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Jessica Pettitt to Present “Conversations that Matter” September 14

CONWAY, Ark. (September 8, 2017) – Hendrix College will welcome alumna Jessica Pettitt to campus to give the inaugural Senate Jennings Lecture on Thursday, September 14, 2017, at 11:10 a.m. in Staples Auditorium.

Pettitt, a 1996 Hendrix graduate, earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of South Carolina, and has become a renowned speaker on diversity issues and other difficult topics. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and is a Certified Speaking Professional – a designation held by fewer than 800 people worldwide. She will present “Conversations that Matter” in her Thursday morning session. 

With a background in stand-up comedy, Pettitt has become known as a presenter who uses humor to challenge listeners’ assumptions and encourage them to become change-makers. “No matter the person or topic, you are your best tool for conversations that matter,” she says. “Once you know who and how you are, you are having better conversations and fuller relationships with those around you.” Her time on campus also includes a gathering specifically for faculty, which will focus on a justice-centered approach to guiding diverse students to success.

By framing even difficult subjects in an engaging and welcoming way, Pettitt encourages audiences to embrace that they can make the changes they seek – which is the foundation of her new book, Good Enough Now: How Doing the Best We Can with What We Have is Better than Nothing” (Sound Wisdom, 2017). The book’s dedication and acknowledgements both reference Pettitt’s mentor, Hendrix College education professor Dr. James Jennings, who passed away unexpectedly in 2015.

Pettitt’s visit to campus is sponsored by Senate Jennings Lecture Series and coordinated by the College’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. For details, contact Amber Jackson at 501-505-2951 or

About the Senate Jennings Lecture Series

At the time of his death, Dr. James M. Jennings was the Cynthia Cook Sandefur Odyssey Professor of Education and History at Hendrix College. Following his passing in October of 2015, the Hendrix Student Senate moved to establish an endowed fund for a lecture series with the sole purpose of providing lectures and training opportunities on topics of diversity. The Student Senate desires for students and student leaders to discuss diversity issues and develop potential solutions, and expects that the lecture series and its trainings will foster leadership development, community building, and engagement in conversations that matter to the broader Hendrix community. By bringing experts to campus, the Student Senate hopes to encourage proactive, meaningful conversations that result in action for the betterment of student associations and the community as a whole.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit