Our Deputy Director, Jessa Timmer, oversees an unprecedented number of projects impacting Pioneer Square using her extensive background in community engagement and organizational leadership. Since October 2020, she has led the organization while Lisa, our Executive Director, was on maternity leave- helping our staff and neighborhood businesses navigate the different phases of the pandemic. Recently, Jessa took some time out to share a few takeaways from what will soon be her first year anniversary with the Alliance.
Jessa was thrilled to join the Alliance team in February 2020 but admits it was an interesting time to begin working in Pioneer Square. “Unfortunately, I was only in the office for three weeks before the pandemic shuttered most businesses and forced others to work from home”, she says, adding, “my favorite part about starting a new job in district work is to walk around, take it all in, meet business owners in their shops and restaurants, and to eat lunch at a different place every day.” Because of the pandemic, Jessa hasn’t been able to meet as many business owners in person as she’d hoped; however she does visit the neighborhood as much as possible and has become adept at creating connections through Zoom.
This is not the first time Pioneer Square has been hit by unfavorable circumstances such as the Great Seattle Fire and the economic fallout in 2008. Jessa references past challenges saying, “Pioneer Square has seen challenges like this and yet has continued to persevere through it all, always coming back each time better than before.” Jessa remarks that she has been inspired by the resolve of our neighborhood businesses through not just the challenges presented by COVID-19, but many obstacles in past years. She attributes that to the grit and ingenuity of the people in the neighborhood adding she’s confident in the recovery of the neighborhood this time, too.
On a more personal note, Jessa says she has rediscovered some old hobbies and picked up some new ones along the way as a periodic distraction from the pandemic. “Growing up, we always had a jigsaw puzzle, in some stage of development, on a card table in the living room during the holidays. I’ve rediscovered my love of jigsaw puzzles and enjoy doing them now to wind down my day”. She also admits to have tried out a few typical pandemic hobbies with varying success, remarking, “Sourdough bread was early on but I discarded that hobby like I discarded my sourdough starter after over-fermenting.”
Jessa is excited for the return of live music once the pandemic has subsided, saying, “I owned and managed a venue in my early 20’s and toured with a band for some time, so live music has always been a big part of my life. I really miss the swell of collective energy from a crowd.” While the Alliance team still has a few more months of virtual meetings, there’s nothing like sitting down and chatting with folks over a cup of coffee and Jessa can’t wait to be able to do that again.