Q&A with Jessica

Jessica O’Donnell is the Volunteer Coordinator at Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. She was born and raised in a small town outside of Yuma Arizona called Wellton and graduated from NAU with a dual degree in Public Relations and Photography.

Jessica O'Donnell

Jessica O’Donnell



How did you get started in this field?

I have always had a passion for nonprofit work and volunteering. When I graduate from NAU I had several non profit jobs in different areas (such as communication, outreach, program and development.) When I moved to Tucson I got my first volunteer coordinator position and the pieces fell into place. I find joy in helping volunteers find their perfect volunteer role.

What is one technique have you used to recruit volunteers that has worked well for you?

I find posting volunteering opportunities on different recruiting sites has been the most beneficial for our organization.

What is something that you learned that has been really helpful in your career?

That volunteers are an assist and you should really pay attention to their skill sets. If you have a volunteer who is experienced in specific areas that is where you should utilize them. This will benefit the organization and ensure the volunteer is comfortable and happy in their role.

What is your strength and what is one key advice that you would give to a volunteer manager?

I feel that I am easy to talk to. You must be open and willing to listen to the feedback volunteers give you, good and bad.

Who have been your mentors in this field?

My current supervisor Jenny Tatum has been amazing to work with.

How do you define a volunteer manager?

Volunteer managers are those who manage, recruit, lead, supervise and place volunteers to the role that suites their skill sets and that will best benefit the mission of the organization. Key skills are patients, communication, flexibility and to motivate.

What are some “other duties as assigned” that came with your position?

In-kind donation enquires, group volunteer projects and special events, posting and maintaining current volunteer openings and writing volunteer role descriptions.

Describe a memorable moment with volunteers.

Knowing that the work we do as volunteer manager is having a lasting effect on the volunteers. I recently ran into one of my old volunteers from a previous job and they remembered who I was and the volunteer experience.

How do you recharge or practice self-care after a long day of work?

I do something that makes me smile and can clear my head. I really enjoy photography and scrapbooking. After a long day I might drive to a pretty desert landscape and destress by taking pictures or sit down and work on a scrapbook or other crafts.