Who’s Who in Hartford

Jessica P. Zachs

Dignity Grows Inc.
Chair & Chief Executive Officer

Dignity Grows has been one of the most meaningful initiatives on which Jessica has ever worked. A lifelong donor to charities and long-time philanthropist, Jessica developed a deep passion for helping others at age 10, when she and her sisters began hosting carnivals to benefit Muscular Dystrophy in Queens, NY. Upon moving to Connecticut with her husband and young children, Jessica became actively involved with the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the larger community.

She is guided by the principle of Tzedakah and is an ardent believer in the Winston Churchill quote, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Jessica is inspired by the many individuals in which she has invested her volunteerism and philanthropic support.

Jessica has served on the board of directors of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford and the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation. She was a board member, vice president, co-president and co-chair of Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford, where her children attended school, and she remains active well after they graduated.

Because of her work in the Hartford community, Jessica was asked to be a member of the Young Leadership Cabinet of Jewish Federations of North America and campaign co-chair in 2001. She currently serves on the National Women’s Philanthropy Board and was co-chair of Recruitment and Engagement for the 2019 International Lion of Judah Conference. The entire Zachs family is proud to have been the first recipients of ADL’s Torch of Liberty Award.

A graduate of Cornell University, Jessica is a class officer for the University. She and her husband, Eric, have passed the values of gratitude, generosity, and Tikkun Olam to their three children. Now adults, their children have continued to make giving back a family affair and are actively engaged in Jewish non-profits in their communities.

As a professionally trained chef, Jessica loves entertaining family and friends. She is as comfortable cooking for 10 as she is for 50 or more. Her legendary meals are complemented with interesting conversations and often include dancing well into the night.

Jennifer Tolman

Dignity Grows Inc.
Chief Operating Officer

Her passion for giving back to the community has influenced both Jennifer’s professional and personal life. Dedicating her career to numerous areas of communal service, she has focused on informal education and incorporating meaningful forms of engagement.

A graduate of Boston University, Jennifer began her career at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, where she served as an educator and later as camp director. The youngest member ever appointed to the MJCCA’s Management Team, Jennifer was deeply involved in all facets of the center’s programming. She is a master educator and curriculum designer and was recognized as Atlanta’s “Teacher of the Year”. More recently, Jennifer has served as Director of Community Connections at the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and as the Creator of the “WOW!” experiential education program.

Committed to volunteerism since she was a young adult, Jennifer spent summers with the Play SAFE program for children in underserved neighborhoods, served as a guide for The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and has worked to support Alzheimer’s research and organizations providing support for individuals affected by HIV.

The mother of three spirited teen boys, Jennifer has begun to instill a passion for volunteerism in her children by fostering dogs for local rescue organizations.

Rebecca Carroll

Dignity Grows Hartford Program Coordinator

Becca has served as Hartford Chapter Program Coordinator since 2022. She brings a dynamic and creative leadership style to the Hartford Chapter and has grown Dignity Grows’ range of volunteer and community partnerships, strengthening ties across the region. Becca has a strong background in political affairs and the service industry and studied communications and urban & community studies at the University of Connecticut.

A native Yankee, Becca appreciates that Connecticut’s modest size enables high-impact and approachable volunteer opportunities for everyone. The “Stars Hollow” sense of community is put to good work throughout all four seasons! Becca is a proud New London-er, where she values a walk around the streetcar suburbs and greeting the neighborhood dogs and meandering cats.

Jerrell Starling

Program Assistant

[email protected]

Jerrell Starling was part of the Dignity Grows family for several years as a partner and mission-focused presenter before joining the staff team. He brings a rich background of advocacy and community leadership to his role as Program Assistant.
As the founder of Heroes in Training, Jerrell has decades of experience empowering young adults through physical fitness and social-emotional wellness. The organization provides youth with a uniquely heightened sense of confidence, discipline, awareness, and an obligation to serve and represent their communities in the best way possible. 
Jerrell is a sought-after public speaker and served as keynote at the Nutmeg Big Brothers/Big Sisters annual meeting. One of his proudest successes came through his relationship with Dignity Grows, as he personally connected dozens of families with much needed hygiene support while educating the teens in the households on menstrual hygiene without taboos.
Jerrell serves as a Social Emotional Learning Instructor in an urban school system, where he pioneered the “Simple Wisdom” class. He also teaches numerous fitness classes each week and is an Olympic referee and active philanthropist with USA Boxing.