Jerri L. Rosen's Story
In 1990, I was President of J.L. Rosen & Company, blending 25+ years of marketing communications experience in developing results-oriented planned giving and development programs for nonprofit organizations. At the same time, I started my ad agency, five friends and I found ourselves disturbed by the growing statistics of domestic violence. The group set out on a mission to help.
Intending to host a one-time-only event, we held the first-ever “Day of Self-Esteem™,” which served 67 women from six shelters. The event became the launching pad for Working Wardrobes. In 1995, the organization received official nonprofit status and in 2000 I was hired on as the Executive Director and Founder.
I became CEO and let my organization through some challenges, focusing always on helping thousands of men, women, veterans and young adults each year re-enter the workforce with career development services and professional wardrobing. In 2012, the work expanded with the addition of VetNet, a safety net for veterans, who are offered full wraparound services to transition into the civilian workforce.
In a nod to my entrepreneurial spirit, Working Wardrobes operates many successful social enterprises including two upscale resale boutiques and two outlet shops, which account for more than 35% of the organization’s budget. The shops have a very small paid staff and a team of volunteers who support the sales and customer service values that are so important to retail success.
For my ongoing dedication to the community, I have been recognized by civic leaders, government officials, and organizations at the national, state, and community levels. As the host of an award-winning cable TV show about Working Wardrobes, I leveraged my expertise in advertising, sales, marketing, and public relations. I am an effective and entertaining presenter and I speak to many corporate and community groups in my ongoing effort to build awareness of the Working Wardrobes mission in our community.
I was more than ready to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Working Wardrobes in 2020 when the organization experienced a devasting loss – a four-alarm fire destroyed everything they owned in a leased 26,000 building. This time it was the Orange County community that provided support to Working Wardrobes and me. With outstanding financial support from the top local corporations and generous donors, along with hundreds of new donors who contributed great quality clothing, in five short months, I rebuilt my organization, during the COVID crisis that affected every single person in the world.
Working Wardrobes now has a Donation Center in Irvine and a well-appointed Career Success Center in Santa Ana. Tours are regularly scheduled and I would welcome everyone to come for a tour!
Now, in its 32 years, Working Wardrobes has served over 115,000 clients in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego counties in partnership with 50 local shelters and social service agencies. With my rebuilt organization on firm ground, I chose to retire on December 31, 2021. Not one to retire, I have created a ‘rewired’ life that is full and fun.
I took on the Chair of Executive Coaches of Orange County and am bringing my leadership and organizational skills to create a firmer foundation for the 18-year-old group. New coaches and new processes are exciting additions as the organization continues to serve nonprofit executives and emerging leaders, a very important asset in our community.
I also serve as Vice-Chair in my new community, Reata Glen, and have developed an even wider set of friends. My Board work continues with service to WISE (Women Investing in Security & Education) and The Invisible Theater in Tucson, Az. My current passport is always ready for another trip as I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the tulips in Amsterdam and the sights in Berlin this April.
A very full life of service, remarkable friendships, love, and joy.