Jennifer Harris was raised in a culturally Jewish household where family time centered on food and fiery conversation about life, pop culture, and politics. Social consciousness was (and still is) the true centerpiece at the Harris family dinner table and this experience undeniably helped position her for a life of both thinking and taking action, and most importantly, of challenging what is true and just.
When Jennifer was about 12 in the thick of bat mitzvah training, the Hebrew word tzedakah stuck with her. Historically, tzedakah has been used to refer to justice, kindness and ethical behavior. Today, the Hebrew word is commonly used to signify charity, or giving to those in need. Jennifer hung onto to both meanings and at a young age she made an early commitment to living an ethical life and doing her part in her communities, in schools and in her social circles.
Jennifer spent the good part of her early career working in the humanities and teaching writing courses such as, “Writing Social Justice.” Today, she is a seasoned fundraiser and development communicator, and her career now embodies this idea of tzedakah – this idea of cause - mindful thinking and taking action. She is a graduate of University of Chicago’s Master of the Arts Program in the Humanities and UC Davis’s undergraduate program in English and Creative Writing, and has spent well over a decade working through the fundraising pyramid in the nonprofit sector and in academia.
In one of her most significant roles as a development professional, Jennifer provided organizational development, capital campaign planning, marketing and communication strategies to support UC San Diego's $1.8 billion dollar health sciences campus expansion. In an academic medical center with ties to the general campus and the community, Jennifer discovered early on the critical need for inspiring messaging, creative solicitation tools, and meaningful engagement strategies in order to realize such an ambitious vision. Under the leadership of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Development, she designed and implemented faculty engagement activities, communication practices and training opportunities that helped transform a self-sufficient development operation into a high producing, accountable, and collaborative entity.
Jennifer oversaw the creation and implementation of comprehensive philanthropic communication plans and solicitation strategies, including developing and drafting materials specific to donor cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. Throughout the duration of her time at UC San Diego, Jennifer served as the chief liaison between the Development office and the Health System’s Marketing/Communications office. She was also hand-selected by the CEO of the Health System to develop and operate the inaugural Health System Advisory Board—a key constituent base for communicating the institutional priorities to the community and beyond. She built critical relationships with senior leadership, faculty and physicians as well as community members, and ultimately enhanced the University’s ability to match departmental initiatives with the funding interests of individuals, grateful patients, foundations, and corporations.
In the fall of 2011, Jennifer took all that she learned working inside an organization and chose to return to her roots—a trained humanist and writer. Today, she is a proud business owner that thrives on serving individuals, organizations and communities as they aspire to realize their personal and professional missions.
Experienced in thinking across units and silos, Jennifer integrates relationship building, strategic thinking, and clear, relevant content development, in a way that helps individuals and organizations take concepts, messages, and brands out-of-the-box. She subscribes to a personal and professional ethos that embraces the power of stories - that stories can serve personal growth and healing, develop organizations and businesses, and preserve communities and histories.
While Jennifer’s daily work serves the social sector, she also serves as co- Chair for Bannister Family House’s Advisory Board, facilitates writing workshops, and designs ventures that bridge entrepreneurship, cause-minded thinking, and wellness.
To see my academic, fundraising and communications credentials, check me out on LinkedIn.