Marissa Jachman, 37, educates young people on how to prevent sexual assault.
Jachman grew up in Baltimore, where she went to Beth Tfiloh Congregation and attended Hebrew school at Chizuk Amuno Congregation. She moved away from home for college and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware in mass communications with a minor in leadership.
After her cousin Erin Levitas passed away, Jachman and her family sought to create a foundation that would incorporate Erin’s passion for sexual assault prevention and education. Now, she is the executive director of the Erin Levitas Foundation.
Jachman and her husband Jesse live in Washington D.C. with their two children. The family belongs to Adas Israel Congregation, and their children go to a local Jewish preschool.
What was your first job out of college?
I lived in Philadelphia, and it was a health care communications sales and engineering position. You know that little button that you push to call the nurse when you’re in a hospital bed? It’s called nurse communication. Each system is very different in how many can be on one strand of technology. I would assess places and sell the system, but also you had to build it right to their needs. It needs to work with the pager.
I was actually the first female that they had ever hired. Very male-dominated. It was a cool opportunity.
How did you get to the job you’re at now?
When [Erin] passed away, the family was talking about what she wanted her legacy to be and the work that she wanted to do in this world.
With my past of working at nonprofits and her interest in [preventing] sexual assault, sexual violence — in the nonprofit world there’s all different nonprofit angles. It spoke to me as a new mom, and on a public health level in general. I really care about people and helping to make sure that all people have access to information and to stay safe and healthy.
The family found this opportunity at the University of Maryland Law School to support a program that seemed like something Erin would really care about. They wanted to start the funding for it, but we knew it would be bigger than just one family’s project. Helping to raise money was the first start to be able to support the program at Maryland. Then it kind of kept growing and we became close with the team at Maryland and saw how much we could do. Then it became an opportunity that is now my full-time job.
What does the Erin Levitas Foundation do?
We work to prevent sexual assault with early education for young people and their families and their networks. That means including teachers, educators and professionals that work with young people.
I love speaking to our community, and that includes donors as well as community partners.
I work on the programs that we have and how we can get the information that we’re working on and that the University of Maryland Law School and School of Social Work are working on and how we can grow it to get to more communities. So, innovating in that way of creative partnerships on how we can get some more investment in this work so we can get it the financial support that it really needs.
I work with the partnerships and then the people to make sure the community is learning along the way with us. We have a team and I get to work with them on our projects.
What is the most meaningful part of your job?
Erin’s passion is at the foundation of what we do. On top of her vivacious, energy and spirit, we know we can educate young people. We can change what a young person learns early so that maybe later down the road they will make better decisions.
How would you describe your relationship with Judaism?
Family is an important aspect of our Jewish heritage. We enjoy having Shabbat dinner with our two young boys and instilling the traditions in them.
I also enjoy the tikkun olam/repair the world aspect of Judaism. And then there are special moments, like saying a blessing when you see a rainbow and caring for our neighbors.