When Jennifer Ananda, Emporia State’s current Title IX coordinator, began her undergraduate career at KU she had high hopes of changing the world through film documentaries covering sexual assault and domestic violence. However, when reality crashed down, she applied to law school.
When you graduate from college, you find that the film industry doesn’t just have job fliers out there saying ‘Hey are you interested in changing the world and being paid for it?’” Ananda said. “By the end of my first year of law school, I was...just feeling a little...disappointed, perhaps, that there wasn’t more of a human rights issues focus at my law school…(So) I applied for the joint degree to get (a)...Masters in Social Welfare.”
Now, after more than a decade of work devoted to sexual and domestic violence, Ananda is putting her dreams to practical purpose and affecting change at the collegiate level after she began her position at ESU last November.
“I don’t think, right now, we are going to be doing anything too earth shattering, except just clean up the process, make it more transparent, have more communication with students and continue to evolve that forward over time,” Ananda said.
Ananda also said she wants to implement changes that will help to create a succession plan and to rebuild trust on campus.
“One of the changes that I made is that whenever anyone comes in to my office, whether they are a potential complainant or a respondent, I go over a document that is their rights and resources. It outlines that process very specifically,” Ananda said.
Ananda said her goal in this is to alleviate any concerns or trepidations from people who visit her office, but also to make sure she doesn’t forget anything.
ESU won’t be her first position where she will have to rebuild trust based on sexual assault and domestic violence issues.
“My first practicum through the MSW program was with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office where I worked with the felony prosecutor for domestic violence cases to help them find resources, to do a little bit of community organizing (and) repairing relationships with community organizations,” Ananda said.
Ananda has also worked for the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, 634 SW Harrison St., a non-profit located in Topeka and opened a law firm with Dennis “Boog” Highberger, where she covered sexual assault, domestic violence and immigration cases.
“I ended up going to KCSDV as their legal assistant for victims project attorney, where I provided direct representation,” Ananda said. “There I started doing research and training on Title IX.”
Ananda also worked at KU as a deputy Title IX Coordinator for two and a half years.
“Through organizational changes, they have flattened the organization,” Ananda said. “In order to be competitive in the future, should the Title IX position open, I needed to reach out and find another university. Additionally, I had the experience that I felt like I was ready to take my skills to the next level.”
In addition to her more than ten years of service in the field of sexual assault and domestic violence, Ananda has held a few elected positions.
Ananda was elected vice mayor of Lawrence in January of this year, according to the Lawrence City Manager’s office. Before that, she was elected to City Commission in 2017, according to lawrenceks.org.
Ananda holds an undergraduate degree in Film and English, a law degree and a master’s degree in social welfare, all from the University of Kansas.