Jessica David, vice president for strategy, planning and special projects at The Rhode Island Foundation, has been making things happen since the day she launched her career.
In 2003, while working for housing authorities in Woonsocket and East Greenwich, she used her grant-writing skills to bring in millions of dollars to assist people living in public housing. The federal funds were used to provide vocational and educational programs, such as classes in literacy and personal money management. Taxpayers reaped benefits as well, as the training helped people find jobs and eventually move away from public assistance.
While some who work in social services become discouraged by the fight, she greets every new challenge with energy and creativity. “I’ve always been interested in the public-service sector,” she said. “The Rhode Island Foundation is a good fit for me. It offers a big-picture focus and it’s at that intersection where the nonprofit sector, the public sector and the private sector meet.”
A native of Seekonk, she moved to the Ocean State shortly after graduating from American University in Washington, D.C., in 2001. Five years later she was helping to run a high-profile political campaign for HousingWorks RI, a coalition of groups working to help families cope with the high cost of housing. The organization had a question on that year’s ballot, asking voters to approve a $50 million bond to create more affordable housing.
David’s team developed an innovative media drive that told the stories of 50 Rhode Island families struggling to pay for a place to live. Thanks in part to their effort, the bond question passed with 66 percent of the statewide vote.