Westmont Magazine Taking Initiative to Help the Needy
Jedd Medefind ’97, special assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, helps lead an effort in Washington, D.C., the president describes as “a determined attack on need.” The office seeks to reduce the federal bureaucracy and strengthen the work of non-profit organizations.
“We believe government can do much better for addicts, the homeless, ex-offenders, children of prisoners and others when it partners with the compassionate touch of faith-based and other service organizations,” Jedd says.
He manages the day-to-day implementation of this vision, overseeing the office, 11 centers and more than 50 staff across the major federal agencies. Through grants, programs, partnerships and regulatory changes, they boost services to the needy. “It is tremendously rewarding to see all that is happening as a result,” he says.
These efforts have helped produce a 30 percent drop in the number of homeless veterans sleeping on the street over the past six years, Jedd says. They’ve saved hundreds of thousands of lives from malaria in Africa. They’ve substantially cut recidivism rates of ex-offenders and paired more than 50,000 children of prisoners with mentors.
“The personal touch of community and faith-based service organizations has proved decisive for people who often fall through the cracks of more traditional government programs,” he says.
When faced with difficult career choices in the past, Jedd took the road he thought would lead away from prestigious positions. “I chose Westmont over Stanford, assuming it would enrich my character and faith more, but not necessarily lead to success,” he says. Fortunately, his education turned out to be an unexpected asset in his career.
After graduating from Westmont, Jedd deferred acceptance to the University of Virginia Law School to spend a year with three of his closest college friends, living and serving with Christians in the developing world. The next year he scrapped law school altogether.
Instead, Jedd, Trey Sklar ’97, Matt Kronberg ’97 and Mike Peterson ’97 wrote a book about the journey, “Four Souls: A Search for Epic Life,” which explores some of the big questions of life, faith and community.
Jedd served as chief of staff for California Assemblyman Tim Leslie. He also provided communication services to national and international organizations, ranging from the C.S. Lewis Foundation to Price Waterhouse, Moscow.
“I desire to how to live out the central call of our faith — to love God and neighbor with the fullness of heart, mind and action —through the daily choices of ordinary life,” he says.
Jedd credits Greg Spencer, professor of communication studies, for teaching him how to work into daily life the grand but often abstract thoughts of great minds, such as Aristotle, Cicero, MacDonald and Chesterton.
“The things he shared and stirred in me still echo in most every aspect of my life,” Jedd says. “The teaching of my professors at Westmont continue to carry such a positive impact on my life that I often think I’d love to teach someday at the college level.”