Generations of Strong Women at the Disneyland Resort

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It’s the inevitable question nearly everyone receives at some point in their lives. It first happens as children, then again as teenagers when it’s time to begin thinking about the future, and then again when entering the world of adulthood. For some, the answer changes at every new stage of life. For Jessica Sweetman, manager of Internal Communications, the answer has always been the same.

“I want to do what my mom does!”

As a child, Jessica couldn’t explain exactly what her mom did for work but would proudly tell everyone “She works at Disneyland!”

“When I was a child, I thought everyone had the same job, and the title of her role came secondary to working at the Happiest Place on Earth,” Jessica shared. Along with her three siblings, Kellie, Andie and Matthew, they had the privilege of growing up not just in Disneyland park, but in Disney Parks and Resorts around the world as they opened. “Being a part of milestone moments as a child, such as the grand opening of Disney California Adventure park in 2001, made such an impression on me that even at a young age, I knew I wanted to be just like my mom and a part of the magic,” she happily declared.

Left photo: (left to right) Kellie, Andie, Jessica’s mom Jenny, and Jessica at Disney’s Contemporary Resort in 1995.
Right photo: (left to right) Jessica’s mom Jenny, Andie, Jessica and Kellie at Magic Kingdom Park 20 years later.

Hiring into Disneyland Resort in 1983 as a hostess in New Orleans Square, Jessica’s mom Jenny Sweetman wore many hats throughout the course of her career at the resort. After entering the resort’s leadership program, Emerging Leaders, she was promoted to guest service manager in Tomorrowland Attractions. For the next few decades, she juggled a growing family while learning nearly every line of business you can imagine: Retail, Outdoor Vending, Hotels, Main Entrance, Guest Relations and Experience Integration, just to name a few. Over the course of her 40-year career, her experience empowered her to be a trusted leader, serving as an area manager, operations manager, duty manager and senior manager. She currently serves as senior manager of Guest Claims for Disneyland Resort and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, enabling her to lend her decades of experience across multiple lines of business to the resort in yet another critical way.

Jessica’s sister Kellie was the first to follow in her mom’s footsteps and hired into Disneyland Resort in 2011. “Like my mom, I was selected to join the resort’s leadership program to begin my own leadership journey and have since worked at Main Entrance, Entertainment and Resort Transportation and Parking,” explained Kellie. After partaking in the company’s educational reimbursement program to achieve her master’s in executive leadership from University of Southern California, Kellie entered her current role as park operations safety and compliance manager on the Experience Integration team.

Left photo: Kellie (left) and Jenny (right) at Kellie’s 5-year Service Celebration.
Right photo: Andie (right) with a fellow lead at Pixar Fest in Disney California Adventure Park in 2018.

In 2013, Jessica’s other sister Andie followed suit and joined the retail team in Disney California Adventure park, simultaneously working towards her degree in Hospitality Management. In 2019, Andie was part of the opening team as a Retail Lead for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland park and has since been afforded the opportunity to test her hand at candy making, a magical role she had always dreamed of trying out for herself. Andie aspires to further her leadership journey by joining the resort’s Emerging Leaders program next.

At last, nearly 30 years to the day after her mom’s hire date, Jessica hired into New Orleans Square, the very same area that her mom first started in. Ten years later, and with the help of Disney Aspire, Jessica now has a master’s degree in business administration and is in her dream role working for the Internal Communications team at Disneyland Resort.

Jessica and her family at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in 2019.

“It has been a full circle moment for me to think back to my childhood when I answered that inevitable question of what I wanted to be when I grew up.” Jessica continued, “To me, it’s no longer what I want to be, but who I want to be. I want to be like my mother, who made immense strides to establish not only a career that once seemed impossible, but also a life that her daughters could aspire to one day. While now my sisters and I get to carry on the tradition of bringing our families to the parks, we’ll never lose sight of one thing – that is was all started by our mom.”

During this Women’s History Month, in which we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, Jessica shared how important it is to tribute her achievements to the women before her, including her mom, who have paved the way for her to achieve her dreams in education, career and in life. She shared “Under this year’s United Nations theme of ‘Invest in women: Accelerate progress,’ I commit to the future of my leadership journey to helping others achieve their dreams.”

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” – Unknown