40 Under 40 Class of 2022

Jessica Colson

Director of Development & Communications, Girls Inc. of the Valley

Jessica Colson was looking for a new and different career challenge — a position where she could utilize her skills in fundraising and digital marketing, and in a setting where her personal mission aligned with her work.

She found all that after a quick visit to the Girls Inc. of the Valley website.

“A pro-girl environment is something I experienced as a softball player growing up and playing for various teams,” she explained. “I was able to thrive in that environment, so I could clearly see the need for such an organization in the community. It was a very easy decision to apply for the job there.”

We’ll get back to the softball in a minute, because it’s a big part of this story. But first, that job she took. It put her on a path to becoming the director of Development & Communications for the Holyoke-based nonprofit, a position with many responsibilities in both marketing and development, from events to mail appeals; from writing newsletters to coordinating the May 5 Spirit of Girls fundraiser, a drive-in event at the Big E with a goal of raising $100,000.

Summing it all up, she said it’s her job to make sure the Western Mass. community knows about Girls Inc. and its many programs — and that these programs have the funding they need to continue.

It’s a big job, one in which she works closely with other team members to achieve the organization’s stated goals — and set some new ones for the future. Which is what she’s always done while playing, coaching, and teaching softball, which is her other passion.

A long-time player — at Agawam High School and then Elms College, where she earned both a bachelor’s degree in sports management and an MBA — she is now a volunteer assistant coach at Elms, working specifically with pitchers. She’s also the head coach of the JV girls volleyball team at Agawam High School.

But softball is more than a pastime for her — it’s also a business. Indeed, Colson launched NWS Fastpitch, where she focuses on providing instruction to pitchers.

“It started as a real desire to give back to the sport that gave me so many life skills — communication, teamwork, pushing through adversity,” she explained. “I was really looking for an outlet to pass on my knowledge to the next generation.”

Active in the community, she is a board member for Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, and has been a team captain for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for several years.


— George O’Brien