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Mountain States Spotlight with Jessica Markowitz

  • February 17, 2021

This month’s Mountain States Spotlight features our region’s newest team member: Development Assistant Jessica Markowitz. We are thrilled to have Jessica joining our regional staff.

How did you first become involved in ADL? How are you involved now?

I have known about ADL since I was a young girl. I’ve learned more about its efforts fighting antisemitism and hatred more recently as my mother, a Seattle Public School teacher, has started working with the ADL Northwest Region to incorporate the “No Place For Hate” Program in her classroom. She speaks so highly of the program and her students’ reaction and reminded me of the importance of the anti-bias training that I received in middle school. Additionally, while studying at NYU, many of my classes referenced ADL’s work throughout the civil rights movement and in the fight for racial justice in the United States.

After a crazy year for the entire world, I decided I needed to commit myself to an organization that is working to create a better world. When I saw a job opening in Denver, Colorado – where I had recently decided to relocate – I knew that this was the moment to join this incredible organization. I am now working as the development assistant in the Mountain States office and am thrilled to be a part of this incredible team.

What do you do in your professional life?

I began my career interning for various startups and nonprofits, including the American Jewish Committee and a grassroots organization based out of Seattle focusing on women’s empowerment in Rwanda. Since then, I have focused primarily on fundraising and community development. After graduating from NYU, I worked as a JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps Fellow, supporting the local Jewish community and building programming for young Jewish adults. I worked at the Jewish Community Center in Budapest alongside the development director to meet their marketing and fundraising goals. After finishing my fellowship, I was working as a consultant with a firm focused on nonprofit strategy and fundraising where I continued pursuing my interests in philanthropy and development.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to work with people and considered a career in teaching. I also wanted to be a dancer who traveled around the world.

Where were you born? From where do your ancestors hail?

I was born in Seattle, WA. I’m a proud Seattleite who loves coffee. My mother’s family originally comes from Rhodes, Greece (we had a family reunion with over 100 family members a few years ago in Rhodes)! My father’s family comes from Latvia and Lithuania. Before World War II, they left to start a new life in South Africa, where my father was born and raised.

What’s your favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is Passover. Growing up I always loved the stories, the food, and the activities. Passover means lots of family, music, and excitement. Despite giving up gluten (which is my favorite), the seders are some of my favorite moments.

What’s your favorite food?

Pesto pasta – such a fan of basil.

What are you reading?

I am currently reading How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. I helped launch the DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) book club at my previous job and we developed a list of important books that should be read to begin leaning in to our country’s history and current racial issues.

What’s a special place you have visited?

One of the most special places I have visited would have to be the Serengeti in Tanzania. I have never seen such beauty and nature in its purest form in my life. Lions walking past you, baboons jumping into your jeep… no experience can compare.

What’s one thing every person should know or experience?

Based on my last answer, I would say if one can experience a safari, it is the most magnificent sight.

What teacher or class stands out to you the most in your education and why?

My favorite class during my time at NYU was my freshman year course called “Lyrics on Lockdown.” The course focused on mass incarceration and criminal justice in the United States. After five sessions of intensive reading, discussion, and learning, we spent the second half of our course visiting Rikers Island Prison and teaching different art workshops to the young teenagers incarcerated at Rikers. This experience emphasized the importance of one’s humanity and treating others as human. It taught me the importance of recognizing one’s privilege and that there is an entire world outside of your own in which people are struggling and suffering. Lastly it taught us the horrific reality of mass incarceration in this country. The vulnerability of my professor and classmates in this learning experience made it feel like much more than a class.

What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?

I am extremely passionate about dogs.

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

Probably with my dog or somewhere outside – biking, hiking, walking.

Complete this sentence: For me, ADL is …

Doing the real work – the work that we all should be doing to make this world a better, safer, and just place.