JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After serving as interim director for the past two months, Jessica Seitz was named Missouri KidsFirst’s newest executive director this week.
Seitz served as the organization’s policy director for nearly four years before she was tapped to step into the leadership role. She has successfully lobbied for a requirement to provide trauma-informed, developmentally appropriate sexual abuse prevention education in schools as well as the implementation of safeguards for children in Missouri’s unlicensed schools this year.
“Anyone who has worked with Jessica knows she is ‘all in’ on protecting kids. She is a dedicated and knowledgable advocate for child abuse prevention and child and family well-being,” Jack Jensen, president of the Missouri KidFirst’s Board of Directors, said. “We are very excited for Jessica to advance into this role and look forward to her leadership.”
Seitz is a former lobbyist for the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, but before joining MissouriKids First, she worked in Washington, D.C., on youth development issues. She said she was “drawn by the innovation and change that happens at the state level,” and ultimately came back to Missouri to what she called “a dream come true” position with Missouri KidsFirst.
As the executive director, Seitz said she will continue to lead the Missouri KidsFirst policy and communications work while also directly supporting the group’s members. Missouri KidsFirst has 15 regional Child Advocacy Centers serving more than 9,000 children who have been victims of abuse and neglect.
She will also be working with the organization’s SAFE-CARE network which provides a medical assistance to children who have been abused.
Seitz named two potential areas for growth she’d like to tackle: board development and recruitment and an increase in Missouri KidsFirst’s child abuse prevention programming. She noted the board has some vacancies which she hopes to fulfill with diverse individuals.
“Child abuse prevention is one of the most challenging programmatic areas to raise funding for, but it has an enormous impact,” Seitz said. “Several of our prevention programs, including our work to educate adults on how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse and to implement Missouri’s mandate to provide child sexual abuse education in schools, are in high demand. I plan to focus on identifying resources to grow our work in prevention.”
Kaitlyn Schallhorn was the editor in chief of The Missouri Times from 2020-2022. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.