Board Member Interview Series

Welcome to the Next Gen Board Member Interview Series, where we highlight the diversity of talent, goals and backgrounds within the group.

Our NextGen Board is a group who leads the charge to bring events and networking opportunities to young professionals in the Fredericksburg Region. Any business that is a Chamber Member has the opportunity to send their team members who are 21-40 to our events! NextGen hosts professional development events, community service opportunities, and networking meet ups. 

Meet Board Member Jael Cooper!

Blog Photos

Blog PhotosJael Cooper is the Director of Marketing and Communication at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center and joined the NextGen Board in 2019. She is passionate about growing the opportunities we can provide for our network of young professionals. We hope you enjoy getting to know Jael! 

What does a day look like in your role?
I am usually out of the house and starting my day at the office around 8am. Despite being a morning person, I still love coffee and will usually pop into Agora’s location at the hospital for an iced mocha. Coffee in hand you’ll probably find me scrolling our social media accounts on my phone as I check on how our posts did from the day before – shameless plug! Please go follow us on Instagram at @spotsrmc, we’re doing some really fun and informative things. From there, it sounds like a pretty boring day – but I love it!- of emails, a few meetings with community members, and general planning. I’m really blessed to have a management team who supports me in coming up with creative ideas to connect with our community; it just takes some ‘dreamscapping’ and a lot of planning!

What is a goal you want to accomplish by the time you are 40?
Coming to work for Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center (SRMC) was an exciting opportunity for me to stay in my hometown, while also getting to work for an international company (SRMC is an affiliate of HCA Healthcare, which has 185 locations) with a mission I admire: Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. I could easily see myself still working for HCA Healthcare by the time I’m 40; but, as someone who likes to check things off her to do list, I tackle goals with a sense of immediacy. With that in mind, I knew that while I was working for SRMC I wanted to create some unique opportunities to get the hospital engaged with the local community and vice versa!

I am big on sharing stories as a way to connect people; so, I started sharing a monthly blog post and photos about our team members. This was such a fun way to share how each department embodies our mission while also highlighting how we are made up of local residents. It was amazing to see how so many people are passionate about caring for our local community; and, I knew I could then start planning new ways for our hospital family to connect with the greater Fredericksburg area. One fun thing I came up with, and for which I will forever be grateful to Catherine Sullivan (owner of Monkee’s of Fredericksburg) for her help, was to host a fashion show at the hospital in support of the American Heart Association. We had local women from our community show off a collection of Monkee’s spring fashions; and then, we provided a tour of our cardiovascular department while sharing heart health information. It was a great experience!

I loved that we could connect the dots between sharing health information and shaping the hospital into a positive experience. So, I had been pondering how to connect the dots between my personal passion for food access in our community with the hospital. The greater Fredericksburg area has an incredibly high number of people who are on SNAP, as well as those who qualify but are not able to easily seek additional assistance. Can you imagine coming home from surgery, trying to recover, but not having the ability to easily access the food you need? I thought it was unacceptable, and something we could easily fix.

After a ridiculous amount of research, sitting in on community meetings and finding the perfect partner in the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, I pitched the idea of the creation of a continuum of care between SRMC and the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank. It was approved; and so we’ve established the opportunity to have our case managers identify patients who are in need of food assistance, go to our in-house patient pantry (managed by the Food Bank) and collect a bag of food for that patient to take home. Our case managers hand off the bag to the patient with information to contact the Food Bank to set up an appointment should they wish to be connected with additional resources, like a list of local pantries, social services, WIC, diaper assistance if they have little ones, and so on. It is an amazing program that we launched this October and I can’t wait to see how it continues to help our patients. 

Ok, so that was a lot for the goals section! My point is that you don’t have to have one BIG goal to conquer by the time your 40. Pick things you’re passionate about, be it telling stories, fashion or food, and find a way to connect the dots! I’ve been at the hospital a little over a year now and I’m going to continue to set and achieve my goals with that mindset.  

What is your favorite community event?
We have an abundance of amazing community events! One of my favorite events is with the Friends of the Rappahannock when they host their annual river cleanup day. The Rappahannock River is such a big part of our community and the history of Fredericksburg, so it’s nice to be able to play a role in keeping that ecosystem healthy for us all to enjoy.

What is your favorite part of NextGen?
I love that NextGen has allowed me the opportunity to connect with young professionals in the community who are excited about Fredericksburg and motivated to seeing positive growth within our community.

When did you first feel like an adult?
Oh gosh, probably right after college when I had to get serious about my bills! I would love to live like a Kardashian, but the reality is you have to budget. Living in my first, incredibly rundown apartment and budgeting for food, bills, and gas, I had to get creative. It was also the first time I had to deal with things like mouse traps... not a fan.  

Where can we find you after work?
I love downtown Fredericksburg. More often than not, I’m hanging with my NextGen friends downtown!

BIO:

Jael is a Fredericksburg local currently working with Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center as the Director of Marketing and Communication. She earned her BA in English at Mary Baldwin College and her MA in Communication & Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University.  In addition to her work on the Next Gen Board, she is a board member for the Spotsylvania Education Foundation and the Ron Rossner YMCA, and is an active member of the Rappahannock Rotary as well as the Food Access Forum for Planning District 16.

 

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For more information on the Next Generation visit our Facebook Page or email Grace Draper at gdraper@rappahannockunitedway.org.