Getting to know: Jenny Jones
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Getting to know: Jenny Jones

'I work in the Jewish community because I love it and I care'

Jenny Jones. Photo courtesy of Jenny Jones
Jenny Jones. Photo courtesy of Jenny Jones

Friends often ask Jenny Jones about the awkwardness of fundraising.

“Asking for money is like 5% of what I do,” the longtime development professional said. “It’s all about the lead-up to the ask, getting people involved in your organization, creating volunteer opportunities for people to actually see what you do and selling the product.”

For years, Jones, 42, has helped numerous organizations follow that model.

After college, she worked as director of development at the University of Cincinnati’s Hillel on campus. When her husband got a job in Pittsburgh, Jones joined the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh as a campaign associate. She remained at the umbrella organization, and held multiple roles, for nearly a decade before spending almost eight years overseeing development at Community Day School. Then, last May, the Squirrel Hill resident lent her talents nationwide and became director of development at the Jewish Fertility Foundation, an Atlanta-headquartered organization that helps hopeful parents through financial assistance, emotional support and education about infertility.

Jones, who serves JFF while living in Pittsburgh, shared the organization’s accomplishments.

Since its 2014 inception, JFF has distributed 214 fertility grants totaling almost $1.7 million toward loans, clinic discounts and other services. Thanks to relationships with 21 partner fertility clinics, JFF counts 135 babies born, 78 babies “on the way” and seven locations nationwide, including one in Pittsburgh, she said.

Along with sites in Atlanta and Pittsburgh, JFF operates in Cincinnati, Birmingham, Tampa, Washington, D.C., and Denver.

More than 300 volunteers nationwide assist the organization with programs, including a matching service where a parent who has been “through this process” is paired with “somebody who is just starting their journey,” Jones said. “It’s very confidential. It’s private. We know that these things are sensitive, and we are very cautious.”

While the organization has raised $1.4 million this year, she said, “the needs are only growing. People are getting married later. People are having babies later.”

“While an estimated 1 in 6 Americans experience medical infertility, we know the rates are higher among the Jewish community,” JFF CEO and founder Elana Frank told the Chronicle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 16.3% of married women, ages 15-49, have “impaired fecundity.”

About 300,000 Jews are “experiencing infertility across the nation,” Jones said.

Of the countless causes Jones has aided over the years, Jewish fertility is among the most important, she said: “I’m a woman in my 40s. I have two kids. Obviously, I want my kids to have kids, so I just need to make sure that everybody is able to do that, and can afford it because it’s only going to get more expensive.”

JFF estimates that the cost of an average IVF cycle in the U.S. is approximately $20,000 (with no guarantee of success), given various factors, including location and insurance.

As director of development, dealing with finances is part of her job, but much of Jones’ responsibilities involve meeting with people and sharing stories.

The reality and difficulty of infertility are essential to be told, just as people must know about JFF and the services it provides, Jones said. Last year, the organization strengthened its commitment to inclusion by recognizing the needs of the  LGBTQIA+ community and creating a program where “same-sex couples can meet other same-sex couples and talk about their struggles.”

Jones said she’s thrilled about her work with JFF and that, in many ways, it offers similar responsibilities and rewards as her previous professional endeavors.

“I love meeting people. I love building relationships. I love sharing what I do,” she said. “I don’t work in the Jewish community to make the big bucks. I work in the Jewish community because I love it and I care. This is so not a job for me. This is my pleasure.” PJC

Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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