers. The guys I work with make me stop and think. When you’re working with this underserved population from a societal standpoint, you’re a little slower to react sometimes. They make me look at things a little differently than I typically would.”

She truly does so much for REAL LIFE and we would not be where we are today without her unwavering support and diligent work ethic. A critical part of our administration and our client support, Jessica has been so important to the inner workings of REAL LIFE.