Fundraising Profile: Jason Jenkins

photo of Advancement employee

Jason Jenkins, Director of Regional Advancement, Midwest

“I found her. I found your roommate’s daughter.”

Jason Jenkins, Director of Regional Advancement for the Midwest, said uttering those words to a Boston-based alumna who had been trying for decades to reconnect with her former roommate ranks among the highlights of his career. Those words and the story that caused them also serve as daily motivation and inspiration for his work. 

Jason is a fundraiser, and so much more. He identifies passions and cultivates relationships that lead to gifts – large and small – all of which benefit Ohio State’s people and the institution’s legacy.

One alumnus in Cleveland recently made a gift in the name of a dean who made it possible for him to graduate. After his freshman year, this Buckeye was in danger of failing out, but the dean suspected there might be a learning disability causing the academic struggles. After taking classes that accommodated his dyslexia, the alumnus, who is now a successful investment banker, excelled at Ohio State. He showed his gratitude through a scholarship in the dean’s name that benefits students with learning disabilities.

“I’m a relationship builder,” Jason says. “I tell our alumni and friends that I want to identify their passion and relate that to the university. I build relationships across the university. It can be about connections and helping students find internships and jobs. It can be about sharing expectations.”

“The sky is literally the limit to the creativity in building that relationship. Ohio State is a smorgasbord of opportunity.”

Back to the Ohio State alumna in Boston. She had kept a pearl necklace that her former roommate had left behind since they graduated together roughly 50 years earlier. She wanted to return it, but her roommate had returned to her home country in Asia and they lost touch.

With just names and few minor details to work with, Jason found out that the woman’s roommate had worked a successful career in Canada before passing away years earlier. She did have a daughter and while her personal details were scarce, Jason found contact information for the daughter’s husband. Jason sent the husband an email explaining the situation, but the story sounded so odd that he didn’t share it with his wife until months later. She confirmed that her mother had, in fact, attended Ohio State and she was thrilled to be able to get her necklace back.

The alumna mailed the necklace to her roommate’s daughter, who was so moved that her family ended up making a small gift to Ohio State.

“It’s not always about big dollar amounts,” Jason says. “It’s about those connections, those moments like when I called the alumna in Boston who was in her 70s and said, ‘I found her. I found your roommate’s daughter.”

Stronger alumni relationships with their fellow Buckeyes. Deeper connections to their alma mater. Jason Jenkins make those things happen every day at Ohio State.