Dr. Jessie DeAro's career with federal education and diversity programs started in 1999 after earning her doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of California at Santa Barbara studying the mesoscale optical properties of thin organic polymer films. She was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) and recruited by the U.S. Department of Education to manage a relatively new Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) capacity building program. In this position she worked with HSIs to strengthen educational programs as well as the administrative and fiscal capacity of the institutions. In 2002 she became the special assistant to the Director of Institutional Development and Undergraduate Education Services (IDUES) and developed a web-based performance monitoring instrument to link grantee outcomes to statutory program goals. She then worked as a science program officer for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).
In 2003 she was recruited to the National Science Foundation (NSF) to become the Program Director for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) in 2003. During this time she worked with HBCUs to strengthen their undergraduate science and engineering education and research programs as well as encourage more STEM education research at HBCUs with the addition of a broadening participation research track in the program. In 2007 she was asked to take on the management of the ADVANCE program which is an NSF-wide program to increase the participation and advancement of women in STEM academic careers.
In 2010 she was detailed to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where she worked on STEM education and workforce diversity policy as a Senior Policy Analyst. She returned to the NSF to work on broadening participation in STEM graduate education, postdoctoral training, and academic careers, as program director for the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program. In addition, she served as the team lead for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) for one year.
In 2013 she was asked to serve as Acting Deputy Division Director in the Division of Human Resource Development where she served for six months and then served eight months as Acting Deputy Division Director of the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings. After these management details, she returned to manage the ADVANCE program and serves as the HRD liaison to the EHR Core Research (ECR) program focusing on broadening participation in STEM research.