Those goals led him to Wesleyan University in Middletown
Connecticut, where he graduated in 1994. From there, he
went to Washington D.C. to work briefly for the Democratic
National Committee and then won a spot on the White House
speechwriting team during the Clinton years. It’s no surprise
he called that a “life-changing” career opportunity.
“Former President Clinton is a brilliant man; for sure he
was really trying to do the right thing for the country,”
From the White House, Espinosa moved to the Justice
Department where he served for three years as an aid to
Attorney General Janet Reno.
“That was again sort of life changing. She was the epitome
of professionalism, fairness, just a good person,” Espinosa said.
“She really helped shape who I wanted to be, professionally.
She really was a phenomenal leader and a great role model to
have in those years.”
Still, Espinosa wanted to do more, so he applied and
was accepted to Harvard University. In 2000, he came home
to Gilroy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy under his
belt and quickly landed a job in the Government Affairs
department at Hewlett Packard. He moved to Palo Alto to be
closer to work and became involved with the City Council.
Over the next five years he served as Vice Mayor and then
Mayor of Palo Alto.
In 2008, Espinosa joined Microsoft, a position he said
has allowed him to “engage on issues really important in
communities and a ctually make a difference.”
“I oversee a team of people who are running philanthropic
programs across the country for Microsoft, investing in non-
profits and schools and working on different social issues
around the world,” he said. In today’s high-tech industry, high
turnover may be the norm but not for Espinosa.
“You’re empowering great work. You’re defining leaders and
organizations that are really having an impact on critical, hard,
complex issues. And you can empower them to reach more
people and have an even bigger impact,” he said.
World travel plays a large part in Espinosa’s life, between
work and family, but the memories of growing up in Gilroy
keep bringing him home.
“I grew up in a quintessential small-town environment.
Where you really knew your neighbors, where people really
looked out for each other. Where people really wanted
everyone in their community to have a great life, and a great
experience, and people worked for that. I think those became
values for me. That was modeled for me at home, and that led
to what I wanted to do professionally, and how I live my life in
general,” Espinosa said.
Continued from page 55
Telling a Different Story
Jobsis-Brown had read several non-fiction accounts about this
terrible time in history, but didn’t think her own family story
would fit a non-fiction framework. “As a family memoir this
was never going to work. This was never going to be enough
information due to the passage of time, family living all across
the world, and difficulty in people finding their voice to say
what happened.” She decided that this story needed to be told
through a fictional lens. She also keenly wanted to focus on
that intergenerational trauma, the ripple effect when one family
member’s secrets can affect family for generations.
Jobsis-Brown pursued her own healing for various issues
through therapy over the years but found it surprising that no
one ever brought up the effects of intergenerational trauma.
There is a large body of research documenting inherited
trauma’s effect on epigenetics—how genes express themselves
in relationship to experience—in descendants of Holocaust
survivors. Many of those people experience higher risks of
depression or anxiety as well as conditions like hypertension
and strokes, but it hasn’t been as widely explored in other
survivors of trauma.
Writing this novel brought significant healing for Jobsis-
Brown. In it, her main character Luce, pregnant after a
miscarriage, is drawn back to her family of origin in the event
of an accident involving her brother. The story interweaves
GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN
events in the present—as Luce risks her own pregnancy to
tend to her brother and family—and the past, Jakob’s story
of his time in the prison camps. As Luce gets him to un-
burden himself of his traumatic story, it opens doors for
communication that have been locked to the family and
leads to healing.
“While writing it I really felt in touch with my father’s spirit
and that lost youth and what he was able to bring back,” she said.
To piece together much of the book’s history, Jobsis-Brown
relied upon information provided by Dutch relatives, copious
research, and, when relevant, her own memories. Her family
left the Netherlands when she was very young, moving to Iran
with her father’s job for the Royal Dutch Shell company, and
then settling in the United States when she was six-and-a-half
She hopes that people take away from her novel that “the
human spirit is amazing, that we can always find a way to
break through the mistaken thinking of ‘my spirit is broken.’
We’re all amazingly resilient and amazingly fragile at the
The therapist in her also urges others with trauma or
family secrets to open up the lines of communication like this
fictional family does. “The only way you ever finally release
the pain is by some way being open and honest about it.”