Jessica’s Bio

Jessica Paulsen is a collaborative leader focused on developing talent and strengthening organizations to create lasting change in Chicago communities. She has served as Executive Director at Pass With Flying Colors since 2016.

Before joining Pass With Flying Colors, Jessica served as National Program and Curriculum Director at New Sector Alliance, developing career and leadership development training and mentorship programming for college students and recent graduates. Jessica was responsible for successfully bringing New Sector’s programming to Chicago. Jessica has previously worked in a variety of leadership roles with Illinois organizations focused on youth development, ending hunger, women’s health, economic security, and other social issues.

Jessica is a native of Buffalo, NY who came to Chicago to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. She earned a BA in Theater and Communication Arts at Gannon University, and focused her career on expanding access to education, leadership, and professional development for young people after earning an MBA from the University of Illinois. She recently completed training to become certified as a Career Development Facilitator and Certified Career Services Provider.

Jessica volunteers with the Gross Park Advisory Council, Agassiz elementary school, After School Matters, and Cradles to Crayons. She is a member of the National Partnership for Educational Access, Chicago Women in Philanthropy, the National Career Development Association. Jessica and her family live in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, but venture out of the city often to camp, hike, and kayak.


Gannon University, B.A. in Theater and Communication Arts

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, M.B.A

What I Wish I Knew My First Year

“In my professional career, having a diverse group of mentors has been invaluable. I wish I understood that value during college and worked to cultivate relationships with more professors, career center staff, supervisors and others. I would have benefited from hearing about more perspectives and experiences as I considered my professional interests, internship opportunities and post-graduation options.”

Favorite Place on Campus

“The college radio station. I began on-air work my freshman year and eventually served as Music Director and later as General Manager. I spent many of my out of class hours at the station. It was a great outlet for creativity, and allowed me to build so many skills I still use today.”