What is your life’s purpose?
Using the sport of rowing to change lives.
How are you living your purpose?
I run Recovery on Water (ROW) a rowing team for patients and survivors of breast cancer. I coach rowing but also fundraise for the organization so that this sport is available for anyone that needs it. The program is focused on increasing exercise frequency for survivors to help keep cancer at bay. Research shows that regular exercise can reduce cancer recurrence by up to 50%. ROW provides exercise but it also provides support in a non-traditional way. There’s a camaraderie amongst team members because of the shared experience of having been diagnosed with breast cancer. Together they work to move forward with their lives and grow strong.
How did you find your purpose?
I discovered that exercise was beneficial for survivors while rowing at Michigan State and volunteering with a program called WeCanRow. I later moved to Chicago and was looking for a similar volunteer experience, only to find that Chicago didn’t have a team for survivors—yet! I met Sue Ann Glaser, a survivor who was looking to get active after her treatment, and the rest is history. We met ten years ago and started to formulate the mission and vision for Recovery on Water.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Find something you’re passionate about, ask for help, and fake it till you make it.
What resources do you recommend?
The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fund-Raising by Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey Walker
Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do by Wallace Nichols and Céline Cousteau
Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant
Jenn rowed at Michigan State University and began coaching for Ignatius Chicago Crew (ICC) in 2006. Jenn is US Rowing Level II certified coach and RYT200 yoga instructor. In recognition of her achievements as the Founder and Coach of ROW®, Jenn was honored in November of 2009 as the Athena Foundation Chicago Young Professional Award recipient, and in 2010 she received Today’s Chicago Woman’s INSPIRED Award. In 2011 US Rowing recognized Jenn as the Masters Coach of the Year and in 2014 she was awarded the Spartan Innovator Award by the Michigan State Chicago Alumni Association. Most recently, Jenn was recognized in 2016 by Lakeview High School with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
In the summer of 2012, Jenn rowed the 1,500-mile perimeter of Lake Michigan raising over $150,000 to buy boats and equipment for the team.
Jenn joined the the ROW® staff as Executive Director in 2012 and brings her nonprofit background and coaching experience to manage the coaches, budget, assess programs and run the organization with the guidance of the Board Chair and Board of Directors.
Jenn sits on the Advisory Board for Girls in the Game and the Board of Directors for South Side Community Rowing. Jenn likes starboard side, handstands, running marathons, eating hot wings (not at the same time) and kicking cancer’s butt–one rower at a time.