Jessica O’Hare has long had an interest in government and public service. As an undergraduate at Claremont McKenna College, she worked for four years at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government, serving as student manager her senior year. There, she focused on demographic, fiscal and regulatory analysis.
After working for a small consulting company after college, she knew she wanted to get back into government, and later landed a job with a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
She admits that she had never thought of working in local government, even though her father has worked for the City of Tucson for more than 35 years. Most of her fellow graduates headed to Washington, D.C., Sacramento, or law school after graduation. But after working for the Board of Supervisors for five years she found a love of local government.
“[It gives you the] opportunity to work at a level of government that impacts the day to day lives of people the most – the local level,” she said.
While serving as deputy chief of staff, she focused on transportation and infrastructure policy issues.
“When I first started working for the Supervisor, I knew little about transportation, but my boss pointed to the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) building and told me to ‘go figure it out,’ which I did and found a new love and passion for transportation policy issues,” she said.
Jessica enjoys transportation issues so much that she even sits as the appointments chair of the Orange County Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar. While working for the Board of Supervisors, she also initiated a performance audit function for the board as well as leading a taskforce to revisit the procurement practices at the county.
After five years working for the Board of Supervisors, Jessica was hired away to work for Townsend Public Affairs, Inc., a top-five lobbying firm focused on working with local public agencies and museums and science centers. In addition to providing traditional legislative advocacy services to clients, she especially enjoys working with the firm’s city clients in identifying funding opportunities for their many capital projects from local, state, and federal funding sources.
“There is nothing more satisfying then helping an important city project become a reality,” Jessica said.
“I feel very fortunate to be part of the City/County Management Fellows Program at USC,” she added. “The mentoring and relationship building from both the Board members as well as the fellow students has been very helpful and I look forward to staying in touch long after I graduate from USC. I look forward to being able to return the favor to other students in the future.”