Jennifer has lived in Iowa most of her life, and has always considered the Des Moines metro area her home. After living in northern Iowa, then out of state for a short time as a child, she returned to Iowa and went to school in Johnston, where she graduated in 1992.
Jennifer met her husband, Lee, while attending Drake University. They’ve lived in the area since their marriage in 1996, with a brief stint in Chicago before coming back home to Iowa. They have two children, Ellie (17) and James (15) and live in Windsor Heights. Lee works at Nationwide in Des Moines and they are members of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Des Moines, where Jennifer grew up. The couple was married at Plymouth, and they are proud to be raising their children there. She earned both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees from Drake University, and Lee earned his undergraduate and law degrees there.
Jennifer believes there is nothing more important than being a mom and that’s why she has been an active volunteer in her kids’ education at every step from preschool to high school. She has served as President of the Plymouth Nursery School Board, President of the Downtown School PTA, Mock Trial coach at Merrill Middle School, and now is a member of the PTA and a debate team parent volunteer at Roosevelt High School.
Jennifer is currently an Associate Professor in Drake University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She was first elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2018.
Before teaching at Drake, Jennifer spent 12 years in communications leadership at Iowa Public Television (IPTV). While there, she was responsible for strategy and implementation of communications for the network. She also served as the spokesperson for IPTV, on-air host during fundraising drives, and worked on special programs during the Iowa State Fair.
In 2017, Jennifer was one of four finalists for the Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa's Inspiring Women of Iowa Courage Award. Jennifer has been recognized as Outstanding New Member from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Central Iowa Chapter in 2014, as a member of the Des Moines Business Record's 40 Under 40 Class of 2010, and as national PBS Communicator of the Year in 2007.
Jennifer has been a member of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ since she was confirmed there in 1988, and also served on the boards of the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center and Easter Seals Iowa.