CCP Anniversary Series: Spotlight on Jeff Kessner ’07

We recently caught up with some of our CCP alums for our tenth anniversary! Read about Jeff Kessner ’07, who is currently completing the Port Authority of NY & NJ Leadership Fellows Program.

jeff-kessnerName: Jeff Kessler
Class Year: 2007
Major(s): American Studies and Sociology

What have you been doing since leaving Wesleyan?

Immediately after Wesleyan I joined an Americorps program — New Sector Alliance — in Boston where I served as a management consultant for a nonprofit organization called Interise. After my year of service, I stayed with the Interise for three more years. The organization works with women- and minority-owned small business owners and helps them grow their companies. I helped the organization scale from two sites in Massachusetts to 32 sites around the country. I managed Interise’s evaluation, development, and training/learning departments. After Interise, I attended the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and earned an MPP in 2013. This past summer I joined the Port Authority of NY & NJ in their Leadership Fellows program, a two-year fast-track rotational management program.

How were you involved with the Center for Community Partnerships?

I was the Elderly Services Coordinator at the Office of Community Service for my four years at Wesleyan. I also was involved with the Service Learning Center which was part of CCS when I was there.

What inspired you to work with CCP?

I was born and raised in South Florida — home to lots of senior citizens — and volunteered weekly with two home-bound seniors when I was in high school. After transitioning to Wesleyan, I realized that I missed interacting with the elderly and wanted to get involved in the local Middletown community. I quickly realized that most students preferred working with young children over senior citizens. From my freshman year, my goal was to expose as many Wes students as possible to the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of the elderly.

Do you believe that your work with Wesleyan’s CCP impacted your education or your future career choice? If so, how?

My work with CCP definitely impacted both my education and future career choices. My engagement with Middletown senior citizens inspired me to learn more about service learning and I enrolled in two service learning courses while at Wes (an education seminar on the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act on middle-level education and Rob Rosenthal’s Community Research Seminar). From these combined experiences, I realized that — although I enjoy volunteering and being part of a community — I yearned for bigger impact. I looked for jobs that would allow me to influence social sector policies.

What advice do you have for any students who are thinking about getting involved with CCP?

Do it! It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, both fellow volunteers from Wes as well as local Middletown residents. CCS offers so many different types of volunteer options, both in terms of breadth of service areas as well as levels of commitment. Try out a few options and see what clicks for you.

Any last words?

Remember that you’re a resident of Middletown as much as a student at Wesleyan for your four years of college. Don’t be afraid to become a part of the larger community and engage in Middletown life. It has the potential to enhance your college experience. Also, before you start a new volunteer program, make sure you thoroughly research existing options (at Wes and in the community). It’s counter-productive to start competing programs that divide limited resources. Sometimes partnerships and cooperation produce better results.

 

Jelisa Adair

I am the Civic Engagement Fellow for 2013-2014. While a student at Wesleyan I double majored in Psychology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and completed a joint thesis during my senior year. I am interested in issues of social justice, mental health, media, and global welfare. 

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