This article originally appeared in the winter 2017 issue of Harker Magazine.
After Charlottesville, Va., erupted in violence during a white supremacist rally in August, Jessica Dickinson Goodman ’07 donned her Captain America shirt, made a sign that read “You Lost in 1865, You Lost in 1945, You Will Lose in 2017” and attended a solidarity event at San Jose City Hall.
“It’s heartbreaking, because there are people whose bodies and minds are damaged by racist violence in Charlottesville today,” Dickinson Goodman told Univision when she was interviewed for a story. “Being American means always trying to do better – acknowledging the abuses without celebrating abusers, understanding the worst parts of our history and doing everything we can to avoid repeating them. Always trying to do better.”
Dickinson Goodman has a thing for superheroes, in fiction and in real life. Her own superpower is passion, which she puts to work every day.
“She is irrepressible, well-reasoned, and always addressing inequality and injustice!” raved Susan Nace, a music teacher at Harker. “She is willing to put in the work necessary to foment positive change.”
Dickinson Goodman took classes with Nace and was a member of Cantilena, Harker’s classical women’s choir, which sang songs in different languages.
“She let me put other languages in my mouth and I learned how much I enjoyed this,” remembered Dickinson Goodman, who speaks Arabic and Spanish, and claims that her ethnicity is “geek.”
While at Harker, Dickinson Goodman was also captain of the wrestling team, secretary/treasurer of the Gay Straight Alliance and a participant in National Junior Classical League. She met her husband, Matthew Holmes ’07, at Harker and the two have been together since.
After Harker, Dickinson Goodman moved to Pennsylvania to attend Carnegie Mellon University, while Holmes trekked to Virginia to study at William & Mary.
While at Carnegie Mellon, Dickinson Goodman studied abroad in Doha, Qatar, participated in the Taekwondo and Shito-Ryu Karate Do Club, and earned a minor in vocal performance. She was invited to participate in the college’s prestigious Fifth Year Scholar program, which allows distinguished students to continue their studies for an additional year tuition-free. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in ethics, history and public policy.
Armed with an education and a passion for learning, Dickinson Goodman launched her career by working in the nonprofit sector and politics, in Washington, D.C., Washington state, and back home in California for Attorney General Kamala Harris.
“Though Jessica is extremely brilliant and hard-working, it is her genuine selflessness and desire to help others grow that sets her apart,” said Brady Dempsey, who worked with Dickinson Goodman at Washington, D.C.-based Polaris, which fights human trafficking.
Her ability to approach life with an open heart and a strong mind has led her to present workshops around the globe, from “How to Get Involved Politically” in the Bay Area to “Technology 101” in the Middle East.
“She relates to everyone and that ability is not limited to language, geographical, political, and socio-economic or other boundaries,” said Nace. “She is always able to find common ground!”
Last summer Dickinson Goodman and her mom/role model, Katy, went to Sierra Leone to teach web design and internet research to youth and women.
Her Instagram feed is teeming with striking images and philosophical musings about her trip, including, “Sierra Leone is one of the most religiously welcoming countries I’ve ever been to – we bought bowls yesterday at a storefront sandwiched between ‘Christ In Me Enterprise’ and ‘Allah is Great Enterprise.’”
Dickinson Goodman has helped with a U.S. State Department program called TechWomen that brings women from the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia to Silicon Valley for month-long internships. She’s traveled on a delegation with them to Jordan and this year she is the impact coach for a cohort of Palestinian women.
She is also the outreach and marketing coordinator for Child Advocates of Silicon Valley where she recruits volunteer mentors for more than 1,000 foster youth in Silicon Valley.
Although she doesn’t earn a living in politics anymore, she’s still passionate about being involved in the political process and is constantly advocating for people to work on a campaign.
“There’s nothing better than helping someone get elected,” said Dickinson Goodman, who has canvassed multiple neighborhoods for more than one candidate. “When you get involved, you are not just a volunteer but a change agent, and there’s incredible energy from serving your community.”
She has a passion for life – one that’s filled with action, hope and belief that we can all be change agents.
Contributor Vikki Bowes-Mok is also the executive director of the community nonprofit Compass Collective.