Author's note: I was going to name this page Bio & Fun Facts, but then I heard Anna Kendrick's voice reminding me that "you should let other people tell you they're fun."
A multi-industry, multi-platform content creator, Jenn Bussell has worked as a freelance writer & editor and marketing & communications strategist for more than two decades. She’s the co-author & editor of “Have Fork Will Travel: A Practical Handbook for Food & Drink Travel Industry Professionals” and a contributing writer to Centennial Media’s “The United States Presidents: The Best and Worst of All Time” (2020 Election Special).
Jenn earned her B.A. in International Relations from Wheaton College (MA) and has completed post-graduate coursework in Journalism and Screenwriting. She also holds certifications in Pragmatic Marketing and Project Management. Jenn’s personal writing projects explore the tragic comedy of singledom & dating, pet parenting in the city, and the trials & tribulations of growing up in a dysfunctional family. She is currently working on her first narrative nonfiction book about a nearly 20-year-old unsolved homicide in her hometown.
A passionate dog mom, Jenn is presently self-isolating in Baltimore, MD with her Puerto Rican rescue pup Roo. And also with wine. Lots and lots of wine.
Fancy more details about my professional marketing experience? Hop on over to LinkedIn.
I'm good at: Asking the tough questions and tenaciously following multiple paths of information...not stopping until the mystery is solved and the 'ah-ha!' moment has been discovered.
I'm known for: Editing prowess and my sartorial analysis of award show red carpets.
Makes my heart sing: Being a dog mom. Ceremony coffee with a splash of organic half & half. Finding a great deal on wine. Cooking for friends. Traveling solo to a foreign country...nothing forces a person out of their comfort zone better or faster.
Shhh...don't tell anyone: I cut my own bangs.
Favorite author: It's a tie between John Irving and David Sedaris.
Astrological sign: 100% Gemini plus 25% Taurus
Greatest achievement this year: After much trial & error, finding the ideal time of day to transition from coffee to wine o'clock.
Notable celebrity encounter: On a warm Tuesday evening in Chicago, I headed to my local Irish pub for a post-work pint. Unbeknownst to me, "My Best Friend's Wedding" was filming a scene at my fave Italian restaurant two doors down. In between shots, I shared a cocktail with Dermot Mulroney as we chatted about his time at Northwestern and his band The Low and Sweet Orchestra. I politely convinced Julia Roberts to sign a plate for the owner of said Irish pub, and later that night—when production wrapped at Strega Nona—I talked my way onto the set where Julia was behind the bar serving up beers to the cast and crew.
Fast-forward to that Saturday and a 6:00 AM call time for background extras at Russian Tea Time. After 2.5 hours of wardrobe approval and scene blocking, I was transformed into Saturday Shopper #3, casually strolling down Adams Street—shopping bag in tow—around the 0:42:55 minute mark.
Ever since I was a kid growing up 20 minutes outside of Boston, I’ve enjoyed writing and storytelling. My love for journalism began my sophomore year in college. Grappling with whether to play another year of varsity soccer or pursue new interests, I chose the latter and joined The Wheaton Wire as a reporter, researching and producing weekly articles ranging from current events to politics to social change to on-campus news.
While the written word was my forte at the time, I had grand illusions of one day sitting behind the anchor’s desk of a national news program. I prepped for this illustrious future by interning with WLVI-TV on the number one nightly news program in the 10 o’clock time slot, while also working as a freelance reporter for a suburban Boston newspaper.
After college, I was derailed from my journalistic path after meeting with an editor from USA Today who told me, “You’re a smart kid. You don’t want to be a beat reporter making no money and just scraping by. You should go into advertising or consulting.”
A Dream Derailed = A New Direction
And so—against my better judgment and a need to pay rent—that’s exactly what I did. I shelved my dream of becoming the next Lesley Stahl (a fellow Wheaton alum) and joined a small Washington, DC-based consultancy which provided strategic advisory services to corporate officers, federal regulators, legislators, and financial institutions in the United States and abroad, as well as to a roster of corporate clients seeking to expand their domestic and foreign markets including Avon Cosmetics, Citibank, Hearst Publications, and Hewlett-Packard. We brought Avon Ladies to Moscow and ATMs to Hungary.
A move to Chicago a few years later opened my eyes to the world of advertising, public relations, and direct & digital marketing. There, I was was able to parlay my prior research, writing, and client service experience into account management and strategic planning leadership positions with a number of Chicago’s top agencies including Donnellon Public Relations, Jacobs & Clevenger, and DDB Worldwide. Chicago is also where I learned the art & science of screenwriting at The Screenwriter’s Workshop.
My sights were then set on brighter lights and bigger cities, so I headed to NYC. I continued my work in digital marketing & advertising while honing my writing skills with classes at Mediabistro and pitching stories to women’s and men’s lifestyle publications. I also delved deeper into the filmmaking industry…crafting spec scripts while moonlighting as a costume designer & wardrobe consultant for independent short films and off-off-off-Broadway productions.
Back to Basics
From NYC I ventured out to Portland, OR for a much-needed change of pace. But after two years my Type A personality grew restless, so back to the East coast I went. Since then, I’ve bounced between Boston and DC where my professional journey has led me to new opportunities as a digital-centric marketing & communications strategy consultant and back to my journalistic roots as both a freelance features writer and as co-author & editor of the preeminent book on the global food & drink travel industry, “Have Fork Will Travel.”
At the end of 2019, I joined a talented team of writers to put together a multi-century, retrospective analysis of America’s presidents—from Washington to Trump—entitled “The United States Presidents: The Best and Worst of all Time.” According to our Editor-in-Chief, the publisher of the SIP is considering expanding the magazine into a historical nonfiction book. Fingers crossed!
The Next Chapter
Today, in the time of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, I’ve found creative inspiration from two sources: Masterclasses with David Sedaris and Malcolm Gladwell, and Apple TV’s episodic thriller, “Defending Jacob.”
The result is a new passion project that I've been doggedly researching since May 2020: a narrative nonfiction book about a murder in my hometown that's gone unsolved for nearly 20 years. Stay tuned!