Conversations: EPISODE 9

Jennifer Granger – A Life of Giving Through Philanthropy

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May 18, 2020

“Everybody has empathy but not everyone has the courage to show it. If everyone shows it, we can make our community, our country, and our world a better place.”


For this episode of Conversations, I pushed myself a bit to leave my comfort zone. 

Today’s episode is with Jennifer Granger, who I recently met back at the start of the school year when our daughters became friends. 

The minute I heard Jennifer’s story, I knew I wanted to learn more about her. 

Jennifer was adopted to a caring family but one that she would describe as economically and emotionally unstable. 

She grew up in a small town in Connecticut that would not allow her to be a volunteer firefighter because she was a woman. 

From Trumbull, CT, Jennifer went on to live in cities across the United States including San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Sacramento, and finally metro Detroit, which is where we met. 

Jennifer’s superpower is her ability to connect people of all backgrounds. 

This has led her to a life of giving through philanthropy.

And let me just state for the record that I practiced saying the word philanthropy so many times before this interview yet I still got it wrong. 

Now let’s hear more about our guest. 

Jennifer Granger began her philanthropic work while living in New York City, where she joined her first nonprofit, the Junior League, an organization dedicated to social change in communities. Her passion for charitable work quickly expanded to multiple organizations in the New York area, including the Pajama Program, a nonprofit that provides new pajamas and books to children in foster care. From the Pajama Program, she was inspired to co-create a new nonprofit, Spirit of Hope, where they helped provide scholarships to kids in the foster care system.

Jennifer moved to Sacramento, CA, in 2013 and continued her passion for philanthropy by helping and advocating for dozens of charities and nonprofits, including Sacramento Children’s Home, Make-A-Wish, City Year, Salvation Army, Crocker Museum, and Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center. Her work was honored many times, earning her multiple awards in the Sacramento area, including the City Year Ripple of Hope Award and an award from the Broadway Musical Gala.

Jennifer and her family moved to metro Detroit in 2017. 

While you’d think Jennifer would push on the brake pedal to adjust to her new city, she actually pressed on the gas and now dedicates her time with organizations such as Gleaner’s Community Food Bank, the Detroit Music Hall, and Empowerment Plan, Fashion by Philanthropy, Humble Design, Lighthouse, Starfish Family Services, Beyond Basics, and still finds the time to serve on the governor’s task force on women in sports in Michigan

Jennifer was recently honored by The Community House and awarded the “Pillar of Vibrancy” for her work in philanthropy and education. 

Jennifer lives by this quote: “Everybody has empathy but not everyone has the courage to show it. If everyone shows it, we can make our community, our country, and our world a better place.” 

In preparing for this interview, I asked some of Jennifer’s friends for background information and one told me (and I quote) “Jennifer would give the shirt off her back to help someone. Come to think of it, she literally has given her shirt off her back.”

While this interview just scratches the surface of Jennifer’s work over the past decade, it introduces us to someone who at a young age wouldn’t accept no for an answer and has put this tenacity to good use by dedicating her life to helping others. 

Now…there is just one more thing that I want to mention before we get going. Although Jennifer is an avid Detroit Tiger’s fan, at the very end of this interview, we briefly talk about the 1986 Mets – the team she loved growing up. We talk a bit about game 6 and the miraculous victory by the Mets. I could not for the life of me remember which NY Mets player hit the final pitch, who scored the winning run, and the name of the Red Sox player who made the infamous error at 1st base. So of course I want to state that now. 

Game 6 of the 1986 World Series ended after Mookie Wilson hit a dribbler that went through the legs of Bill Buckner, which allowed Ray Knight to score from third and gave the Met’s the victory. 

The Met’s go on to win Game 7 and become the World Series Champs. 

So like the Mets comeback of 1986, let’s listen to another comeback story. 

Without further ado, here is my wide-ranging conversation with Jennifer Granger.


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