Jenny Denver, a senior associate, joined ScottMadden in 2022 and works within the firm’s corporate and shared services practice. With 20 years of experience dedicated to the study of human behavior and well-being, she specializes in talent and change management. She holds a master’s in research and experimental psychology from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga in addition to a master’s in social work and a Ph.D. in cognitive and developmental psychology, both from Louisiana State University.
Dancing Through Life
Jenny grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and from a young age approached life with equal parts drive and gusto. As a child, she was committed to success both in school and in the dance studio. After classes were over, she taught tap and jazz and used her weekends to travel with her competitive dance team. Any additional spare time was spent reading true crime and anything else that she could find on forensic psychology. Jenny credits her ability to balance these demands to her family’s support; her mom, a librarian of 40 years, and her dad, affectionately known as “Big Kev,” gave her the security to test boundaries and pursue many different interests.
With a growing passion for psychology, Jenny took courses through a local community college during high school. A course taught by an inspiring professor solidified her interest in pursuing and understanding human cognition and behavior. She received a full-ride scholarship from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she would commit the next few years to psychology.
Finding Her Groove
The honors program at UTC jumpstarted Jenny’s academic career in research; not only did this program allow for fellowship opportunities, but it also connected her to an influential mentor whom she helped publish a textbook on the story of human development. Further, the program gave her an opportunity to travel—the most exciting trips being to Greece for a seminar on classical studies and to New Zealand to present her research on episodic memory. Jenny’s undergraduate thesis, her favorite research to date, focused on flashbulb memory; her research demonstrated that, despite age, memories of highly unique events, such as 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, remained largely intact over time and shared similar qualities across many different age cohorts. Outside of academic settings, Jenny could be found at Chattanooga Lookout games coordinating the entertainment in between innings.
Following graduation, Jenny pursued her master’s in research and experimental psychology. This program took her to inner-city preschools, to medical settings, and even to Boston for an internship with a forensic consultancy. Through this internship, she was part of a team that assessed a high-profile serial killer who had recently been caught after 30 years on the loose. In 2005, Jenny moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to pursue a Ph.D. in cognitive and developmental psychology at LSU. Arriving just one month prior to Hurricane Katrina, she took part in a variety of research projects, studying the cognitive impacts of hurricane survival. Over these five years, as a “break” from intensive research, Jenny also received a master’s in social work and had the opportunity to work as a grief counselor and as a behavioral science educator for family medicine residents.
After completing her Ph.D., Jenny moved back to Chattanooga, briefly returning to teaching and grant work at UTC before pursuing a new challenge—a career outside of academia. In 2011, she joined the Tennessee Valley Authority. Eventually, she was pulled into HR to oversee various programs, initiatives, and teams related to performance management, succession management, employee engagement, and workforce planning and analytics. Throughout her tenure, great strides were made in the use of engagement survey data in business planning. Jenny steadily demonstrated to lead the many ways that employee engagement and well-being can impact critical business goals. Jenny’s next move took her to Signal Energy Constructors, a newer company known for its incredible work culture but without a formal talent organization. She was offered the unicorn opportunity to build out the talent management function—one of her proudest accomplishments. Following a change of leadership and company focus, she was connected to ScottMadden, where she now advises energy clients through the firm’s corporate & shared services practice.
Taking a Bow
Still, at home in Chattanooga, Jenny and her partner, Matt, enjoy life—albeit a hectic one—with their two kids, Tucker (5) and Beckett (1), and two dogs, Cooper (German Shephard mix) and Les (Basset Hound, Dachshund mix). Currently, Tucker is in the midst of a months-long Titanic obsession and likes to serenade anyone who will listen with renditions of My Heart Will Go On. Thankfully, both Jenny and Matt’s parents are in town and are able to help out with the kids, leaving Jenny time to enjoy reading, crafting with cardboard to fulfill Tucker’s latest creative visions, and volunteering with several local organizations committed to empowering women.