Jessie Bustamante is a proud aunt, daughter, sister, wife, dog mom and individual who is always working hard for underserved communities. Jessie lives in North Scottsdale with her husband, Luis, and two puppies. Jessie and Luis met at the University of Arizona (#Beardown) and are very proud and dedicated Wildcat fans. Jessie is the Chief Advancement Officer at ACCEL, a board member for Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary, a board member for Leadership West, and a volunteer for a variety of other local groups where she enjoys infusing her mentoring, leadership, and fundraising skills.
Having lived on and off in the valley since 2006, Jessie re-settled in Arizona when she and her husband bought their first home in North Scottsdale in 2019. Jessie is originally from the northwest suburbs of Chicago but has called Arizona home since arriving for college in Tucson and says she “never looked back.”
Jessie grew up attending a conservative synagogue for Sunday and Hebrew school and shares that it was “just part of [her] routine to go from one school to another, on any given day.” Post bat-mitzvah, Jessie felt like she was really given the chance to explore Judaism on her own and her main connection to her Judaism was through her friends. During college, Jessie engaged a bit at Hillel at the UofA and says, “although I’ve always been proud to be Jewish, it’s not something that I needed a formal connection in my life to remind myself of this.”
Jessie and her husband, Luis, were part of the first Honeymoon Israel Phoenix trip that took place in 2015, which Jessie said gave them a “great way to connect with my history, culture, and for us to understand the similarities and differences in an interfaith marriage.” Now there are Jewish customs and traditions celebrated in their home and within their family, but Jessie says that it is really the life celebrations of her nieces and nephews that keep her closely aligned to Judaism.
Professionally, Jessie has been working at ACCEL, a local nonprofit organization serving the disability community, since 2019 as Chief Advancement Officer where she oversees the fundraising, marketing, community relations, communications, and anything externally related to serving the “incredible individuals who deserve the world.” From the tour she had during her first interview, Jessie says she knew this was where she was meant to be and shares she has “never felt so fulfilled” in her career.
“The best part of my job is that I’ve never worked somewhere where literally the dollar I raise today will be in someone’s hands tomorrow, in the most meaningful way possible,” shares Jessie. “I also work with the most driven, talented, and passionate individuals I’ve ever experienced and it’s an honor to serve the community of those who have severe and profound special needs.”
In February 2022, Jessie unfortunately lost her “furbaby” and 14-year companion, Cujo. She was able to take her sadness from her loss and channeled it to find ways to help other senior animals in need. In summer 2022, Jessie sought out a local dog sanctuary to pay it forward called Forever Loved Pet Sanctuary. She soon became a regular volunteer helping to walk the dogs, clean up inside the Sanctuary, transport dogs wherever needed, and Jessie now serves as a board member for the organization.
“I do all of this in honor of the one who taught me unconditional love, my Australian Shepherd, Cujo. The best part is that my mom, Rochelle, and I now volunteer together. Cujo probably loved his Bubbe Rochelle more than anyone so now he can be proud of both of us,” shares Jessie.
When Jessie is not volunteering, working, or spending time with her husband or two puppies, Hope and Hulk, you will find her traveling to visit family.
“I am very fortunate to be the ‘Tia’ or aunt of 12 incredible nieces and nephews around the country,” Jessie shares. “They truly bring me so much joy and the love that we all have for one another is like nothing else. It’s so fun to see them grow up into little humans and impress me with their talents. To me, family is everything.”
In September 2022, Jessie lost her beloved paternal grandmother who she describes as lving a life through rose colored glasses. Jessie says she now “fully understands that she chose how she wanted to see the world and she chose the world she wanted to live in.” Jessie shares that her grandmother’s outlook will forever inspire her to live “life to the fullest, see everything and everyone in the best light, and be the best version of me I can be.”
“I have had four incredible grandparents show me the true meaning of life and I hope they are smiling down in heaven when they see their Jewish granddaughter not letting anything get in my way of living my best life, surrounded by love, and truly happy,” shares Jessie.
As an experienced fundraiser, Jessie has learned not to take things personally and shares that if every “no” she heard set her back, she’d never move forward. Jessie continued to share that this outlook has been helpful in her life both personally and professionally, and when she sees something that doesn’t feel or seem right, she dives in to see what she can do.
“Whether in marriage, personally, or professionally, I don’t want to go to bed upset for any reason. Therefore, I will address elephants in the room head-on and/or figure out what’s going on so that everyone can go on with their day,” explains Jessie. “Life is too short to fret the small stuff. Buy the shoes, take the trip & live with gratitude.”
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