Where it Started
When Jessica was nine years old, she wanted to be Phil Donahue. If you don’t know who that is, ask your parents (or grandparents!). When she was 16, she hosted a radio show for teens on WDIY FM, which was her local NPR affiliate. From there, she studied at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where she earned her bachelor and master degrees. During college, Jessica spent part of her junior year reporting at WKYT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky. In graduate school, she served as the Washington Correspondent for both WCAX-TV, the CBS affiliate in Burlington, Vermont and the Spartanburg Herald Journal based in South Carolina.
After graduate school, Jessica had an opportunity to take an intensive course in Social Entrepreneurship at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and represented the United States on two occasions at the ROI International Summit. She is one of the youngest people in the country to be named a regional finalist for the White House Fellows Program, the nation’s most prestigious program for leadership and commitment to public service.
Life in TV News
After she graduated from Medill, Jessica worked as a news anchor and reporter at different stations across the country and covered everything from breaking news, politics on Capitol Hill and wrongful conviction cases to sports, food and Fashion Week. She is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and produced and hosted a documentary on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Her film, Passing the Torch, debuted in New York City.
Jessica Abo TV (JaboTV)
In 2010, Jessica was working at NY1 when a student at Rutgers University became the victim of cyber-bullying. Tyler Clementi’s roommate set up a webcam and captured him kissing another man and shared that content online. At just 18 years old, Tyler ended his life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Jessica reported on the trial that followed, and every time she sat behind the anchor desk, she felt she had to do something to help teens who are hurting.
She started a production company, and the first thing she launched was a YouTube channel called JABOTV to empower kids, teenagers and college students. In her year-long “Open Up Wednesday” series, she asked celebrity guests how they turned an OUW™ (pronounced: ow!) moment into a POUWER™ story. She developed an Ambassador Program, which enabled her to mentor teens across the U.S. Her channel was featured in FORBES and on "The Meredith Vieira Show" and she was asked to speak about her content at the United Nations. Those videos caught the attention of Entrepreneur magazine, and Jessica has been a contributor there ever since.
Jessica has received several awards for her commitment to philanthropy and anti-bullying work. During the George W. Bush Administration, she was one of the youngest people in the country to be named a regional finalist to the White House Fellows Program, the nation’s most prestigious program for leadership and commitment to public service. Her TEDx Talk “BEE THE CHANGE” has been incorporated into college curriculums in the United States and abroad. Jessica’s passion for making a difference started early in life. Over the years, she’s spearheaded several initiatives, including the following:
- When she was 16, she organized a fundraiser to help the first black family known to have sextuplets in the United States. Through her efforts, Jessica helped the family receive a home, van and free college tuition for the babies -- who are now adults.
- In 2002, Jessica ran the Chicago Marathon in memory of Jarrett Mynear, a 13-year-old boy who died of cancer. She also started “The NU Joy Cart,” in Jarrett’s memory, which brought toys to children in the hospital.
- Following the 2004 tsunami, Jessica organized a benefit to raise money for the survivors. The event raised $20,000, which helped pay for a new water purification system in a village with no clean water, outside of Phuket.
- In 2008, Jessica started a movement called “Team Dylan” in honor of Dylan Rabinovich. Dylan is living with a rare genetic disease called Emanuel Syndrome. Jessica organized a black-tie gala called “The Don’t Stop Believing Benefit” to support Chromosome 22 Central, the only non-profit dedicated to helping children with rare chromosome disorders – and their families. Jessica also ran the New York City Marathon to raise awareness about C22C.
- In 2010, Jessica met a Haitian cab driver named Emanuel. Jessica was trying to find out how she could help those who survived the earthquake and Emanuel shared that his family and friends needed clothes. Jessica organized, “A Happy Hour for Haiti,” which collected thousands of t-shirts for those in need.
- In 2012, Jessica put together a black-tie gala to support the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. Actress Kelly Rutherford hosted the event, which attracted more than 600 guests and raised more than $250,000 in donations. To promote the cause, Jessica produced a celebrity music video with the Mayor of NYC, several athletes, movie stars, and fashion designers. The event helped clear thousands of swab kits waiting to be added to the international bone marrow registry. To date, more than 50 kits turned out to be the perfect match for cancer patients in need of a bone marrow transplant.
Jessica lectures around the country on a variety of journalism and philanthropy-related topics.
- She spent 2014 traveling across America speaking to teenagers as United Synagogue Youth’s first-ever Danny Siegel Changemaker in Residence.
- She spent 2015 and 2016 on a college campus speaking tour talking about why affluence is not a requirement for influence.
- Jessica spent 2017 serving as Jewish National Fund’s National Spokeswoman for Professional Women Under 40.
- Currently, she speaks around the country to JNF, UJA, and Federation groups. She chaired UJA Federation’s Young Entertainment Committee in New York City, sat on the Broadcast, Cable and Film Committee for several years.
- The Jewish Week
- “36 Under 36”
- Jewish People’s Choice Awards
- Voice of Influence Award
- Jewish International Connection New York
- Recipient of Dedication to Jewish Life Award
- White House Fellows Program
- Regional Finalist for the nation’s most prestigious leadership and public service program
- National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Seigenthaler Excellence in Journalism Award
- Winner of Local Television category: “Dads” (Burlington, Vt.)
- Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards
- National first place winner in Television Feature category: “Wrongfully Convicted” (Chicago)
- Regional first place winner in Print General News Reporting: “Bill Aims to Address DNA Case Backlog” (D.C.)
- National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Donald M. Ephraim Family Foundation Scholarship
- Award given to one student in the Chicago/Midwest Chapter
TV and Movie Cameos
Jessica is a member of The Screen Actors Guild and has been featured in several films and television shows including: Gossip Girl, Nurse Jackie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Delivery Man and Girl Most Likely.
Unfiltered: How to Be as Happy as You Look on Social Media
In 2018, Jessica published her first book. She has spent the past three years talking about how we can have a healthier relationship with social media and not fall into the compare-and-despair trap when we scroll online. Jessica’s book has been translated and published in several countries. To celebrate her book launch, Jessica produced a fashion show at New York Fashion Week, where the models were the men and women she featured in her book.
Today, Jessica is a busy wife and mom who loves to spend time with her family and running her media training and PR business. Jessica’s client roster includes physicians, psychologists, CEOs, someone serving the Biden Administration, a teenager competing on American Ninja Warrior, small business owners, authors, celebrities, and philanthropists.