In 1993, Jenni Thompson helped the community of Petaluma, CA, search for 12-year-old Polly Hannah Klaas, who was abducted from her bedroom at knifepoint by a stranger on October 1 and whose body was found two months later. Thompson returned to the Polly Klaas Foundation to work as a hotline volunteer in 1995 and soon after joined the Board of Directors. Eventually she was hired on full-time and spent 10 years with the Foundation, serving as the Hotline Director, Communications Director, and Director of Public Affairs. Thompson worked as an advocate for missing children, oversaw missing child cases, created new programs to assist families in the reunification process, and was the primary contact for media inquiries and interviews, as well as directing legislative affairs. Thompson worked extensively with state and national officials on AMBER Alert bills earning her a Resolution from the California Legislature for her work to make AMBER Alert a statewide system. She used the lessons learned in writing, making contacts, and lobbying for the AMBER Alert to then write and lobby Congress for the Family Abduction Prevention Act and the Rights of Abducted Children Act.
After successfully co-authoring and lobbying for the AMBER Alert legislation, Thompson was offered a position with the National AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program as a Program Manager. While there, she was instrumental in the development of national training programs for Law Enforcement professionals and their partners regarding missing and abducted children. Thompson also assisted with the development of best practices and standards for State AMBER Alert programs as well as national conferences on missing children and sex offender management.
Thompson continued her career as an embedded Intelligence Analyst for the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the Child Exploitation Squad at the Washington Field Office. In that capacity, she worked closely with the Child Exploitation Task Force to assist in the identification of child pornographers and Internet predators. She also responded to child abductions, providing analysis to investigators in the field. Thompson was called upon to present case studies to other intelligence analysts and supervisors to expand their knowledge of child exploitation and the analysts’ role in working cases with special agents. She also assisted Innocent Images Headquarters with the development of national intelligence requirements to direct intelligence gathering investigations and national reporting. Within her first year of employment, Thompson created and executed the first ever mock child abduction training exercise for the FBI and it has since been used by local agencies in Texas and has been requested by other agencies and FBI Field Offices.
Thompson returned to the Polly Klaas Foundation in 2015 and currently serves as the Director of Legislation and Education, assisting with efforts to obtain funding through government and private organization grants, reviewing, commenting, and developing correspondence on pertinent legislation on both the State and Congressional levels, working on the development of training for law enforcement professionals, attending special events, and is the named lobbyist for the Foundation.
Thompson has appeared on ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel, CNN’s Headline News, and The Today Show, offering in-depth analysis of missing children’s stories, including AMBER Alerts and the riveting return of Elizabeth Smart. Her opinion editorials have appeared in major newspapers, including the USA Today and the San Francisco Chronicle. Thompson has also been a speaker at the Dallas Crimes Against Children Conference, the San Diego International Child and Family Maltreatment Conference, and the National Symposium on Child Abuse. She has also served as an appointed member of the CA Governor’s Child Abduction Prevention Committee and has been an invitee to the White House Conference on Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children and the Rose Garden Ceremony to attend the Presidential signing of the PROTECT Act of 2003, in which the AMBER Alert became Federal law.
Thompson has also worked as an independent consultant with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Ryan United, the National Center for Missing Adults, and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Thompson holds an Associate of Science Degree in Administration of Justice from Santa Rosa Junior College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, with a concentration in Speech, from Sonoma State University.