When a lawmaker visited Jessica David’s elementary school and asked if anyone wanted to be president, David’s hand shot up. The fifth grader from Seekonk wanted to change the world.
Two decades later David, 31, has no desire to become president of the United States, but she still wants to change the world. A career in the nonprofit sector has taken her from housing-locator program coordinator for the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless to director of strategy and planning for The Rhode Island Foundation.
“I’m an idealist, and I’m attracted to … that notion of civil service and putting other people before yourself,” David said.
In her current position, David pulls together the foundation’s grant-making, money-raising and community-development work under one grand plan.
Before the foundation, David worked for HousingWorks RI, a coalition of organizations advocating for affordable housing. She fell into the executive director’s position on an interim basis at the ripe old age of 26, then helped build the organization’s board of directors and hire a permanent executive director.
“I don’t need to be out front and in charge,” she said. “I like the planning work and the coordination and seeing it all through.”
The daughter of an ironworker and a secretary grew up in Seekonk and attended American University in Washington, D.C., majoring in political science. She moved to Rhode Island after graduation, attracted by the state’s size, its coastline and quality of life. In 2010, she earned an MBA from Bryant University.
David has settled into a career in the nonprofit world but, like a true politician, won’t rule out a run for office. •