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Meet Jenna Rummelhart: Using communication tools for social justice work

Jenna Rummelhart is a graduate student in the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business marketing program and also the senior communications coordinator for the Archdiocese of Chicago. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
Jenna Rummelhart is a graduate student in the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business marketing program and the senior communications coordinator for the Archdiocese of Chicago. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
A senior communications coordinator for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and student in the master’s of science in marketing program, Jenna Rummelhart came to DePaul with a drive to make a difference. After securing a scholarship through her position at the Archdiocese, DePaul’s graduate business program quickly caught her eye. 

Rummelhart was impressed by the university’s Vincentian mission, and intrigued by how practical the graduate business program is for students with full-time jobs. “DePaul had all of the elements I was looking for, especially the social justice aspect,” she says.

Social justice is what ultimately led Rummelhart to her job for the Archdiocese. After interning and eventually becoming a marketing assistant for Obama for America during the 2012 presidential election, she realized she wanted to do more meaningful work. 

“After leading volunteer efforts around voter outreach in 2012, I knew I wanted to pursue my profession at a place where I could help more people,” she explains. “In some of my previous roles, I didn’t have the feeling I was helping the greater good, and I realized that I needed that in my life.”

Her role as senior communications coordinator is a good fit, in that it connects her previous work experience, her Catholic faith and her desire to be more connected to social justice work. Working for the Archdiocese and attending classes at DePaul has allowed her to see and understand the rich relationship between the two institutions.

“One of my professors said all organizations must act as if they’re human, but not all business schools will emphasize this,” Rummelhart says. “I believe this comes from DePaul’s Vincentian mission and values. I like how this message connects to my work at the Archdiocese, which involves a lot of nonprofit work around different issues.”

Rummelhart also has applied what she has learned in her classes at DePaul to her work at the Archdiocese. 

“A religious organization isn’t like a business or even an educational institution -- religious beliefs are such personal and emotional things,” Rummelhart says. “Typical work life and personal life boundaries are less clear at the archdiocese, which is fascinating and makes my work more interesting. My classes at DePaul have helped me develop the proper skills to walk that line as a marketing communications professional.” 

Rummelhart describes how her professors integrate humanity into the workplace. In her effective business communication class, for example, she’s learning how to use less-traditionally covered tactics, such as the importance of compassion in tough business conversations.

“In our Catholic religion, people tend to have very strong beliefs and we have to remember – as my class has taught me – to listen and be open to new perspectives in order to learn and evolve,” Rummelhart shares.

Overall, Rummelhart has learned to embrace the difficulties that come with working at an institution that is both a business and a center of religion. 

“We don’t have the luxury that a retail store has to shut down when our profit isn’t enough. Some of the poorest communities have the most vibrant parishes,” Rummelhart says. “Being able to point out different techniques that work or don’t work to revitalize parishes is important. We can then improve certain practices and improve our communities.”

Ultimately, Rummelhart found fulfilling work and connected to DePaul, an institution whose dedication to social justice is clear. 

“As a millennial, I understand the need to search for meaning, but we have to remember this search starts from within,” she says. “Don’t box yourselves in in terms of your beliefs or your opportunities. Belief systems are ever-evolving. Explore what your faith, religion or whatever it may be means to you, and good things will come from that.”