Dressed in black knee-high, four-inch leather boots, black stockings, black skirt with a conservative back split, black tweed jacket and burgundy blouse, Adora Andy Jenkins is fashionably dressed for success. By many measures, Jenkins is just that in her role as press secretary to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Jenkins, 32, starts her work day when she awakens at 6 a.m. She reads the morning news clips involving the Justice Department and sends any follow up emails to the appropriate people. Jenkins arrives at her DOJ office by 9 a.m. and meets with colleagues to discuss issues or topics that need to be addressed for the day so that the message from all is the same.
Next Jenkins gets on a White House conference call every morning, which is similar to her 9 a.m. meeting. “By this time I am in need of a coffee break,” she says.
She spends the rest of the day answering emails and calls from reporters, writing news releases, planning press conferences or formulating answers to questions she anticipates the office will be asked.
The job calls for lots of travel. If the Attorney General has a press conference or a speaking event, Jenkins arrives at the site an hour before the event begins to make any last minute logistical or mechanical preparations and to brief the reporters. “Usually the trips are just day trips,” Jenkins says. “Once we flew to Los Angeles at 6 a.m. on a six-hour six flight to LAX then we flew back another six hours that same day.”
Before Jenkins arrived as the chief spokesperson for the top law enforcement official in the United States, she studied broadcast journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia. She earned a degree in journalism in 2003 from what she calls “one of the best journalism departments in the country.”
College mentee and former Environmental Protection Agency colleague, Alisha Johnson, says that when she met Jenkins in college, she came across as professional and poised. “She was very helpful and went out of her way to ensure that I was informed about classes and career choices,” Johnson says.
Out of college Jenkins, thought that she would be working in the news media. Her younger brother, Gregory Andy, says that even when she was younger “she was pretty sure she wanted to be a journalist, no matter the position. It was clear early on that one of her strongest skills was communication and she knew it.”
She began her journalism career while in college at KOMU-TV the NBC affiliate in Columbia. She kept the job a short time after graduating. It was there that Jenkins started to think that producing television news was not for her. She worked as a news producer in Memphis, as well. But that experience sealed the idea for her that she wanted to pursue something else. So in 2005, she stopped working as a journalist and took a job as press secretary for then U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.). From there, she got a taste of law enforcement work as public information officer for the Dekalb County (Georgia) District Attorney.
In 2008, Jenkins worked on the Barack Obama presidential campaign. She moved to the District in 2009 hoping to land a job with the new administration. Jenkins got a job at the EPA under Lisa Jackson, the first black EPA director. She received a call from her mentor referring her to the Department of Justice, asking if she was interested in the press secretary position. She gladly accepted because she wanted to learn a different part of the administration and was also very excited to work for Holder, the first black U.S. Attorney General.
Jenkins has come a long way from her first job working the cash register at a Blockbuster Video store. She is now one half of a Washington power couple. Her husband, Nate Jenkins, works at The White House as liaison to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“My mother always taught [me] to do [my] best no matter the circumstance, no matter how difficult, no matter what,” Jenkins says. “When you consistently do your best, even if you fail, you can be proud of yourself at the end of the day.”