We’re excited to welcome Simone Jackenthal to Breakwater Strategy as a director, a role to which she brings substantial experience and passion for leading and executing public relations, public affairs, and other strategic communications campaigns for high-profile clients in highly regulated sectors.
Most recently, Simone was a Director at Trident DMG, where she organized strategic communications campaigns for clients across various sectors, advised Fortune 500 companies on media trainings, and navigated crises alongside c-suite executives. Previously, Simone served as an Associate at Weber Shandwick where she supported the Public Affairs team with government relations, marketing, internal communications, media relations, and social media.
We sat down with Simone to learn a little bit more about the background she is bringing to Breakwater Strategy and her life outside of work:
What initially drew you to communications?
From a young age, I always knew that I liked talking to people. I’ve always been very social, liked following up on things people told me, and discussing interesting things in the news. My favorite subject was always history, but I wasn’t sure what path that meant I should take. When I started looking into colleges and different majors, it wasn’t actually communications that first drew me in, but political communications. It was the first time I saw the intersection of all the things I found interesting; current events, politics, and talking to people about them. Also, media and particularly social media, which was really expanding at the time. I’m a younger millennial, so I really saw the beginning, and then the expansion of all the social media platforms. I remember back then a lot of people would say, “Who’s going to care about politics on social media?” but now the majority of people read and communicate about politics on social media. I saw the potential for political communications and knew it was what I was interested in, so it just seemed like the perfect fit and frankly, the best way to make a career out of what I enjoy.
What’s something you’re passionate about that might not come up in your typical work day?
I’m very passionate about music, theater, and anything creative. My grandfather was a musician and always encouraged us to be unique. My family really valued self-expression and I have fond memories of seeing Broadway musicals with them. Today, I love seeing live performances, visiting art exhibits or museums, and attending shows at the Kennedy Center. Living in the D.C. area, we have so many great opportunities and resources available, so I try to take advantage of them.
Tell us about a few things you’re reading now?
I’m actually rereading two books — I just finished Grendel and I’m currently in the middle of rereading Wicked. I was inspired after watching some newer Disney movies with my family that all focused on the villains and flipped traditional narratives, suggesting that maybe the bad guy really isn’t that bad. It reminded me of how much I love this idea of nuance with villains and challenging normative ideas of good versus evil, so I decided to reread Grendel and Wicked.
You’ve worked at both large and small firms in the past — is there anything specific that drew you to returning to a boutique agency setting?
In my opinion, starting my career at a big global agency like Weber Shandwick was a great move. I was able to get a lot of early exposure into the way big agencies operate, how they interact with major clients or draw in new business, and how all of the different offerings fit together. But it wasn’t until I made the jump to a smaller boutique that I was given so much more opportunity to staff up, voice my opinion, and actually feel like I was contributing to the overall strategy and not just the implementation or the tactics. I think if you’re someone that really likes to be hands-on and is more of a leader, then a boutique is for you. In my experience, it’s all hands on deck and they’re really looking for everyone to contribute. That’s not to say that bigger agencies don’t, but I think that’s just the culture of small teams; everyone has to do a little bit of everything. There’s also the opportunity to grow, not only grow yourself but grow with the organization. It feels like I’m joining Breakwater at a time where there are so many things we are starting to do, so I’m excited to help and grow with the organization.
Simone earned a Master of Arts in Media and Strategic Communications and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Communications from The George Washington University. Her published thesis focuses on media framing effects of the Black Lives Matter movement, and she currently lives in Potomac, Maryland with her wife and two dogs.