President & CEO
Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey
Location: Camden, NJ
Jennifer French has always sought ways to make a difference and help others, so it makes sense that she found her professional mission as president and chief executive officer of the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey.
French’s journey in the nonprofit sector began at an early age when a simple volunteer experience at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia opened her eyes to the importance of helping those in need. She has also hosted prom dress fashion shows, performed on telethons and volunteered at the Special Olympics. Her desire to change the world guided her choices, even during college, where she sought philanthropic affiliations rather than merely focusing on social events, her team said.
French’s connection to the Ronald McDonald House continued when she worked as an assistant to the actor playing Ronald McDonald. Through their various adventures, including hospital visits and interactions with families, French realized the impact the Ronald McDonald House had on children and their families during difficult times, helping shape her dedication to supporting families in need.
“The most important risk I took was raising my hand for consideration, countless times,” French said. “That may sound nonsensical, but too often we are raised to overthink or doubt. I joke that someday [in the far-off future, I pray] my headstone will read, ‘Right place, right time. Until now.’ But the difference between being in the right place and raising your hand to ask for the opportunity is enormous.”
French’s work took her to Spain, where she continued her philanthropic work and collaborated with the U.S. embassy to bring initiatives like “Rock the Vote” to Madrid. Her life took an unexpected turn when her child faced a medical emergency and required intensive care. During her time at the hospital, French witnessed the struggles of other families who had to travel far from home to seek medical treatment for their children. Inspired to help these families, she spearheaded the creation of the Ronald McDonald House in Madrid, raising funds and serving on its Founding Council and Board of Directors.
Under French’s guidance, the Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey has increased annual revenue from $1.75 million to over $3.3 million. French has overseen the completion of seven capital projects, including the creation of a parent gym with an adjacent kid zone, a family cinema and game room, and a workspace quiet zone. She also has spearheaded the establishment of Ronald McDonald Family Rooms in local hospitals to support both traveling and local families in need.
French was appointed to the Global Innovation Committee for Ronald McDonald House Charities, received the Chairman’s Award for Excellence in nonprofit leadership from the Non- Profit Development Center of New Jersey and was named one of the Top 21 Executives in South Jersey in 2022.
I am trilingual (English, Spanish, and Italian); have juggled around many Phil-ebrities (famous Philadelphians); have been levitated by Penn and Teller; and I love my job.