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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Director of Communications Jordan Killebrew blossoms after obstacles

Hard-won victories drive SBCC’s executive director of public affairs and communications to help others
Jordan Killebrew works in the window light in his office on City College East Campus in Santa Barbara on Nov 29, 2023. Killebrew says “I want to bring trust, I want to bring stability and I know we can get there.”

The first thing to greet newcomers as they stop at the entrance door labeled “Office of Communications” is a rainbow sticker paired with a “girls support girls” sticker. 

Administrative Assistant Kirsten Mathieson would be the one to thank for the colorful welcome, according to Amanda Jacobs, marketing communications specialist. Both Mathieson and Jacobs have worked at City College for years now, and have recently welcomed a new member to their small family. 

“We don’t put those up unless we don’t mean them,” Mathieson said with a laugh. “We like to be a welcoming office, and even more so with Jordan here.”

On Sept. 14, the Santa Barbara Community College District Board of Trustees awarded Jordan Killebrew the position of Executive Director of Public Affairs and Communications. 

“He’s very much a facilitator and wants to get people together and get people to talk about things,” Mathieson said. “And I think that’s very refreshing.”

Killebrew mostly grew up in southern California, having attended high school in Pasadena and Bakersfield, but he also lived in Texas as a child. 

While growing up, Killebrew experienced discrimination for being Black and queer. Despite this, he describes how the experiences helped him to deal with “real life situations,” and pushed him out of his comfort zone to make him stronger. 

“It really propelled me into being an adult,” Killebrew said. 

By the time he was a senior in high school, he had become president of the school and was accepted into University of California, Santa Barbara,  where he started off as an art major with an emphasis on graphic design, later turning to communications as his education continued. 

Jordan Killebrew smiles for the camera on Nov. 29 in his office located in the Administration Building on City College’s East Campus in Santa Barbara, Calif. Killebrew was hired as Executive Director of Public Affairs and Communications in September. (Bethany Davenport)

“Communications found me,” Killebrew said. “In developing my professional career, communications kind of bubbled up. What I found is that crisis communications is where I thrive. I have always been able to keep a level head and think clearly through a stressful situation.”

This new discovery propelled Killebrew to start his own consulting business at UCSB, making websites and graphics for campus clubs and groups and eventually, working on community projects.

“The beauty of these creative roles is that we are not defined to a box,” he said. “I am grateful that that’s what my major taught me. It was not to be confined to certain parameters, but to be able to grow and flex my abilities and make it look good.”

After learning about the six UCSB students killed in a  2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista, Killebrew took part in founding the Isla Vista Love and Remembrance Garden.

“That showed me what I was capable of in terms of communications,” Killebrew said. He  raised $50,000 in donations to open the park as well as earning a job in the Santa Barbara Foundation, which led him to the communications office at City College. 

Jacobs, who works as a marketing specialist for the campus, is on board with strengthening the connection between the communication office and students, creating a community of trust. She expressed how Killebrew’s experience in communications and his relationship with the community makes him perfect for the job.

“I am a huge Jordan fan. He’s been amazing since day one,” Jacobs said. “He is a great leader for our office, and I am very excited that he is here.”

One of the ways that Killebrew has been a “breath of fresh air” has been by encouraging students to visit his office for face-to-face meetings. 

“I want to be a bridge and a connector on campus,” he said. “Whether it’s LGBTQ students who need a place to vent and talk, my office is always open. My resources are your resources. I am here to help; I’m here to make a sense of belonging.”

Correction: Dec. 5, 2023

This story includes grammatical or spelling corrections to a previous version.

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