WhoIsShe? SheGives Blogger Jess Weaver


Grew up in Central Square in Cambridge and recently moved back to the area after stints in Maine (where she attended Bowdoin College), Istanbul, and Seattle.

Currently works as the Communications and Marketing Manager at Essential Partners (formerly known as Public Conversations Project)

Interested in exploring trends in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, especially in our innovative city of Boston

Also known for skills in parallel parking, movie trivia, and swing dancing

What made you want to work with SheGives?

For one thing, I care deeply about being engaged in and supporting my community: philanthropically, politically, and socially. I grew up with a mom who – having never completed a traditional degree – noticed a problem in her community and did something about it. A slew of sexual assaults on young women prompted her to start Girls LEAP around our kitchen room table. I saw the hard work and deep relationship-building that went into growing the organization  into the institution it is today, and saw from the inside how the support of giving communities like SheGives made all the difference to my mom, especially in those early days. That experience shaped a belief I still hold dear: when women come together to make change, watch out. SheGives is a community I would love to be a part of one day because I believe we can make a greater difference together. I want my contributions – be they financial or beyond – to be part of an overarching vision for the future of Boston and the next generation of women who can shape it.


What causes are near and dear to your heart?

My mom had me stuffing envelopes for Girls LEAP pretty much since she figured out all it took was food to lure me into volunteering. Since then, I’ve worked for organizations supporting women and girls in so many different capacities because I believe that our families, communities, and civil society is stronger when women are able to contribute. I have served as a legal advocate, a mentor, a volunteer, and a donor – from helping women remain in their homes (and not evicted due to the behavior of a domestic abuser) to taking groups of young girls in Seattle rockclimbing! Specifically, right now I’m really interested in how the digital divide will impact social services and people struggling to get out of poverty. Everyone has a phone, but having no access to or literacy with a computer is hugely problematic for people who are trying to secure childcare, apply for a job, or even access certain services. How will we create new infrastructure to meet that need?


What book (or movie, or song, or any piece of art) had a tremendous impact on you?

Such a tough question! As a former English major, so I’m a sucker for a good book (and a well-timed English major joke), and am a movie nerd. What comes to mind most immediately, though, is a book by a local author named Caroline Knapp. Caroline wrote for The Boston Phoenix and struggled with both addiction and an eating disorder. Both serve as a frame for her incredibly astute work “Appetites,” which is a memoir about so much more than alcoholism or anorexia. It’s about what women are told we should desire and what we shouldn’t, how we deal with conflicting desires in a world that encourages us to judge one another for the choices we make. It’s absolutely beautiful, and filled with quotes from folks across generations about the challenging relationship women have with hunger in its many forms. I think for me it articulated how tricky the terrain still is for women in the workplace, in families, in relationships, and how our society is so rigid in opening up new possibilities.


Who would be invited to your ideal dinner party?

Gosh, I want to impress you guys so much, there is no way this can end well for me. Actually, after learning about it in college, I finally got to see the Judy Chicago “Dinner Party” at the Brooklyn Art Museum recently, and I have to say a lot of those incredible women would make my list! Working in the field of dialogue and conflict transformation, I would love to see the Tunisian Dialogue Quartet in action and learn from their efforts to create a pluralistic democracy. But I have to say, I like a dinner party with a good laugh…so I would have to throw in Gilda Radner to mix it up.


What excites you most right now?

I have recently started a grad program in Civic Media at Emerson College, which looks at how new media and technologies can help to build stronger civil societies and democracies in particular. I am excited to meet potential community partners to work with this coming year!


Posted in WhoIsShe?.