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Jackie Hilly

Gun Safety Advocate

New York, NY

I had a hard time writing my résumé given its twenty year gap. But I wanted to get back to myself and reconnect with my working talents—and I believed I could.

I left the District Attorney's office in 1985, exhausted after five years of balancing trials, hundreds of hearings and indictments, the demands of a young child and the schedule of a husband who routinely worked seventy hour weeks. Being home felt like a vacation, and the pleasures of spending time with my family without the stress of work felt liberating; I was choosing to stay home.

For years I volunteered, chaired committees, conducted board searches and researched policy issues on foster care and children's mental health. I was disciplined, organized and able to challenge myself intellectually. Only occasionally did “what if” enter my mind, like the time my six-year-old found my degrees and asked: "if you are a lawyer Mom, why don't you LOY anymore?"

When my son left for college, the “what if” of my life returned and I decided to look for a job. A paying job. I was horribly out of touch with the working world. When I was in law school, there was only one computer in the library which we used as a card catalog. I had a hard time writing my résumé given its twenty year gap. But I wanted to get back to myself and reconnect with my working talents—and I believed I could.

The skills I had developed as a volunteer were more valuable than I had imagined when I looked for work in the non-profit world; I quickly found employment. My first job in policy research was a bust. After six months I knew I could not sit in front of a computer for forty hours a week; I needed to be with people.

So I signed up on websites, went on interviews, talked to everyone I knew, and finally found the perfect job. I was hired as the Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, an education and advocacy group working for sensible gun laws. The ED job was remarkably like being an Assistant DA. I love dealing with the public, working on policy for sensible gun laws, helping people who have suffered harm, arguing their cases when they cannot, and seeing changes move us toward a more just world. I feel proud that I leaned in to my next phase and have enjoyed getting to know my working self again.

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