“Data is my soulmate. When I get really stuck on a problem, I dive headfirst into all of the data I can find, for better or for worse. Here's the thing...I don't think even in 2017, especially in 2017, that you can spin or ignore the data that doesn't suit what you're trying to achieve. You have to go with it. If you do all of that, and the data supports what you believe in, you're going to have a very powerful tool."
Jessica Shortall is the Managing Director of Texas Competes, the statewide coalition of businesses making the economic data-driven case for an LGBT-welcoming Texas brand. Texas Competes launched in April 2015 with 79 Texas employers and chambers of commerce as signatories to its free pledge. Today Texas Competes has more than 1,000 signers, including d35 Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of small businesses, as well as a number of chambers of commerce and convention & visitors bureaus. Jessica’s diverse career in social entrepreneurship includes service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan, co-founding and franchising the anti-hunger non-profit The Campus Kitchens Project, and acting as the first Director of Giving for TOMS Shoes during the company’s formative years. She is an author and writer on issues affecting working parents and the new economy, with bylines in Forbes, The Atlantic, TIME, ELLE, and more.
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2017 SXSW Conference Keynote, Jessica Shortall - Photo by Dave Pedley