Jessi Cord: Tech Specialist for an Organization with the World’s Strongest Foundation – Love146
Written by Meg Seitz · Photography by Julia Fay
Jessi Cord is just cool – confident, calm, and collected.
She’s ‘cool’ not only in her general spirit and presence, but also in the way that she so mindfully articulates the values and footprint of her employer, Love146. Cord’s language is clear and deliberate; her messaging is on-point; all as it (and she) should be. Communicating Love146’s mission takes special care; they do important work.
For approximately 15 years, Love146 has served as an international human rights organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation through programs that support survivor care and prevention. Though their holistic and healing programs and services have transformed over the years as the organization has grown, their foundation remains strong – and that is love.
Love146 takes a humanistic approach; they share stories from youth they serve; they protect survivor identities. They consciously distribute communication pieces that are full of light, hope, and positivity in what one might assume to be some of today’s darkest spaces in the heart, mind, and soul. They consciously put the industry’s statistics on the back-burner – choosing not to allow the trauma to define the survivors.
Cord connected with Love146’s mission immediately; so much so, that when she applied for an internship with the organization four years ago, she applied for every available internship they were offering. “They actually replied back, and asked, ‘did you mean to apply to all of these?’” Cord recalls with a laugh. “And I did; I said, ‘yes, and I’m willing to learn.’” In 2013, Cord landed an internship with Love146 which took her to the organization’s New Haven, Connecticut home office.
She describes herself as ‘the intern who never left’, working her way through her internship to contract work, and then full-time employment. Today, she works as a Tech Specialist the organization’s Charlotte office, located in Hygge’s Camp Northend.
Cord’s journey to Love146 wasn’t typical. A native of High Point, North Carolina, she studied Editorial Fashion Photography and Global Studies at Appalachian State University. But, it was an internship for an anti-trafficking organization in India her senior year changed the game.
“Back when I was at App, I met a photographer at a photo convention in New York City, and he spoke about women who’d be trafficked, and I wanted to focus on that work more than photography,” she recalls. “I wanted to do more social work than fashion photography.”
She traveled to India only to find that it takes a special person to do that social work.
“I ended up designing [the organization in India’s] website when I was there, and I was kind of salty about that because I wanted to be on the front lines,” she says. “But then I realized how valuable that skill was for a small organization, and I was able to see that there’s still room for me at the table.”
What Cord experienced was the value of the behind-the-scenes work that was supporting and driving the social work that was happening on the frontlines.
When she started as an intern for Love146, she was managing communications and graphic design; today, she’s shifted into a role that manages the website’s development and databases such as Salesforce which connect people and partners from all over the world. “I cannot believe just how much I’ve shifted in my career,” she says. “They saw a lot of potential in me, and they put a lot of trust in me, and my career has taken to another direction within the same organization because of that.”
Cord’s more operational role is well-suited for the organization’s Charlotte office. In 2013, Love146’s Director of Finance re-located to Charlotte; she was the organization’s first hire and her move to the QC was just a trial run. Now, almost five years later, the Charlotte office has six (soon to be seven) full-time employees.
“The Charlotte office is Love146’s first office to exist as an operational place,” Cord explains. “We found that Charlotte and North Carolina, just in general, were attracting the behind-the-scenes, operational, data-tech-fundraising talent here.”
Though no survivor care or prevention programs operate out of Charlotte, the office continues to grow. So much so that they’ll need a fourth office in Hygge in no time. “When we first came into Hygge at the beginning of this year, we just needed room to grow that was financially-viable,” Cord shares. “We met Garrett, we saw the vision behind it, we all spoke the same language, and we just felt like [Hygge] was the right place at the right time.”
If there’s another important hallmark to Love146’s approach, it’s this – behind every number or statistic is a human with a story. And that’s the same philosophy by which the organization supports their team.
“As much as I hated the winters in New Haven, I stayed because I liked my job and I liked the people at Love146,” she states. “They’re interested in me as a human first, and then an employee; my personal well-being is at the forefront, and that’s the same for everyone who works here.”
Meet the Author: Meg Seitz is the Founder and Managing Creative Partner of toth shop, an agency with one goal: Elevate your brand’s content through powerful writing, creativity, and strategy. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor with Queens University and Founding Partner of the children’s book series, “Bea is for Business”.
She’s an English major with an MBA, so she can talk Homer’s “The Odyssey” just as well as she can talk sunk costs – though she’d much prefer the former.
Meet the photographer: Julia Murray, owner of Julia Fay Photography, feels most at home behind a camera with a story to tell on the other side. Her business began during her sophomore year of college, while majoring in radio and tv broadcasting. Now residing in Charlotte NC, she primarily shoots weddings and other local small businesses like her own. Her favorite part about her job is the connection it brings between art and people.