Chidi Jenkins is Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Senior Officer for Leadership and Public Policy. In her role, Chidi has a priority focus on the Ascend Fellowship and supporting Ascend’s broader vision to advance the health, well-being, and economic mobility of children and families.
Adept in cross-sector partnerships and systems change strategies within state and local agencies and organizations, Chidi also carries extensive knowledge and expertise in cradle to career readiness, infant and maternal health, and equity and inclusion. In her previous role, Chidi was appointed as Advisor on Childhood Trauma and Resiliency to former Governor Ralph S. Northam of Virginia. Recognizing the power of connecting and convening individuals with lived experience and diverse stakeholders in the field and in community to state leaders, she was able to drive meaningful, trauma-informed policy and practice change in the Commonwealth, and in doing so, improved the resiliency of children, youth, and families.
Chidi advised across the continuum of public health, education, and public safety and helped develop, scale, implement, and sustain significant policy platforms of Governor Northam’s Children’s Cabinet. Most noteworthy, Chidi helped secure $1 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding for Virginia’s Trauma-Informed Community Networks to respond to the needs of vulnerable communities and workforces as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Prior to joining the Northam Administration, Chidi was an elementary school teacher in inner-city and suburban classrooms in DC Public Schools and Arlington Public Schools, respectively. A first-generation Nigerian-American, Chidi was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French Language & Literature and a Masters of Teaching. She resides with her husband and daughter in Richmond, Virginia.