MDC welcomes two new staff for relevancy, inclusion and diversity

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announces the appointment of Jessica Hoey of Jefferson City as its new Relevancy Chief and Christopher Kennedy of St. Louis to a new position as Assistant to the Director on Inclusion and Diversity.

In her new position, Hoey will work with MDC team members and partners to develop opportunities that allow all Missourians to connect with the state’s nature and natural resources.

In his new position, Kennedy will work closely with staff at all organizational levels to develop and implement inclusion and diversity strategies and priorities for the agency.

More on Jessica Hoey

A native Missourian, Hoey’s career has focused on developing the capacities of individuals and communities to create organizational changes that foster equitable access to resources and opportunities for all. Hoey recently returned to Jefferson City after living in Chicago and the Bay Area of California. She brings more than 20 years of experience in both non-governmental and community-based organizations dedicated to poverty reduction, violence prevention, youth development, and health education.

Before joining MDC, Hoey served as Director of Public Affairs and Community Engagement for the Missouri Community Action Network (CAN), the association for the state’s 19 Community Action Agencies. At Missouri CAN, she led the association’s advocacy, public policy, communications, community development, and public-education initiatives.

Prior to returning to Missouri in 2017, she served as the manager of the Youth Programs Department for Lions Clubs International where she helped grow the association’s service-learning clubs around the world, streamlined day-to-day operations, and improved the overall member experience.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has crystalized the importance of outdoor activities and Missourians’ overall connection with nature,” Hoey said. “I’m excited to collaborate with MDC staff and partners to develop initiatives that will grow awareness and citizen engagement with the outdoors through conservation-related activities.”

More on Christopher Kennedy

Also a native Missourian, during his 25-year career with MDC, Kennedy has assisted MDC with its workforce diversity initiatives for recruitment, diversity training, mentoring, outreach initiatives, and internship programs. He was also a recent participant in The Missouri Way Leadership Academy where he received intensive leadership and team-building training. During the Academy, he served on a project team that focused on cultivating inclusion and diversity within Missouri state government. 

Prior to his new position, Kennedy’s career with MDC began with assisting private landowners with pond and stream management, public lake management, and conducting public aquatic resource education.  He also led research and restoration of aquatic species such as alligator gar while advancing opportunities for Missouri’s diverse youth to work with resource professionals to manage public resources.

As Fisheries Regional Supervisor, he provided coordination, workload prioritization, and oversight of adaptive aquatic habitat and species conservation management activities for Fisheries Division employees within 16 counties of the southeast region of Missouri. 

“Advancing the conservation ethic among Missourians is vital to our future success,” Kennedy said. “Our ability to accomplish this surmountable task will be dependent on our agency’s ability to provide equitable public conservation education and services for all citizens. I am proud to serve MDC staff and the citizens of Missouri in this new capacity and am committed to the advancement of inclusion and diversity in conservation.”        

Learn more about the Missouri Department of Conservation at