Jennifer took on the challenge of early morning news in 2010. It was the one shift she had never worked. "It always looked fun, but who wants to get up that early?" Jennifer always thought. Once she became a mom she realized there's no time for sleep anyway so why not work a schedule that allows her more time with her kids?
She's been in the business since 2000 and covering news in Rochester since 2002. She anchored the 7 PM and 11 PM news at WHEC-TV before coming to 13WHAM ABC. She's traveled from Rochester to find the local angle on some big stories including spending 3 weeks along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
The story she became a journalist to tell came in 2006. It was a news conference in Washington DC to kick-off an awareness campaign about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Jennifer was sick with CFS for five years beginning at age 16. She went from a three-sport varsity athlete to being so sick she had to be tutored at home for her junior and senior years of high school. Researchers say CFS patients experience a level of disability equal to those going through chemotherapy, have advanced stage AIDS or Muscular Dystrophy, but for years the public had little sympathy for CFS patients. A 1994 Boston Globe article about Jennifer's' battle helped take away some of the stigma. For Jennifer, seeing how information can lead to understanding and tolerance made Jennifer want to be a journalist. A story she did about a young man in the Rochester area who is struggling with CFS has been published internationally and is often used by CFS advocacy groups.
Jennifer was working on that CFS story while pregnant with her second daughter. Midway through the pregnancy Jennifer and her husband Vinnie learned the baby had a defect called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). The case was severe and the baby was given a 23% chance to survive. They researched hospitals nationwide and were relieved to find that Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong in Rochester had the specialized equipment and experienced team their baby needed. Grace was born in the fall of 2011, underwent several surgeries, spent time on a heart-lung bypass machine and went home after 72 days in the NICU. Grace was brave, fearless and always happy despite her challenges. Through TV coverage, her story inspired countless people to support Golisano Children's Hospital - a place Vinnie and Jennifer credit for saving their daughter again and again. But it wasn't meant to be. Grace passed away in February of 2013 at the age of 16 months after complications from her 5th surgery.
The community's love for Grace continues as people pledge support for the new Golisano Children's Hospital. It opened in 2015 but construction continues. Vinnie and Jennifer partnered with 13WHAM ABC to raise money for a healing garden in Grace's name which is by the children’s hospital main entrance. They partnered with Rochester-area Kiwanis Clubs for a NICU room in Grace’s name. Through speaking engagements as well as station-involved telethons and other campaigns, they’ve helped to bring in a total of about $3 million to the hospital. Many people have called Jennifer the face of the children’s hospital. While she is unable to directly help each family who needs care, she hopes sharing her family's story is a demonstration of how much she believes in the staff who work so hard every day to provide that care and believes in investing in making that care the best it can be.
Jennifer grew up outside of Boston and graduated from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Her first TV job was in Hastings, Nebraska. In her spare time there Jennifer was a volunteer firefighter.
She's now made Rochester her home and continues to volunteer. In addition to her fundraising for the hospital she is a member of Rochester Rotary and has served on the board of The Dream Factory of Rochester, The Center for Disability Rights, The Verona Street Animal Society, Inc. and CASA of Rochester/Monroe County, Inc. She’s run two half marathons and two full marathons – one of them for the Stroke Association. She also rode her bike 62.5 miles in the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure. Jennifer was selected by the Rochester Business Journal for the Forty Under 40 class of 2016. She has received awards from the Federation of Social Workers, the Adele Carlson Advocacy Award from Center for Disability Rights, the Women of Excellence Leadership in Humanity Award from The Italian American Community Center and, together with her husband, the Outstanding Commitment by Grateful Parents Award from Golisano Children's Hospital.
Priority number one for Jennifer is family time and raising her two children. She is also a mom to a dog named Bo (a Vizsla whose full name is Bo Sox), loves to hunt for a bargain and is a work-in-progress in the kitchen.