Introducing SMART’s Next Executive Director

A Message from the SMART Reading Board of Directors

When the SMART Reading Board of Directors first learned of Chris’s upcoming retirement, we knew she’d leave big shoes to fill. Her strong leadership, strategic thinking, and trademark positivity over the last 11 years have been the key to SMART’s expanded impact for Oregon kids and financial sustainability. 

Led by the Executive Committee of the Board, we set out to conduct an inclusive, thorough and thoughtful search to find SMART’s next Executive Director. After a lengthy process and careful deliberation, we are pleased to announce the selection of SMART’s next Executive Director: Jessica Bowersox. 

In a crowded field of talented candidates, Jessica was the standout choice. With more than 11 years of experience on SMART’s Executive Leadership Team as the Communications Director and more recently, Deputy Director, she understands SMART’s work, knows the team, and is deeply committed to our mission. With continued programming changes related to the pandemic and the exciting merger with The Children’s Book Bank on the horizon, Jessica will bring continuity, stability and skilled leadership during a time of great transition — and great opportunity. 

As we prepare to say goodbye to Chris and celebrate the lasting legacy she leaves at SMART over the next several months, we simultaneously look forward to what’s to come in SMART’s next chapter when Jessica assumes her role on July 1, 2022. 

Thank you for your continued support and partnership in this incredible work together. 

A Message from Jessica Bowersox

Hello, SMART Reading Community! 

Jessica BowersoxWhen I joined SMART as Communications Director over 11 years ago, I didn’t know at the time how much the organization would completely change my life and the trajectory of my career. At SMART, I discovered a magical combination of factors: A mission that is undeniably critical, a hard-working, smart, dedicated team of staff — and beyond them, a cadre of thousands of wonderful, committed volunteers and supporters across the state who care so deeply about the children of Oregon and setting them on the path to literacy and learning success. 

To share a bit about me and my background: I am originally from North Carolina, and moved to Bend when I was in middle school. A lifelong love of reading and writing led me to University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communications where I intended to study becoming a writer, but found a great fit in strategic communications. My career began in public relations with a position at a regional boutique PR firm in Eugene, and later, with a large international PR agency in Portland. My career path steadily moved me toward the realization that I need to feel my work is improving the world and lives of those around me. I found my position with SMART Reading in 2010, and the rest is history. 

The day I found out that I’d been selected as SMART’s next Executive Director was, hands down, the most exciting and momentous of my career. This opportunity is a true honor, and one I’ll treat with great care and respect. I have had 11 wonderful years learning from Chris, and am reassured to know that she’ll be a lifelong friend as she moves into the next chapter of her life in retirement (and hopefully takes all my phone calls). 

I look forward to working with you all, to learning from you, and to all of the great work ahead to inspire a love of reading and learning in Oregon’s kids! 

Learn More About Jessica

Jessica Bowersox has been with SMART Reading since 2010 as the Communications Director, and most recently, as Deputy Director. As a member of the organization’s executive leadership team, she has played an integral role in setting strategic vision for SMART and working with staff and board leadership to fulfill that vision. 

Jessica has 17 years’ experience in public relations and integrated marketing communications within communications agencies and the nonprofit sector. In her role as Communications Director of SMART Reading, Jessica has provided marketing and public relations expertise to drive the organization’s communications strategies throughout Oregon.

Through her agency work, Jessica worked for numerous nonprofit and education organizations, as well as major brands such as Microsoft. In 2007, she won a MarCom Gold Award in media relations for her work with the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program. Jessica has served in numerous volunteer roles throughout her career, including as a founding member of the Young Leaders Collective of I Have A Dream Oregon, where she led the Marketing Committee for four years. She is a graduate of the Leadership Portland program and Social Venture Partners Portland’s Rising Leaders program. Before moving to Portland from Eugene in 2008, she completed the Leadership Eugene/Springfield program and served on the boards of directors for the HIV Alliance and American Marketing Association’s local chapter in Eugene. 

Jessica has Bachelor’s degrees in Public Relations and Magazine Journalism from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Willamette University.