Headshot of Jessie Cronan

Jessie Cronan

Senior Director of the CVI Center

About

Jessie is the Senior Director of the CVI Center at Perkins and is an experienced nonprofit leader who has worked extensively with both international and domestic nonprofits. A graduate of Princeton University and the Harvard Kennedy School, Jessie began her career as a Princeton in Africa Fellow with the Tanzanian Children’s Fund. That experience sparked a love of international work and led to her subsequent decision to focus on international opportunities both during and after graduate school.

Jessie worked with the Aceh Women’s League in Indonesia and with Technoserve in Swaziland, before starting at Gardens for Health International (GHI) in Rwanda. Over the course of 5 years, Jessie led GHI through a period of exponential growth. As GHI’s first Executive Director, Jessie grew the fledgling organization from a team of 12 with a budget of less than $200K, serving the mothers of malnourished children across 3 government health centers, to a substantial organization with a leading voice in Rwandan national policy. At the end of Jessie’s tenure GHI’s staff had grown to over 100 and the annual budget was $1.5M. The program supported an entire district, and GHI’s nutrition education materials were adopted as the national standard and shared throughout Rwanda. Under Jessie’s leadership GHI was recognized by the Clinton Foundation, Echoing Green, the Walden Woods Foundation, and more, and received multiple awards and commendations. GHI continues to be a leader in the field of agriculture and nutrition.

Following her time with Gardens for Health, Jessie switched to focus on local challenges. She spent 3 years leading Social Venture Partners Boston, (SVP) a Boston-based Venture Philanthropy Fund that invests in high potential local nonprofits and provides both the capital and the consulting support to help them grow. At SVP Jessie focused on introducing a racial equity lens to the more conventional Venture Philanthropy approach, launching a Racial Equity Track to invest in early-stage nonprofits led by people of color, and designing programs (such as grant writing and budgeting workshops) for that cohort. Too often high potential organizations led by people of color fail because they don’t have access to capital – under Jessie’s leadership SVP took major steps to challenge that status quo. Jessie also sits on the Board of Strategies for Youth, a Boston-based nonprofit that works to reduce arrest rates of minors by bridging the divide between police officers and youth.

Jessie is excited to take on the challenge of Cortical / Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) and is honored to join such an illustrious team. She looks forward to seeing what the future holds for the leading cause of childhood blindness and is excited at the opportunity to help drive meaningful change at scale.