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Jessica Evans

B.A., Judaic Studies, 2006
M.A., Judaic Studies, 2008

Director, National Institutional Giving at Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

Describe your job responsibilities:
As the Director of National Institutional Giving at ADL, I oversee a team that raises financial support from institutional donors, primarily private and family foundations. ADL uses the funds to advance its 105-year-old mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment for all.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Nonprofit development is a role that sits at the intersection of big-picture, blue-sky thinking about programmatic impact, and tactical, strategic work required to attract and secure donations. I love that my job enables me to bring these two skill sets together, and in my ten years of nonprofit experience, there has been no more rewarding place to do so than ADL. On any given day, I am afforded the opportunity to speak with prospective supporters about how their gift will help fight anti-Semitism, monitor extremists, provide anti-bias and bullying prevention training to teachers, help law enforcement manage their implicit bias, and protect civil rights for all.

Tell us about studying at the Frankel Center:

I grew up in a Catholic family in a town not far from Ann Arbor where I didn’t really know anyone Jewish or have much familiarity with Judaism. Despite being a bit of an outsider, my own interest in religion, spirituality and history led me to take a few courses through the Frankel Center in my early years on campus. When I decided to focus on Judaic Studies, the Frankel Center warmly embraced me. I was fortunate to have the added benefit of staying at the Frankel Center for my Master’s degree, which allowed me to go deeper in my studies before entering the workforce.

How did your education at the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies prepare you for your current job?
I use my Judaic Studies education every single day in my job, and have for the majority of my career. In working in a number of Jewish nonprofits over the years (including ADL, 92nd Street Y, and American Jewish World Service), I have consistently leveraged the knowledge of Jewish history and culture that I gained at U-M to advance those organizations’ missions and, in particular, to understand how aspects of Jewish identity can motivate philanthropic giving. I feel that an education from the Frankel Center provides a strong foundation for nonprofit service.

Who are some of the UM professors who inspired you?
I was extremely fortunate to have Professor Deborah Dash Moore as my advisor in college and graduate school, and learned so much from her. I also enjoyed classes with Anita Norich and Todd Endelman.

What advice would you give to students who are considering studying Judaic Studies?
Whether it’s just a single course, a minor, a major, or a graduate degree, pursuing Judaic Studies at the Frankel Center will almost certainly guarantee that you will become a more critical thinker, which is a crucial skill in today’s economy. Get to know your professors and your peers, and take advantage of the rich intellectual environment that the Frankel Center creates for its students by attending talks that take you outside your area of interest.