President / CEO
In early 2013, Elisabeth Ortiz Jackson, a licensed social worker with a Master’s Degree in Human Service Management and extensive experience in youth services, stepped off the Bridge Over Troubled Waters Board to serve as Interim Executive Director. It was a perfect fit, and the position became permanent three months later. In 2021, Elisabeth was named Chief Executive Officer of Bridge, and in 2022, she was named President.
With a long-term connection to Bridge, first as Coordinator of the agency’s front-line Medical Van service and a counselor, as a member of the Board of Directors, and then as Interim Executive Director, Elisabeth has a proven commitment to youth and strong ties to the legacy of responsive and accountable programming instilled by the agency’s founders. With her experience, expertise, and passion, she leads Bridge in taking on the many challenges that homeless and unaccompanied youth face today.
During her time at Bridge, Elisabeth has had a massive impact on both the depth and breadth of programs. Under her leadership, Bridge’s staff has doubled in size, opened our independent residence, Liberty House, launched a $50M campaign, and fundraised an additional $5M to expand housing for youth and single mothers. We remained 100% open and operational during COVID, ensuring that youth had somewhere to go when options were limited.
In addition to her many responsibilities at Bridge, Elisabeth also loves to spend time with her family. “I am a wife and mom of two teenagers, who keep us very busy. Fun Facts: I can easily cook for 40 or more people at a time, I collect decorative snow people, and I was a football coach. OK, fine – assistant coach, but I was a coach! (And since you ask…defense!) In all of my jobs, I have been serving young people in different capacities because I believe in their dreams and their futures.”
Leadership & Recognition
Leadership: INPP; The Partnership
Board Appointments: Member, Youth Collaboratory and National Network for Youth (former), and Treasurer, Save the Harbor Save the Bay.
Advisory Appointments: The National Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC), National Safe Place Network, Massachusetts Black Advisory Board, Massachusetts Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission, Massachusetts Child Welfare Anti-Trafficking Leadership, Greater Boston Domestic Victims of Human Trafficking Project Victim Service Team, and Boston’s Leadership Council on Housing and Homelessness.
Recognitions: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley’s Women Who Live United, Boston Business Journal’s 2014 40 under 40; South Shore Living Influential Women: the 10 Leaders You Should Know, 2014; contributor for President Barack Obama’s Policy Briefing on Ending Youth Homelessness; and for being one of Boston’s Most Impactful Black Women by Get Konnected!
CEO Elisabeth Jackson with Associate Director of Rapid Re-housing, Anthony Samuel
“Bridge’s founding Executive Director, Barbara Whelan, has been my mentor since she hired me to run the agency’s key outreach program, the Mobile Medical Van, several decades ago. Since Barbara retired, Bridge has maintained the gift of her incredible legacy, building innovative new responses to the needs of today’s youth experiencing homelessness. I share Barbara’s unrelenting drive to put young people first in all we do at Bridge. I am energized and determined to ensure that every kid who comes to Bridge at high risk leaves as a capable, healthy young adult. All youth at Bridge have lived with hardship and abuse. They may lack confidence, they may have lost their way, but they all have hope. Their hope inspires me; they need someone to believe in them.”