Jenny King: Opening minds and making strides in science

2018’s Fierce Five Women of Lake Highlands

If you viewed a human brain at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, you partially have Jenny King to thank. The public affairs manager was part of a team that opened the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute’s lab to the public as part of Science in the City, a collaborative partnership with the Dallas Morning News, SMU and TalkSTEM. King also has volunteered with several organizations, including Head Start of Greater Dallas and Austin College’s Alumni Board.

How she became so involved:

It was a build-up. My mother was very involved in the Dallas community. I always called her a professional volunteer when I was a kid. She’d be running late to pick me up from ballet or school or wherever because she was coming from some meeting. She was really a role model on how to be engaged in the community. I learned about important issues and how to be involved and how to maybe make a difference. I really believe anytime you volunteer to make a difference you don’t always see the result of it. I do believe everyone’s efforts move us all collectively forward.

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Her proudest moment:

I was new on the board of Head Start of Greater Dallas. I just loved my time on that board. We went on a joint retreat with our board and with our parent-family council. We all sat mixed up at these tables. There’s this grandmother who was raising her grandson. At another meeting, two years later, she said, “You know that time you went to that retreat? I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with this, but you made me want to stay and be involved in this leadership program.” That made me feel so good because I was just being friendly and chatting with her. That’s why I really believe you make a difference all the time. People just don’t always know it. 

What she hopes for Lake Highlands:

Right now, as we get kids into school, we have kids from all around the world who live in Lake Highlands. They don’t speak English. They have a hard time learning. By third grade, you’re reading to learn, versus learning to read. Head Start can really make a difference for families. We serve families who speak English, and we serve families who don’t. If I had a dream for Lake Highlands, it would be to have Head Start or a similar robust early childhood education in our community. 

If I had a dream for Lake Highlands, it would be to have Head Start or a similar robust early childhood education in our community.

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Challenges in her career:

Honestly, maintaining balance between work and family is perennial. Someone very wise many years ago told me, “Don’t plan your family around your job. Plan your job around your family. It will work out.” Sometimes it’s harder for things to work out than others. It’s not easy to do that. The prime years to work are also the prime years to have children. I tend to go all in, so stepping back and having a break from work [is hard]. 

Her work with Science in the City: 

That kind of outreach hasn’t happened yet, so this is a first for us. We are excited to be celebrating 75 years. For us to partner with the Morning News, SMU and TalkSTEM, to bring science literacy to the public, that’s an honor.

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