BY JAMES FARRELL
Patrick Jenkins has spent more than 15 years working in community relations, government administration and public policy. In 2009, he founded Patrick B. Jenkins and Associates, a lobbying firm that focuses on community relations for his clients, often helping businesses who move into new communities to get acclimated to the neighborhood and its leaders.
But the underlying goal of all of Jenkins’ work is to give back to his community through advocating for policies and clients who he believes do good work, especially in fields such as education. He became involved in his line of work after being attracted to the idea that public policy and committed organizations can help change lives on a broad scale.
“I’ve been lucky enough to only take clients that I want to take,” he said. “Also, in terms of where you advise your clients, sometimes you advise your clients to participate in the community or to broaden their reach into the community and I think that also helps provide opportunities.”
For Jenkins, education is one of the issues he cares about most. He talked about the importance of improving opportunities for students to go to better schools. He’s a strong advocate of charter schools, arguing that with collaboration between public and other traditional private schools, such a partnership could help create new ideas and structures for education to be more effective.
“I do think that charter schools are here to stay,” he said. “All aspects of education need to be respected and we need to use things like charter schools and some of the non-public schools to kind of inform our policy and also provide more opportunity for young people.”
His focus largely comes from his experience growing up in Jamaica, where local schools did not provide children with great options.
“The schools in my neighborhood have been bad since I was a child,” he said. “I got bussed out of the neighborhood because they were bad. They’re still bad.”
To improve education, Jenkins does his part by speaking on education reform and representing clients like Democrats for Education Reform.
“I also do my best working with my client to move an agenda that tries to shake up the educational infrastructure of the state,” he said.
Outside of lobbying and community relations, Jenkins tries to improve the community through mentoring and speaking to young people in high schools around Queens as part of a group known as the United Black Men of Queens. The group focuses on trying to provide young black men with role models who are professionals—lawyers, doctors and, in Jenkins’ case, lobbyists—to show the wide range of career paths that exist beyond their neighborhoods.
“You can live in South Jamaica, Queens, and barely leave,” he said. “Some kids stay in Far Rockaway and never see Manhattan. So, we try to open opportunities up to them and show them this world can be theirs just as much as anybody else’s.”
His focus on policy stemmed from years working for the Board of Education, where he was a substance abuse counselor. As important as he considered the work, Jenkins said he felt it did not go far enough.
“It just seemed like, a lot of people say, if you help one kid at a time, you’re doing something and I just didn’t buy that,” he said. “I thought I could have a bigger impact developing policy that actually would help people.”
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, email@example.com or @farrellj329.