The Board of Directors of the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation is delighted to welcome native Tucsonan Jessica Emerson McCormick – who has worked in Jewish organizations, municipal government, and as a writer – as Executive Director of the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation. Jessica will start on July 1, 2021, succeeding Michelle Blumenberg,* who has served as UArizona Hillel’s top professional leader for 29 years.
Jessica was selected after a national search and competitive selection process from a strong field of Jewish leaders. Liz Kanter Groskind chaired the search committee, which included Lindsey Baker, Andrew Comrie, Rachel Kaplan, Isaac Rothschild, Zach Schawelson and Heather Wolfson.
“As we celebrate Michelle’s legacy of three decades of leadership, this is an exciting moment to welcome Jessica to the Hillel movement,” says Amy Brannock, Hillel’s board chair. “Jessica’s energetic leadership style and enthusiasm for innovative Jewish community building make her the ideal leader for our Hillel. She will make an outstanding addition to the greater Tucson Jewish community.”
Jessica currently serves as the inaugural director of the Jewish Emergent Network. In that capacity, she developed an innovative, immersive rabbinic fellowship in entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship, delivered creative justice and holiday programming to tens of thousands around the world, and knitted together a group of diverse communities and their leaders to cross-pollinate, share best practices, and maximize their fundraising ability. Prior to the Jewish Emergent Network, she served as the Communications Director at Sinai Akiba Academy in Los Angeles, and in the Community Services Department at the City of Beverly Hills. Before transitioning to the not-for-profit world, Jessica worked in business and legal affairs at a major motion picture production company, and as a journalist covering the entertainment industry. A published and award-winning fiction writer, poet, and playwright, Jessica has been a repeat visiting artist at the Brandeis-Bardin Collegiate Institute.
Jessica graduated from Antioch University with a Master of Fine Arts in writing and the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. Obsessed with stories, pie, Scotch, and working towards a better world, Jessica returns to her hometown of Tucson with her husband and three children.
“At each step of my career I’ve had an eye towards coming home to Tucson and finding a way to give back to the Jewish community that set me on my path,” Jessica said. “At the same time, my career in Jewish education and field building helped me realize that the work of my heart is to lift up the voices and spirits of the students who will lead our future. I am so excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
Jessica is eager to get to know the students: their needs, dreams and aspirations. “Whether you’re a current student, alumnus, parent, or a Tucsonan with a stake in our Jewish future,” she says, “my door is open to you. Getting to re-know Tucson will be one of the many great joys on my new path.”
*Join UArizona Hillel in celebrating Michelle Blumenberg’s three decades of Jewish leadership and student engagement at a special tribute event on May 2. Reserve your seat for the event here.