Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Jenn Bauer
From student and research assistant to staff member and adjunct instructor, Jenn Bauer has held almost every role possible at Penn State. And now—as a Women’s Philanthropy Advisory Board member—she is using her experience to engage volunteers in new ways and design creative philanthropic opportunities.
“As an instructor, I work directly with students and get to appreciate how difficult college is right now. They’re juggling so many more responsibilities than I had even a short decade ago, problems I wouldn’t have imagined would occur on our campus—like food insecurity and homelessness, in addition to being unable to keep up with necessary expenses,” Bauer, Bus ’10, said.
After benefiting greatly from philanthropy as a student herself, Bauer worked in the Office of University Development as a Marketing Analyst in Development Communications until mid-2017 when she started her own wellness consulting business, pursuing yoga and fitness education full-time. Currently, she also teaches an introductory yoga course in the Kinesiology Department.
“Wellness—including physical, mental, and emotional health—is hard to focus on when you’re worried about grades, your living situation, where you might get your next meal, and ultimately how you’ll begin to pay back your loans, and I’ve seen the toll that stress takes on our students,” Bauer said. “Being able to give support directly where it’s needed is something Penn State offers widely, and I appreciate that we can see—and often meet!—specifically who we’re helping.”
In the midst of her career transition from Development, Bauer was still working on freelance projects with the office, including one to craft a survey of women’s philanthropic engagement to help inform the creation of a new committee.
Little did she know that the results of this survey would help inform the creation of the Women’s Philanthropic Advisory Board (WPAB) in 2019, which she would ultimately be invited to serve on.
“Inclusion and diversity are high on my list of passions, and it was clear that I wanted to be involved beyond just helping with the short-term project,” Bauer said. “I was eager to join in and gladly accepted an invitation to be a part of this great work.”
Since joining the WPAB, Bauer has contributed her time and talent to create a website for the advisory board to help share content that is relevant to Penn State volunteers, staff, and donors. She has also offered to curate, create, and share wellness tools with fellow volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a small example, but the feedback received from the yoga classes I recorded and the other information we sent out has been positive and a good reminder that we don’t have to do some huge production to make a difference,” Bauer said. “Starting where we are with what we have is all that matters—taking that first step moves everyone forward.”