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Meet Our MoMA Special Honorees: Jessica and Todd Aaron

Meet Our MoMA Special Honorees: Jessica and Todd Aaron

Todd, Nate, Willy and Jessica Aaron

This June, Willy and Nate Aaron will make their first-ever charitable donations.

They are six and nine years old.

While many elementary school students might spend their allowances on toys or ice cream, Willy and Nate’s parents, Todd and Jessica Aaron, wanted to give their sons a way to make community involvement and citizenship feel real at a young age. So, inspired by a seminar on community engagement at their sons’ school, they started a “give jar,” which their sons fill from their allowances every month.

Jessica and Todd are no strangers to community involvement. Jessica has been involved with Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) ever since she took the Community Leadership Course in 2009 and then joined the Board in 2010. She went on to become the President of the Board from 2012-2014 and Chair of the Board from 2014-2016. She continues to serve on the Board as a vice president, and she and Todd will be special honorees at this year’s CCC Celebrates at MoMA event for their dedicated support of CCC over the years.

“Service is a really important value for both of us,” Jessica says. “We are passionate about helping the most vulnerable children and families and believe it’s what we need to be doing.”

Todd is a Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Sentinel Data Centers, and the managing partner of SDC Capital, LLC, which invests in data centers and IT infrastructure. He served on the Board of the Food Bank for New York City for several years. “Food insecurity is an important issue for me,” he says, “and I really appreciate that it’s one of CCC’s key focal points.”

Jessica received a master’s in social work from Columbia University and then worked at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services and the Agenda for Children Tomorrow. She is currently the President of the Board of Directors of the New York City chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates, an organization that advocates for children in foster care in family court so that they can find safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible

She says the skills and knowledge she gained from her involvement with CCC has helped shape her work in her current role at CASA-NYC. “CCC has kept me engaged and informed, and I learned so much from other Board members, volunteers and staff,” she says. “CCC is a trailblazer in advocacy work. I’ve gotten more than I’ve given.”

As someone who has experience in direct service, Jessica explains that advocacy is crucial to ensure child well-being. “I really believe that advocacy can be more effective than direct service,” she says. “When a system is broken, it’s hard to make change, and sometimes you can end up perpetuating things you’d rather avoid.”

Advocacy, on the other hand, can raise the awareness and create the public pressure that ends up moving the needle in the policy for children and families. Todd and Jessica say it’s especially key to mobilize people in their generation with young families who have become more disconnected from traditional institutions over the years.

“When I tell people that 23,000 New York City kids are sleeping in homeless shelters, they’re horrified,” Jessica says. “They had no idea.”

When Jessica became the President of the CCC Board back in 2012, she was youngest person to ever serve as Board leadership. While the idea of leading a board as a young parent may seem overwhelming, Jessica appreciated the opportunity it gave her and her family to serve the community, and with Todd’s full support, they were able to learn more and more about the city they call home.

“This is actually a great time in a family’s life to get involved,” she says. “It’s a chance to help take care of not only your own children, but all the city’s children.”

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, , Child Welfare, Healthy, Affordable Food

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