Copy the Leader: Jessica Palm
Jessica Palm, j’11, is vice president of marketing & PR at the Kansas City Area Development Council. She is also a member of the KU Alumni Board of Directors.

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Jayhawks in leadership positions are everywhere you look, including through the Jayhawk Career Network. KU Alumni, in partnership with SumnerOne, is highlighting Jayhawk leaders who are models for others in their industries with our “Copy the Leader” program.

What do you do in your work?

The Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) is the sales and marketing team to attract corporate investment, jobs and talented people to the two-state, 18-county, KC region.


I work alongside an amazing team of economic developers and marketing professionals to further KCADC’s mission. Leading our integrated marketing and public relations strategies, I have the opportunity to elevate the KC region’s industry and lifestyle strengths to B2B and B2C audiences around the world.


From helping companies new to the region build their customer and employer brand presence to creating robust digital campaigns to amplify the KC message during back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, the KCADC team develops internationally recognized sales, marketing and communication strategies to position the Kansas City region as a top place to live and do business.

What are the qualities of a good leader?

Individuals can manifest leadership in so many different ways depending on the situation, but to me, exceptional leaders first and foremost listen to understand and empathize. They possess and encourage others to have a growth mindset and communicate consistently. Exceptional leaders know when to “mentor” and when to “sponsor” their teammates, as well as encourage others to cultivate these key leadership qualities in themselves.

How do you practice leadership at your job?

I look at everything within my role through the lens of “we” – the Kansas City region; the companies, community partners and individuals who invest and support KCADC; the KCADC staff; the KCADC marketing team. We’re all better together than we are independently, and if “we” can listen to understand each other, communicate as a collective and support one another, then “we” all grow.

What makes a team or group successful?

As a small, nonprofit organization with 23 full-time employees, practicing leadership is a key in our day-to-day work. We’ve been named the No. 1 regional economic development group in the U.S. for the third consecutive time by our clients, and I believe our ability to think big and bold, while always meeting the needs of our customers at the highest level, is what makes us a leader within our industry.

How has your company adapted to the changes brought by the pandemic?

While the pandemic brought an immense amount of uncertainty and unique challenges, it was also an opportunity for us to level set and really focus on the core of what we do as an organization. We embraced the need for “digital first,” and leveraged technology to meet our clients and partners in new and innovative ways. Moving forward, we’re taking what we’ve learned from this past year + and are adding it into our day-to-day processes as a competitive advantage in our business.

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