Jenna Sauber



Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) - Bachelor of Arts, English and Journalism

How many days do you go to work and wonder, “Am I really making a difference in this world?” Well, if that’s your ultimate goal look no further than Jenna Sauber, a senior online communications associate for the UN Foundation and its Girl Up campaign. Jenna moved to Washington, D.C., in February of 2007, after living in Cincinnati, Ohio, most of her life. She started her work at the UN Foundation in March of 2008, as an online communications officer and now gets to work on tremendous campaigns for the UN Foundation like Girl Up and Nothing But Nets. When she isn’t out changing the world one donation or tweet at a time, she can be found watching hours of “The West Wing,” her favorite show ever or cooking — especially Cajun food. She also loves being at home with her parents and their dogs. (Who can blame her?) As she says, “There’s nothing like family.”

If you want something, you have to go after it from all angles.

How did you discover your current job?

I found the job posting on the Progressive Exchange listserv.

What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?

I came out to Washington, D.C., to work in advocacy communications, because I knew I still wanted to write, but I also was very interested in working for a non-profit. I actually started as an online account coordinator at a strategic communications firm that works for non-profits. After a year there, I knew I wanted to stay in online communications, but I also wanted to focus on the “client” side, so I focused on finding a non-profit that worked on issues I like -- such as women and girls and global health.

Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?

Everyone always says networking, but it’s really true. You have to make the most of every person you meet — you never know how they will help you. People that I’ve met once have put in a good word for me, and people who are friends of friends have e-mailed with me for months to check in and give guidance and push out my resume. It’s up to you though to make it happen — if you want something, you have to go after it from all angles, and you have to work on your people skills.

What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?

A typical day … at the UN Foundation, we do say sometimes there is no typical day. Our organization is involved with many issues, and we have so many opportunities that come up through our partners and the UN, that you never know what the day will bring. One day we may be prepping to be on American Idol Gives Back, another day we’re responding to the crisis in Haiti and another day we might be hosting a pep rally for teen girls with special guests like some of our advocates, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, or Nigel Barker.

In a given day, I am writing and posting Web content, preparing e-mails to our supporter list, developing strategy for online fundraising or live-tweeting an event.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

With my writing background, I love telling the story of our organization, of the people we’re helping around the world and of our supporters. Storytelling is such a key element to a non-profit’s success, so that the donor feels a connection to the issue and to the recipient of their contribution. And when you hear from a 15-year-old girl that she loves what we do and can’t wait to help girls like her in a place like Malawi or Liberia, you know you’re doing something right.

What is the most challenging part?

On the communications side, we’re always trying to think of different ways we can tell our story and spread the message of our campaigns and our work, and to come up with ways for supporters to get involved. When you have one ask that is the heart and soul of your campaign, for instance for our Nothing But Nets campaign, it’s to send a net and save a life from malaria for $10, you’re constantly on your toes thinking of ways for people -- no matter their age, no matter their location -- to support the cause. We want our issues and our campaigns to stay relevant, while knowing the goal is the same -- to send bednets to Africa to end malaria deaths.

What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?

I don’t have family here in D.C., and I don’t have any pets, so for the most part, there isn’t a reason for me to leave at 5 p.m. every day and put on a different hat. But perhaps because of that, sometimes the work-life balance can blur into evenings and weekends, especially for someone who works online, and social media is a key piece of our outreach. But I think that a lot of 20 somethings who work in my field probably experience the same thing. D.C. is a hard-working city, and when you’re enjoying what you’re doing, the sacrifice is worth it.

What is one lesson you’ve learned in your job that sticks with you?

I’d say that customer service isn’t just for those who work in retail or corporate. Customer service in non-profits means you’re responding to your supporters, getting them what they need to be a better activist for you and making them feel acknowledged. It also applies within your team at work. You’re providing a service for your teams, and it requires you to work on your people skills, and to help one another out. Being a team player is key when there are so many things going on. It really helps productivity.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?

I’m seeing more and more young women in positions of management and leadership, which was even a stark contrast to my first job. The UN Foundation is a great example of this. There are so many younger women there in leadership roles who are examples of what is possible, and I see that across non-profit organizations. In the online field, there was a time when it was all males, the hard coders, designers and programmers. As our different fields merge together -- marketing, tech and communications -- it’s important to realize that women can be all of those things, too, and they can play a leadership role -- as the head of a technology organization, or to be the lead programmer for a firm.

Who are your role models?

My mom is absolutely my role model. She started as a single mom, working shifts as a nurse, in Louisiana. Then when she remarried, and a medical condition forced her to change roles, she went back to school, and has become very successful in her field (regulatory affairs for medical devices and pharmaceuticals). She worked a lot, but it was important to her and my dad that I created good study habits early on, and followed my passion. They encouraged me to move to D.C., and they encourage me every step of the way.

I have a coworker whom I admire so much. She is cool-headed in every situation, and really knows how to evaluate something instead of diving in head first. I’ve never seen her panic, yet she knows when something could have gone better and how to recognize lessons learned. She’s a role model for so many of us at the organization. I’ve gone into her office before just to sit down and catch my breath, count to 10 and feel her “zen” of calm.

Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?

My mom had a quote taped up to our fridge for years that I still love: If you don’t like something, change it, if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

This is so true, not just in work, but in life. Attitude is everything. We all have days where we don’t want to go into the office, and little things get on our nerves. But putting a positive spin on something, or even just taking a walk and getting some coffee to clear your head can make an enormous difference on how you tackle a situation.

What type of job would you like to see featured?

I would love to see examples of young women who are freelance writers or bloggers. Journalism is such a hard industry to be in right now, and there are so many of us that are not doing exactly what we went to school for. It’s interesting to see the different paths women are taking to get to what they want, whether it’s now, or years from now.

What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?

My industry is ever-evolving, so I encourage girls to to soak up as much knowledge as they can, and to try things out, meet people and go to conferences. So much of it is reading the blogs, talking to your cohorts, learning what’s going on out there, so you can be well-rounded and knowledgeable. Even if you don’t personally use a particular tool, or have no experience doing something, if you are aware of it, you’re a step ahead.