A Closer Look: Jessica Brown
Director of marketing and communications, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
Friday, January 18, 2013 7:00 AM
• Age: 29
• Hometown: Altoona
• Education: Bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Grand View University.
• Family: Brown and her husband, Brenton, are expecting their first child, a little girl, in April.
Usually behind the scenes, Brown has worked at the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines for almost five years. As the marketing and communications director, she shares the work that the Community Foundation is doing in the community, as well as what its donors, affiliate nonprofits and community partners are doing to improve the quality of life in Greater Des Moines. During her tenure, Brown has helped plan and launch large projects like the Community Foundation’s Giving Card program – gift cards that can be donated to the recipient’s favorite charity or nonprofit organization.
Did you always want to work for a nonprofit?
Right out of college, I worked for a home builder before transitioning to the wonderful world of nonprofits. The right opportunity came at the right time. I had interned for a nonprofit and for a for-profit organization while in college. I remember mentally noting the differences between the two organizations, but I don’t think I ever intentionally thought I wanted to work for a nonprofit. But, you know, it’s something where you feel like you’re making a difference in your everyday work and you’re improving the quality of life in your community. It’s a great thing to do every day.
What was your role in helping develop the Giving Cards?
Last fall, some of our leadership team members went on a site visit to another community foundation and found that (giving cards were) something that other community foundations throughout the nation were doing, but there was nothing like this in Iowa or the Greater Des Moines community. We really felt that, given our work, this was a great fit and a great tool to have available to our community. So much of our work is to connect donors with causes they are passionate about, to lift up the nonprofit sector and just to encourage giving. It encouraged people to give back in a unique way and gets others to give back.
My role with that, I pretty much took the lead, so all of the logistics that go into planning a new project. We were also launching a new website, so it made sense for the giving cards to be a component of that and be able to handle all of this electronically. We wanted to be able to offer a hard copy card as well as an electronic card. We were very pleased with last year – we are right at the $30,000 mark in cards purchased.
What do you like to do outside work?
My husband and I love the theater – we are huge theater fans. We love to go see shows but we also do some volunteering at theaters around town as well. I think theater is a magical process. The way people and things come together to put on a show, and the magic that can happen on stage. I did do some theater in college and my passion developed there. I was in “Cinderella”. It wasn’t the musical version, though.
What part of parenthood are you most excited about?
We are just ready and excited. There are so many things we’re looking forward to. Obviously it’s hard to know what to expect, not being a mom yet, but I just think that it’s a miracle, and I’m looking forward to just experiencing all of it.
Growing up in the Des Moines area, what changes are you most appreciative of?
It’s so funny you should ask that. I feel like I was just driving downtown with my husband and telling him about how proud I am of our downtown. It’s beautiful and vibrant. There are wonderful places to eat and activities to do. It’s been exciting for me to just watch downtown really grow and change and thrive. The leadership in our community and the people who care to invest in those initiatives are just very encouraging.
There are plenty of new things in the works, whether it’s Walnut Street renovations or the new (Des Moines) Social Club building. What projects are you looking forward to the most?
The Principal Riverwalk is just going to be a huge, great asset to our community. But also, there are some things that I’ve learned about while working at the Community Foundation, which aren’t always tangible or that you see. There are the things that are happening behind the scenes, for instance, initiatives to address education, poverty or homelessness.
And I feel that with the Capital Crossroads plan, there is some great leadership behind those initiatives, and so I’m just looking forward to seeing our community address those intangibles a little bit better, the things you don’t see. Workforce development is another one. My eyes were really opened to that when the Evelyn Davis Center was developed. It’s just important to address some of those needs that we don’t see all the time.
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