Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Jesse comes from an extraordinary line of individuals who have made huge impacts in the world and this has shaped his desire to continue his family's legacy. Jesse's paternal grandparents were both Holocaust survivors from Poland, and witnessing their struggle taught him how to work hard and be resilient in the face of adversity. Jesse comes from a long line of doctors, with his maternal grandmother being the only female to graduate from her medical class. Inspired by the impact of his family, Jesse also went to medical school intending to become a doctor. However, after a severe motorbike accident, he was unable to continue with his studies.
Jesse studied anthropology at Boston University and earned a master of arts in international administration at the University of Miami. He has worked in the private digital media sector (at VaynerMedia in New York City), consulted on impact and strategic communications for various corporations and nonprofits across Latin America, Israel, India, and Africa, and currently works in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.
Knowing that helping other people was his primary mission in life, Jesse travelled to India for several months to volunteer with Gabriel Project Mumbai - a partner organization of Sundara. When he returned to New York City, he met up with Erin, our founder, and became Sundara’s first male board member.
Being involved with Sundara allows Jesse to have a meaningful outlet to do something good in the world outside of his work and provides him with a hands-on role to continue having an impact on communities around the world, including the one he worked with in India. He is also incredibly passionate about the bottom-up approach that RISE delivers, as it puts the community “in the driver’s seat” to make their own decisions, having more control over their health, sanitation and livelihood and making the decisions that they deem right for themselves.
RISE seeks to fund and guide entrepreneurs across the world who aim to resolve water, sanitation and hygiene issues. This is particularly powerful for Jesse as it provides real opportunities for founders from diverse backgrounds to scale and sustain their social impact endeavors.
If he could share any piece of advice, it would be that “in the field of social impact, never affix yourself to a person, place, or company. Attach yourself to a mission or greater purpose. Be flexible in the ways you pursue your mission and the teams you surround yourself with to get it done. And when you are in a position of leadership, listen first, and lead with empathy. Double down on your strengths, own your weaknesses and losses, and always be your 100% authentic self.”
Understanding the importance of self-care, Jesse will plan something to look forward to when life gets tough. He has a strong sense of adventure and will try anything at least once, and tries to live every day as if it were his last.
Jesse is also an avid photographer. You can find his work at www.jesse-kornbluth.com