You Should Know … Jesse Cerrotti


Jesse Cerrotti can certainly be described as well-schooled, both in academics and in life. On the cusp of turning 31 (his birthday is in March), he has attended multiple universities and says he has “more credits than I know what to do with.”


Cerrotti grew up in Jamaica Plain, a neighborhood in Boston, attending public schools and Temple Sinai, where he celebrated his bar mitzvah in nearby Brookline, Mass.

He studied psychology with a minor in filmmaking at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, then started coursework in school psychology towards a Ph.D. at the University of Northern Colorado. He eventually left to become assistant director of the URJ Kutz Camp and study at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York City.

He developed his passion for community organizing at the OneVoice Movement, where he worked for several years, which led to his issues-based campaign work while living in New York (including an actual run for a city council seat). He currently serves as the senior director of J Camps at the JCC of Greater Baltimore. In fact, next month marks his year anniversary in the role.

He’s not the only academic in his family; his older sister, Rachael Cerrotti, is a mixed-media educator, writer and storyteller with a book and podcast, “We Share the Same Sky” (produced for the USC Shoah Foundation). Her work specifically incorporates Holocaust education; their grandmother, originally from Czechoslovakia, was a survivor, and as Cerrotti says, “was a big pillar of inspiration for our family.”

Cerrotti lives in Hampden with his blind Australian cattle dog, Grace.

Do you work with all age groups of children? Do you ever bring psychology into the mix?
Yes, our camp programs start with pre-K and go all the way through middle school, including a CIT (counselor-in-training) program. One of the highlights of managing camp is working with the best inclusion program in any Baltimore-area day camp.

Why do you think that it’s important for kids to go to camp?
Camp has the ability to bring out every individuals untapped potential. It is an environment, beyond walls, where kids can learn about nature, develop friendships naturally, explore passions they never knew they had and discover this incredible world through a safe and caring structure.

What concerns you most about children’s development, especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic?
Following years of increased isolation, I think it is our responsibility to be intentional about building socialization opportunities. There are already divides in our country and around the world that socialization helps decrease. We can’t let COVID be an added variable for diminished trust of one another. Being social is instrumental in human growth.

You ran for a city council position in Queens, N.Y. What was that like, and what was your platform?
Running for office is a grind, but it is one worthwhile for anyone who has a community they care for, listen to and can advocate on behalf of. I ran to protect the youth in my community and what they care most deeply about, such as environmental protections. The policies we put in place must support those who will be most affected by them.

How does Baltimore compare to the other cities that you have lived in?
I love Baltimore! I encourage everyone to come visit and see the boundless charm it has to offer. I hope the areas of the city that need support receive it, as the caring people from all walks of life across Baltimore are deserving of real leadership and opportunity.

What’s your favorite sport?
I grew up watching baseball games almost every night. But right now, it’s college basketball season, and March Madness is in the air!

If you could teach one class, what would it be and why?
They say teach what you know, so I would be thrilled to teach a course on experiential youth programming. I get to learn from and work with other camp leaders. I believe a lot of what camp does so well can be utilized day to day in schools, homes and everywhere in between!

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