Theater for Development and Human Rights
After working at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue (directed by Anna Deavere Smith) at Harvard University, Jesse dedicated the last decade+ to working on arts-based human rights and development projects.
In 2002/2003, Jesse directed, wrote, and facilitated a community development theater project in Langa township, Cape Town, South Africa, bringing the voices of township youth into the Cape Town Festival, collaborating with the Community Arts Project, Guga S'Thebe, and playwright Fatima Dike. Jesse also assisted Anna Deavere Smith with research in South Africa for Let Me Down Easy.
After visiting Haiti several times to work on youth development projects and exchanges, Jesse was awarded a Puffin Foundation grant in 2003 to develop a community theatre project in La Vallee de Jacmel, in advance of Haiti's bicentennial.
In 2004, he founded a musical theatre for HIV-prevention program in Rwanda called RAPSIDA , which he ran until 2009. During his tenure with RAPSIDA, he co-organized hundreds of performances, theater competitions, and directed high school youth in numerous films and radio dramas which were broadcast nationally, including Ingabire. He also wrote movie scripts for Population Services International.
Jesse served as Global Youth Connect's Rwanda Program director from 2007 and became Global Youth Connect's Executive Director in 2009, a post he held until 2015. During his tenure with GYC, Jesse organized 16 human rights youth summits in Rwanda, created GYC's Human Rights in the USA Program (running two editions of the program in 2012 and 2014 in New York), and worked on youth exchange programs in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In all of these programs, Jesse integrated theater workshops.
Jesse has taught theater for social change workshops for NGOs at the United Nations and at public high schools in NY. He has spoken on panels at the New School, CIVICUS, UNAOC, and the 59East59 street theater on topics ranging from LGBT rights in Rwanda to youth activism in the face of genocide.
Jesse was the recipient of the Theatres Against War (THAW) Award in 2007.