2012 Double Chai in the Chi

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Jenna Benn

Jenna Benn

The name Jenna Benn should be familiar to any consistent Oy! reader. One of our Oy!Chicago bloggers, Jenna is a self-described 30-year-old civil rights advocate, world traveler and tiny twister who dreams big.

In December 2010, Jenna was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Grey Zone Lymphoma that affects fewer than 300 people in the United States. Instead of surrendering to cancer, she was determined to find meaning in her suffering. In the course of her fight, Jenna figured out creative ways to leverage social media to process her experience and in turn create a community of tiny twisters that became invested in her fight. In the course of a year, Jenna battled cancer and started a nonprofit called Twist Out Cancer - a Support Community … With A Twist that changes the way a survivor shares and the way a community gives. When Jenna isn't twisting, you can find her working full-time at the Anti-Defamation League where she oversees young leadership programming, media and PR and international affairs advocacy.

Jenna Benn


Pays the bills:
Anti-Defamation League Chicago/Upper Midwest Region

On the side:
Founder of Twist Out Cancer

Relationship status:

Describe yourself in 10 words or less:
A civil rights advocate, a tiny twister and a big dreamer. 

Celebrity doppelganger:
Before Cancer- Kim Kardashian- Post Cancer- Kris Kardashian :)

How do you Jew in Chicago?
Selectively. Working in the community means that I have to force myself to carve out time that is not Jewish related. Traveling abroad with Jews in Chicago through the Anti-Defamation League has been a more recent passion of mine.

Day dreaming, twisting, music, photography

How do you give back?
Living in an overwhelming state of gratitude means that I am primarily driven by giving back. Since battling cancer I have learned how to savor and value moments. I have tried to show others the importance of living in the now, and I most recently created an organization that is based upon sharing and giving for the cancer community. My full time job at ADL has also provided me with countless opportunities to empower young adults in the community, and more recently my involvement with Imerman Angels and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has provided me with a platform to educate, inform, and pay it forward.

Fill in the blank: If time and money were limitless, I would:
figure out a way to build a cocoon around the people that I love and cherish to protect them from sickness and hardship. And it's about time we figure out a cure for cancer.

Chicago's Jewish community in 10 years:
Vibrant, diverse, and much more active online!

Me in 10 years:
I'm about the here and now.