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CRA Spotlight Series: Jennelle Arthur

May 18, 2020

Jennelle Arthur, lawyer-turned-rock-star strategy manager, moved to Philadelphia in 2018 after working in the West Virginia office for a few years. She leads the agency’s expansion efforts in this market while managing client work like energy efficiency campaigns in multiple states and projects for one of the largest energy companies in the region. She also is a member of CRA's Communications and Media Training team.

Jennelle Walking to Work

Earlier this year, Jennelle was named an Ambassador for the Mainline Chamber of Commerce and appointed to the Markward Recreation Advisory Council Board of Directors.

She’s smart, strategic and focused — all qualities our clients have come to expect when working with Jennelle and CRA.

Every day — no matter the weather or kind of shoes she’s wearing — she walks from her downtown home she shares with her husband Aaron and kids, four-year-old Wyatt and two-year-old Ellie, to CRA’s Broad Street office. Let’s start here:

What motivates you to walk to work every day?

To get my steps in, ha! Actually, it’s true. There are so many great food choices here in Philly like pretzels, cheesesteaks and Tastykakes. Oh, the Tastykakes.

Jennelle Walking to Work

Sounds delish! You’ve been at CRA since 2017, transitioning from law to communications. How did being a lawyer prepare you for your role?

Strategy and organization — these are two important skills as a lawyer. Also knowing how to think big picture when working toward a goal and to do it efficiently and in an organized way. I also learned the value of truly listening to my clients.

Jennelle Working

How did you learn about CRA? Why did you want to work at the agency?

Our CCO, Alisha, and I have a mutual friend. Alisha joined us for lunch one day and I remember how excited and passionate she was as she told me about CRA. As a lawyer, I didn’t have that level of excitement. It was at that moment I knew I wanted a change. It wasn’t long after that I joined the CRA family.

What has been your most challenging project?

Planning a very large-scale event for a client during the annual Greenbrier Classic — a golf tournament that attracts people from all over the world and hosted at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. There were so many moving parts, and I had to get it right! Thank goodness I’m a whiz, and really enjoy creating Excel spreadsheets! There were stressful moments during the planning, but the event went very smoothly. I was eight months pregnant too, which could’ve added to my stress!

What's the most important thing you’ve learned while at CRA?

There are places that appreciate and reward its employees for hard work and successes. CRA is the first place I’ve worked where hard work is not only noticed, it’s appreciated and rewarded.

What do you enjoy most?

Taking ownership in a project or campaign and watching it grow from an idea. It’s really an amazing process to be a part of.

Congratulations on your recent appointments to the Mainline Chamber of Commerce and Markward Recreation Advisory Council. You must be excited?

Thanks! I’m so honored! I’m coming into my own in a new role at CRA, and I’m excited to participate on these boards. It’s all about networking and helping others learn more about the benefits of community involvement and business connectivity.

Why is community involvement important?

Something that’s encouraged at CRA is to get involved in the community, but life demands make it easy to put off because it can feel ‘extra’. I had to force myself to get out in the community and volunteer. Now it’s one of the best parts of my day.

Connecting with the community is an important part of what we do at CRA, and it’s nice to feel like a part of something bigger than me.

Something that’s become clear to me is how relationship-based our work is. It’s about people meeting people and people trusting people. You can have a successful business like we do with trusting relationships. I've embraced it and I’m happier for it!

Jennelle in Philadelphia

CRA’s 40 staff members began working from home in mid-March (states including Pennsylvania issued stay-at-home orders shortly thereafter) because of COVID-19. How did this impact you and your work?

I’m luckier than most, because CRA was already well positioned to have us work from anywhere. I feel like we didn’t miss a beat when it came to switching to a work-from-home schedule — we had the technology and processes in place, so the rest was just logistics. The biggest issue has been juggling having my two kids at home with me.

Do you think the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the way in which we, as a society, communicate?

I think this pandemic will fundamentally change some aspects of our society. Most of the technologies we’re all using existed before COVID-19, but people are slow to embrace change and technology. This was a bit of sink-or-swim, with everything being forced to go online. I think some of it (like video conferences, telemedicine, online grocery shopping) may end up staying popular after the immediate crisis passes.

You have an unexpected day off — what do you do?

With or without my kids? If my kids weren’t home, I’d watch Netflix, nap, then watch more Netflix. One of my favorite shows is The Great British Bake Off. I aspire to be a great baker even though I have very little patience. I also hate following recipe instructions, but this show has inspired me to have more patience and follow instructions. Hopefully one day I will be a better baker.

It's been a challenging year for everyone because of COVID-19. As society adapts to a new kind of normal, what are you looking forward to?

Embracing my new roles at CRA and in the community, and making lasting business connections. I’m excited to help people learn more about their communities just like representatives from these organizations did for me not very long ago.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

(under her breath) Please be our next client. Look us up in Philly!

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