Jen Joly has been a Board Member since 2017 following a conversation with Executive Director Jason Viana in which he asked her if hunger mattered to her. After some self-reflection, Jen concluded that while she had never personally experienced hunger, she was inspired by her grandparents, who lived off very modest means. According to Jen, the way seniors often get overlooked when people talk about hunger and food insecurity was a big reason she began working with The Open Door.
“They would choose to feed their pets over themselves, and that’s not an uncommon story for hunger within the senior population,” Jen said. “I’m really proud of the work The Open Door does with the general population and with kids, but I’m particularly proud of the work we’ve done when it comes to helping seniors.”
One of Jen’s main focuses on the board has been the forming and development of the Communications Committee, and, more broadly, emphasizing the importance of skills-based volunteering to best fit the needs of the organization. The Communications Committee – and the ten-year Task Force that preceded it – has made a lot of progress in terms of brand awareness that has been instrumental in fundraising and volunteering efforts in the past few years.
“Ultimately, The Open Door has been successful, especially through the pandemic, because we can operationalize things others can’t. At the core, we’re extremely innovative in solving hunger in the suburbs and our work toward building greater brand awareness was simply an avenue to helping us better communicate our mission and vision,” Jen said.
One of the ways Jen thinks The Open Door is most innovative is with our unique programs, such as Garden to Table. Jen admires the ways in which the Garden to Table program allows clients to take ownership and recognize their ability to be part of their own solution. Jen’s passion for providing nutritious, healthy food instead of canned goods is another reason she believes Garden to Table is one of the most effective programs.
In addition to the Communications Committee and creative innovative solutions, Jen is most passionate about how the organization has helped seniors in feeling dignified in asking for help when they need it.
“If you talk to any hungry senior, they’ll say they don’t want to take away food from the kids or others in the community. They feel that they should come last, and we owe it to our seniors to do better,” Jen said.
Over the next few years, Jen predicts that the board will work toward meeting consumer expectations and improving equity as the opportunities for helping a diverse range of people to get what they need faster and more easily will continue to increase.
“Consumers in general just expect more. Just because somebody is of limited means doesn’t mean that they don’t want Amazon delivered right to their door. I think we as a society underestimate the pervasiveness of general consumer attitudes,” Jen said.
Jen is confident that The Open Door will continue to reach its goals because at every level, the organization is willing to listen and be creative when making plans for the future. She appreciates that all of her board colleagues are thoughtful, intentional, and unafraid of trying new things.
When she has some free time, Jen loves making fusion foods like Thai tacos or Greek burgers. Some of her favorite hobbies include yoga, music, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.
However, Jen doesn’t have much time for her hobbies while she is busy pursuing her MBA and working as a strategic marketing and communications leader with a national consulting firm. We are so grateful to be part of Jen’s busy schedule and a recipient of her many wonderful talents. Thank you for everything you do, Jen!