Passion and Pragmatism
By: CAPT David Cutter, US Navy (retired)
When I met Jessica in 2011, I immediately knew that I wanted her on our team at US Pacific Command in Hawaii. Two qualities jumped out after that first meeting; her passion and her pragmatism. Having recently returned from time in India, her expertise filled a critical gap in our organization, the Commander's Action Group, commonly referred to as the CAG.
We were a small team of trusted civilian and military advisors to the four-star commander whose strategic focus was concentrated on enhancing the US pol-mil relationship with major stakeholders in the Pacific region. The CAG acted as the commander's "eyes and ears" regarding political, military, and economic trends in 36 Asia-Pacific nations.
Passionate about innovative paths to enhance the United States’ rapidly growing relationship with India, Jessica developed a comprehensive bio-fuel initiative that was initially viewed with skepticism from military commanders. Despite these obstacles, she adapted her plan in a sensible and realistic fashion that stayed true to its core objectives. The combination of her passion for the issues combined with her pragmatic approach to “getting the job done” resulted in the bio-fuel initiative being approved by the commander for execution.
While I don’t currently live in the Sierra, I feel a deep kinship with the region. Early in my military career, I spent time at Mather Air Force Base training to become a navigator. At every possible opportunity when I wasn’t flying or in class, I found myself heading east into the mountain communities of the 4th district to ski, hike, and explore the backcountry.
During our time as colleagues in Hawaii, Jessica and I discovered that we shared a passion for the issues of mountain communities. From fire prevention and forest management to developing tourism while preserving the natural wonders around us, it was clear she understood the fragile balance needed to sustain our mountain homes.
When it comes down to it, Jessica is that rare breed of person - passionate about the issues yet pragmatic about the necessity to take action. Passion without action is just noise, and Jessica is the right kind of leader that we need in today’s noisy environment.
Wealth of Experience
By: Gautam Rana, Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Ljublijana, Slovenia
I was the Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi when we were lucky enough to get Jessica for six months as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMFs have the opportunity to do rotations in other agencies — at the time, Jessica was working for the Department of Defense). Jessica was a fantastic addition to our staff. She had a wealth of experience, a can-do attitude, and terrific skill set (a keen analytical mind, excellent writer, well-organized). The most important event for the Embassy was our yearly Strategic Dialogue with the Indian Government. Senior-level officials (Cabinet-level) from both governments would meet and determine the way forward for the bilateral relationship. Our section was tasked to draft briefing and strategy papers, and help organize the event. Jessica played a critical role in ensuring the 2012 Strategic Dialogue was successful, including helping to draft key papers and providing important logistical support. Jessica was a terrific colleague and her efforts helped ensure the continued development of the U.S.-India bilateral relationship.
Exceptionally Skilled Colleague
By: Carol Lynn Conragan, Senior Program Manager, Attorney, Facilitator, Writer and Editor Working in the International Development Arena
There's nothing like a war zone to bring out the qualities of exceptional colleagues. Jessica Morse was that exceptional colleague when we worked together in the Green Zone in Iraq in 2006. I was a senior advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) working in the Community Stabilization Office and lending a hand in the National Capacity Development (NCD) Office where Jessica was working to launch the NCD program. I recall the remarkable command she had over a room of senior military officials as she briefed them and others from the U.S. Department of State. She developed an impressive, succinct PowerPoint presentation on the NCD program and how it would build the core administrative capacities of Iraq's civil servants. Through our work together in Iraq and then back in Washington, D.C., Jessica always struck me as an exceptionally skilled colleague. She is a quick thinker, articulate, driven, and dedicated to the idea of making a positive difference in the world. From my early days of meeting Jessica, she told me that someday she would like to be the mayor of a town so she could put her energy toward doing good in her community. It was no surprise, then, some eleven years later (after earning her masters degree from Princeton in Public Administration and acquiring progressively senior leadership experience) when she told me she was running for Congress in the 4th district of California. Knowing her talents and determination, I also will not be surprised in the least when she wins that coveted seat.
Knowledge on Navigating Washington
By: Dirk Dijkerman, Strategist, Change Manager, Facilitator, Speaker, and Negotiator for Effective Development
Jessica already demonstrated key skills essential for successfully advancing her constituents priorities in Washington. Starting in 2006, she helped me at the Department of State as the Iraq Country Coordinator. Here she successfully guided $25 billion in Federal funds through Congressional appropriations and oversight committees, and coordinated with the many different U.S. Government departments and agencies engaged in Iraq’s reconstruction and recovery. I last benefited from her expertise when she advised me on managing USAID’s multi-billion dollar budget for the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Drawing from her international experience and knowledge on navigating Washington, she advanced two high-stakes U.S. National Security priorities. Her ability to calmly manage multiple conflicting pressures, interests, and the myriad of technical and political details involved, sets her apart. I know she'll work even harder for the people in California's 4th congressional district. She is ready to be successful in Washington.
By: Brendan Orsinger, Co-founder at democracy.org
Jessica makes an incredible impact the moment she comes onto any project.
I had the pleasure and honor to work with her on the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq & Afghanistan, and quickly was impressed by her ability to voice the ground truths from her time in Iraq. Having her in the room made the team better, more focused, and more productive. By bringing forth strong advocacy for reconstruction efforts, she helped to shape the content for the Commission's recommendations and hearings before Congress.
Her compassion, talent, and desire to serve is unmatched and I have nothing but the greatest confidence in her abilities. She is a dynamic leader and would be a strong and clear voice for her constituents.
I'm proud to have the opportunity to know and wholeheartedly recommend Jessica.
By: Timothy Nelson
Jessica Morse served with me in Baghdad, Iraq during the height of the Iraq War. Every time you saw her put on her body armor and helmet, you knew that she had an unflinching commitment to solving her generation’s greatest foreign policy challenge. From helping the Iraqi people rebuild their society to preventing the exploitation of South Asians working in the reconstruction effort, she always strove to make a bad situation better. She continually showed compassion, commitment, courage, and intelligence. I couldn’t have asked for a better colleague to serve alongside of in the war.