Curious about the faces working behind-the-scenes at CoEd? Well, allow us to introduce one of our long-time staffers in the Cincinnati office, Jessica Stieritz! Jessica joined our Guatemala-loving team back in 2002 when CoEd was just a little tyke.
Now, 20 years later, Jessica has seen CoEd grow to reach more than 260,000 students in Guatemala, traveled to Guatemala 19 times as a tour guide, and oh—have we mentioned she’s also raising four awesome kids with her husband, Tony?
So, today, we wanted to sit down and chat with Jessica about her time here at CoEd. She shared with us some of her favorite CoEd moments, how CoEd has changed over the years, and even who she would switch jobs with if given a chance.
Q: How does it feel to reach 20 years at CoEd?
A: “I never planned to leave CoEd, but I also never thought I would be here this long if that makes sense. I just kind of take every day and year as it comes, and CoEd has always been the right fit for me personally and for my family life. It’s nice to be such a long-term employee with some of the organization’s historical knowledge.”
Q: Is where CoEd is now as an organization as you expected it to be?
A: “The success that we’ve had is not a surprise to me because we operate on really sound developmental principles in terms of international development, and we just have really, really good people working for the organization.
Good things just seem to happen to this organization. And when we feel like something is going wrong—like we don’t get an important grant—all of a sudden, something else comes about. It’s through hard work, but at the same time, there have just been some really amazing connections…It’s just a little bit freaky how things fall into place for us. And because of that, I’ve never doubted that we could be as successful as we are in the work that we’re doing.”
Q: What is your role here at CoEd?
A: “My title is Liaison to Rotary International. I manage CoEd’s relationship with Rotary, which includes assisting Rotary clubs with Rotary’s matching grant program…It’s very time intensive, and it kind of requires a special knowledge and skillset that I’ve developed over the years. The key to successful fundraising is relationships. People don’t give to organizations; they give to people.”
Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?
A: “I would say the relationships with the Rotarians. I truly appreciate the long-term friendships that I’ve created with these donors, who continue to inspire me.”
Q: If you could trade jobs with anyone else in the office, who would it be and why?
A: “I think I would do Jaclyn’s job because she seems to get to do a lot. Like, she seems to get a lot of variety because she’s doing event planning with Fall Fiesta, she’s managing the mail and incoming donations, and she’s making arrangements for the board meetings. I think I really should have been an executive assistant, or something. That’s what I’m really good at, and that’s kind of what Jaclyn is doing.”
Q: What is your favorite CoEd moment?
A: “I would say meeting the scholarship student my family sponsored. She graduated during COVID, so we couldn’t go on her graduation tour. But it’s really amazing to know that as a family, we’re supporting this individual and making a huge difference in her life.”