Meet Our Staff


Jennifer O’Brien

Senior Director & Director of Learning and Development
Hometown: Glenview, IL

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Having grown up in a family with a strong sense of social justice, Jen was called to and has always worked in the nonprofit sector. Jen serves as a Senior Director at Elevate for clients of all sizes, budgets, and issue areas. Jen is a problem solver and strategic thinker who loves to help her clients find their voice in grant writing to support important programs and progressive action. Jen has experience fundraising in higher education, early childhood education, out-of-school time programming, the arts, human and social services, immigration, health/disease, environmental education and conservation, and international development.

Outside of work with clients, Jen serves as Elevate’s first-ever Director of Learning and Development, running Elevate’s internal training program and overseeing external learning product development, like Elevate’s free monthly webinar, “How to Write Your First Grant.”

Before joining Elevate, Jen worked for over a decade for the Bringing Theory to Practice project, a national initiative in higher education focused on student civic engagement and well-being, and consulted for a small international nonprofit focused on women and children’s education and empowerment in Jordan and Palestine.

Jen earned her Master of Public Policy with a concentration in Philosophy and Social Policy and a Bachelor’s degree majoring in Psychology and Women’s Studies, both from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She also has a Certificate in Executive Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University.

Jen grew up in the suburbs of Chicago but has now lived in and around the DC metropolitan area for some time, calling both places “home.” Jen loves to cook and revels in the eclectic DC food scene when she can get out. She also enjoys watching her very active and “up with the sun!” 6-yr old son run around.

What's your favorite thing to do in DC?

Sit on the steps of the Lincoln at midnight.

What punctuation mark would you be and why?

A question mark…I’m curious about everything.

What's your favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

Well, I do it on Saturdays, but cooking a gourmet meal for friends and family. And then eating it.

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