Jeser joins Federation staff

PHOTO: Jewish Federation of Greater Portland Associate Campaign and Engagement Director Laura Jeser, pictured at the Federation's offices Thursday, Aug. 3. (Rockne Roll/The Jewish Review)


When Laura Jeser returned to Portland in 2022, one of the things that brought her back was the sense of inclusion and care she felt within Portland’s Jewish community. Now she plans to help more people experience that feeling as Associate Campaign and Engagement Director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
“We are delighted to welcome Laura to our professional team,” Federation President and CEO Marc Blattner said, “and we look forward to her work on the campaign and in engaging more people in Jewish life.”
Jeser’s engagement work will focus on connecting young adult and young family groups within Portland’s Jewish community with each other and with the resources of the Federation. 
“It’s finding out what will bring them in, what would be appealing, what can we do to speak to our greater community.” Jeser said. “I think that’s really important.”
She will also assist Chief Development Officer Wendy Kahn with the Federation’s Annual Campaign. 
“Laura is exactly the type of individual we want in development and engagement. Her energy and can-do spirit are delightful,” Kahn said. “I could not have asked for a better partner for myself and to work on behalf of the entire Jewish community.”
Jeser has extensive experience in non-profit development. After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in sociology, she worked with the Directors Guild, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Boy Scouts of America and Volunteers of America. She also performed as a stand-up comic during this time, a path she went on to pursue full-time before becoming a scholarship program manager with Diverse Minds Writing Challenge. This brought her to Portland where her husband, Michael Jeser z”l, worked as JFGP’s Chief Development Officer.
When Michael was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, Laura Jeser said she felt Portland’s Jewish community rally around her and her family.
“I realized what a Jewish community really means,” she said. “I grew up very secular. I didn’t grow up part of any kind of Jewish community.”
The family moved to San Diego when Michael was appointed President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County. After he died in 2021, Laura felt pulled back to Portland, taking on a development role with B’nai B’rith Camp in Portland, and joined the Federation for the opportunity to not only use her non-profit skills, but to build and enhance the community that meant so much to her. 
“I want others to feel not just the safety, but the love of the community that I have felt,” she said.
Much of her time outside of work goes to her daughter, 6-year-old Eleanore, though she does also make time for true-crime podcasts, decorating her new home and comedy, though she no longer performs. 
“I love hiking with my daughter. I love baking with my daughter,” she said.
There’s also a smaller sense of returning to community for Jeser in working with Kahn and the rest of the Federation staff, many of whom were colleagues of her husband’s.
“I just feel like I’m home,” Jeser said of her new role.


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