Davenport Discussion with Caitlin Robinett Jachimowicz on the Importance of Community in Public Office
This past spring semester was full of events and opportunities for our students. One of the last events of the spring semester was hosted by the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy (SPP) hosted their third Davenport Discussion series event of the semester featuring the elected treasurer and former city council member of the city of Morgan Hill, Caitlin Robinett Jachimowicz. SPP students attended the lunch discussion to learn about the importance of community in holding public office.
Originally planning a career in journalism, Jachimowicz was inspired to enter politics by The West Wing, and enrolled in Santa Clara Law School. While she was a strong student, Jachimowicz credits her distinguished law school career to her extensive extracurriculars. Through work with various student organizations, and even traveling to Haiti, she was able to network her way to a role as a scheduler for US congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. While grades are important, Jachimowicz emphasized the importance of practical experience, which not only builds resumes but connects you to people who will lead you to where you want to go.
Jachimowicz enjoyed her work as a scheduler, but her long-term goal was to work in policy. To expedite this goal, she became a commissioner for the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Commission hoping to gain direct political experience without the aggressive environment of politics. However, she learned that even at this local level, there was politics and intensity. Rather than letting this deter her, Jachimowicz accepted that there will be many cases in which people do not agree with your point of view, but this can provide the opportunity for consensus building.
Excelling in her work, Jachimowicz began to write policy for Congresswoman Lofgren. She also began to notice the sacrifice Lofgren had to make to balance work and family, only being able to fly home from Washington, DC, on the weekends. Finally, where she had always hoped to be, she found that she belonged back home in Morgan Hill, where she has served in local government since 2017. Jachimowicz told students to prioritize their personal life goals, and resist the temptation to allow their career-driven nature to prioritize work over happiness. work-life balance is possible, but it requires commitment.
The lunch discussion was followed by an engaging question and answer session, where Jachimowicz gave local government hopefuls helpful tips on the next steps from SPP, the importance of authenticity in holding public office, and how shared space between people who disagree can end polarization.