Even if you have never met Jessica Harrison, Protiviti’s 2020 Working Mother of the Year, chances are if you work at Protiviti, you know her.
But here is something most people do not know about Jessica.
As our Working Mother of the Year, she represents those who are striving to “make it work” in work and life, pursuing meaningful careers while also raising children. She also represents those of us who have experienced motherhood and parenthood in a different way – through the loss of a child.
Here is Jessica’s story.
In 2008, her husband, Michael, was transferred to his law firm’s Sydney, Australia office. Though she left Protiviti when they went overseas, Jessica kept in touch with employees and remained connected. We celebrated along with Jessica when her first child, son Lachlan, was born while the Harrisons were still down under. After 5 years in Australia, and pregnant with their second child, the family began the long process of transitioning back to the U.S., this time to the Bay Area.
Tragically, in early 2014, Jessica’s daughter Adeline was stillborn at 40 weeks. After a heartbreaking experience in the hospital, the Harrisons returned home.
The first gift of food and note of condolence they received was sent from “her global Protiviti family.”
Over the days that followed, Jessica heard from and reconnected with Protiviti individuals from around the world. “I was so humbled that the first gift I received when I returned from the hospital was from a company that I had not worked for in 5 years,” she reflects. “It truly showed me how deep my connections with Protiviti were and how it would always hold a special place in my life. During a time when so many people did not know how to approach me or offer support, Protiviti sought me out and helped me through. Over the months of anguish that followed, my support networks are what helped me through.”
After several months of grieving, Jessica volunteered with March of Dimes as a way to make sense of her tragedy. Her Protiviti family again supported her – both by joining her in the March for Babies and through their donations. Jessica also became involved with an organization called HAND, which stands for Helping After Neonatal Death. A support group for families coping with the loss of a baby before, during, or after birth, Jessica continues to dedicate time and effort to this cause, raising funds and leading bereavement sessions.
In need of another outlet, but not yet ready to start a full-time job, Jessica engaged in conversations with Protiviti following the loss of Adeline. As a result, she began working contractually on a series of strategic projects, including our submission for Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For accolade and the aforementioned work developing and launching Passport to Protiviti. In the summer of 2015, their son Lleyton was born. And in 2016, Jessica rejoined Protiviti full-time as a Director on our global HR leadership team.
We are thrilled that Jessica came home – truth be told, she never really left Protiviti in the first place – and we are thrilled now to celebrate her as our Working Mother of the Year. We are also deeply moved by the love and loss her family has endured.
“I know there are many people out there who have gone through – or are going through – the loss of a child,” Jessica shares. “I want to tell that part of my story now as miscarriage and stillbirth often leave families struggling in silence. I want everyone to know they are not alone. I am here as a survivor of that loss – it impacts me every day – and I am committed to lifting up others who are struggling with similar pain.”
Protiviti leaders lead by example, and in this respect, Jessica is a champion for parents and families in a way that profoundly impacts our ability to thrive – in work and in life.