Coworker Corner: Jenny Giudici

Coworker Corner: Jenny Giudici

It’s difficult to imagine the Advancement department without Jenny Giudici coming to mind. After all, she has been part of the Mercy Home family for nearly 12 years.

“I first heard about Mercy Home from my friend Natalie Giglio, who was a MercyWorker,” Jenny explained. “She’s a friend from college. She was a year ahead of me and she said, ‘hey, there’s this really great place that I’m working at. You should check it out.’ And it was Mercy Home.”

Jenny’s first position at Mercy Home was as a features writer in communications. Her duties included putting out Home Notes, writing articles about our kids for the web and several print publications, and being the agency photographer, as well as acting as the liaison between advancement and youth programs.

The best part of that job, Jenny said, was working with the kids.

“I got to be the “fun aunt”—when I was doing a story on one of them, I would pick them up from school and I’d come with snacks and it was like, hey, Jenny’s here,” she said. “We’re going to hang out and have fun.”

But after several years in communications, Jenny was ready to try something new. Her supervisor at the time, Director of Communications Mark Schmeltzer, asked Jenny what she was most interested in. She said special events.

“Mark’s a really great manager and he was always trying to find ways for me to advance my career,” she said.

Jenny had helped out with special events during her time with communications and enjoyed being at the different events around the Home. So when an opening came up in special events, and with Mark’s encouragement, Jenny knew she had to apply. In 2012, she was hired as the coordinator of special events by the then special events director Mary Anne Leonard and relished the opportunity to work under her.

Mark’s a really great manager and he was always trying to find ways for me to advance my career.

Jenny had helped out with special events during her time with communications and enjoyed being at the different events around the Home. So when an opening came up in special events, and with Mark’s encouragement, Jenny knew she had to apply. In 2012, she was hired as the coordinator of special events by the then special events director Mary Anne Leonard and relished the opportunity to work under her.

“Mary Anne is a phenomenal woman,” she said. “I don’t know how she does it all. She taught me everything I know about event planning.”

When Mary Anne moved into her current role as Fr. Scott Donahue’s assistant, Jenny was promoted to manager of special events. After a year, when Joe Wronka became the vice president of advancement, Jenny was promoted again to director of special events, a position she’s been in ever since. She also added on the role of director of volunteer relations about a year and a half after that.

As the director of special events and volunteer relations, Jenny oversees all of Mercy Home’s internal events and plans all of the external fundraising events. Additionally, she recruits volunteers for events and other volunteer opportunities around the Agency, as well overseeing the Christmas gift program for the kids.

“My favorite events are the ones that we get to plan for the kids,” she said. “I love Christmas and Thanksgiving and the talent show and Easter. Even though my team plans the events, I still go to them because it’s always fun to spend time with the kids.”

Other standout events include the 2019 Ringside for Mercy’s Sake, where over $1 million in gross revenue was raised, and the first year of Have Mercy! at Wintrust, because she got to build the event over in her own way.

“It was really cool to see the entire event come together from start to finish,” she said.

My favorite events are the ones that we get to plan for the kids. I love Christmas and Thanksgiving and the talent show and Easter. Even though my team plans the events, I still go to them because it’s always fun to spend time with the kids.

And though Jenny has thoroughly enjoyed her time at Mercy Home, there are changes on the horizon. She is planning on returning to her hometown of St. Louis to work at her family’s business that was started 75 years ago by her great-grandfather. In her new role, she will be the manager of employee experience, so she will be handling employee recruitment, retention, and engagement.

“It’s kind of similar to what I’m doing now,” she explained. “The events are just a littler smaller.”

The change is bittersweet for Jenny as she prepares to leave her hometown and job.

“I’m really excited to go home and be near my family and friends there,” she said. “But I’m very sad to be leaving Chicago and Mercy Home and all the family and friends I’ve made here.”

And even though she will be leaving Mercy Home, she has nothing but positive things to say about her experience here.

“Event planning is really stressful,” she said. “But at the end of the day, when you’re getting ready to leave and walk into the building where the kids live, it’s like, oh, that’s why I’m doing this. We’re ultimately raising money to better these kids’ lives. What better reason is there than that?”

Jenny added that she has consistently enjoyed working with all of the coworkers she has met over the years.

“The people here are great,” she said. “Everybody’s here because they’re working for the same mission, which fosters a lot of positive interactions and teamwork. Mercy Day is one of my favorite days of the year because everybody gets together and is in a non-stressful environment.”

And as she reflects on her time here, she easily lists a number of coworkers who have positively impacted her life and career path.

“There’s a lot of people here that have made my growth possible,” she said. “It’s a great place to work, especially to start a career, because everybody’s really rooting for you. I would have to say props to all my past supervisors, Mark Schmeltzer, Mary Anne Leonard, Joe Wronka, Mimi LeClair, Holly Allen, and Jim Marrese, for all believing in me and pushing me.”

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