A few years back, Jennifer Fontaine was invited to attend the Impact100 Philadelphia annual meeting by her long-time friend and Philly Chapter member, Kim Moon. “It was such a great night — I loved seeing the power of women combining their talents and funds and working together. I also loved learning about that year’s finalists — nonprofits I had not heard of before. It was inspiring.”
When Kim subsequently contacted Jennifer and shared her idea for an Impact100 South Jersey, her reply was, “Count me in!” Jennifer was among the 74 charter members in 2017.
Raised in Cherry Hill and a Haddonfield resident for the past 26 years, Jennifer and her husband are the parents of two daughters. Jennifer is an attorney who taught legal writing for 16 years at Widener University School of Law and George Washington University School of Law. For the past four years Jennirfer has been working as a private coach for students writing college essays, and law and medical school personal statements. One of her favorite parts of involvement with Impact100 has been how much she can use those same coaching, facilitating, and writing skills in committee work. Jennifer has also shared her skills volunteering with local nonprofits like UrbanPromise and Ronald MacDonald House, and with community groups in her town. She has been a member of PEO International for years and is active in a local chapter of the organization that celebrates, educates, and motivates young women by providing scholarships, grants, and loans.
Jennifer has volunteered on Impact100 SJ grant review committees for three of her four years and has co-chaired committees two of those years. She enjoys meeting women from the South Jersey area and working with them to learn about local nonprofits and the projects they propose. Involvement with Impact100 came at a time in her life when her daughters were off to college and it was time for her to do more for herself. In fact, she shared that, “I consider joining Impact100 each year to be a gift I give to myself. It’s like purchasing a membership to a club of really awesome women. There is a wonderful social aspect to membership and it is a fantastic professional development opportunity. I’m learning so much about the great work being done by nonprofits in the region, how nonprofits operate, and about grant writing. It is rewarding in so many ways.”
Jennifer was able to bring each of her daughters (now 21 and 23) to annual meetings to witness the finalists’ presentations and share in the celebration when the winner is announced. They loved it! Seeing a room full of women all working together to do good and make positive change in their community made Jennifer proud and exposed them to collective giving in action. Her daughters saw that as individuals, they too can make a difference.
When asked if she feels Impact100 membership is a part of her legacy, Jennifer replied, “Absolutely! Each grant we award is a contribution to the future of South Jersey and its residents. Being involved with Impact100 is an opportunity to do purposeful, intentional work for others.” From a personal perspective, she also came to Impact100 with an interest in grant writing. The opportunity to read and explore so many grant proposals has taught Jennifer so much about nonprofit operations and fundraising. Each year she feels she learns a great deal from other women. This is something she truly enjoys. Jennifer feels her own skills have grown and says, “The questions I ask when reviewing a proposal now are a lot different from the questions I asked during my first year because I have learned a lot along the way.”
Having made new friends and introducing some of her old friends to Impact100 has been a lot of fun. It provides another chance for them to spend quality time together doing work for an organization that has come to mean so much to Jennifer.
For fun, Jennifer is an avid reader and she and her husband Pete enjoy traveling. Among her favorite cities, she feels Barcelona was the most interesting that she visited and London is her favorite city abroad. In the U.S. she counts New Orleans at the top of the list and feels it’s like leaving the country without actually leaving the country!