After spending 16 years as executive director of Hillel at Kent State University, Jennifer Chestnut has transitioned into her new role of vice president for campus partnerships at Hillel International.
For Chestnut, working one-on-one with young Jewish students is a rewarding experience.
“If we want our Jewish community to be strong in the future, we need to focus on our students while they’re on campus,” Chestnut said. “I’ve been working with Jewish young people at Kent State University and the University of Akron for 16 years, many of whom have moved back to Ohio, specifically Northeast Ohio, and are now vibrant members of our community.”
Chestnut, who originally pursued a career in advertising, quickly realized that career path wasn’t for her. She instead turned to the Jewish community, and applied the skills she gained in advertising and marketing to her job at Hillel at KSU.
Now at Hillel International, Chestnut is serving as a key liaison for college campuses in the Midwest, as well as working to grow partnerships and shared responsibility between Hillel International, college and university leaders, and local Jewish community leaders. She also works to help students face and overcome issues on campus, including anti-Israel rhetoric and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
“Every day is different,” Chestnut said. “I get to work with really amazing people, including my colleagues, students, university professors and community partners. Every day I get to learn something new and different and really make a change.”
At a Glance
As a professional: Hillel International
Children: Seth, 14; Martha, 10; Jason, 7
Synagogue: Anshe Sfard Revere Road Synagogue
Noteworthy: Jennifer’s husband, Sam, is head of school at The Lippman School and former head of school at The Ratner School.