From 2014 to 2018, Alexa held various roles at fashion marketing company, Sam Edelman in the departments of retail operations and demand planning. After four years, Alexa decided to take on entrepreneurship in a full-time role at Backpacks For Life. Alexa also currently supports veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs as the Lead Instructor of Veteran Entrepreneurship Training at NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Veterans Future Lab.
Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Alexa Modero, I've lived in Jersey City since 2017 and I am the Executive Director of Backpacks For Life, a nonprofit that serves the homeless and at-risk veteran community. Prior to running the nonprofit full-time, I was working in fashion in NYC for the fashion brand Sam Edelman. I was born and raised in New Jersey, many of my family growing up right here in Hudson County - Hoboken, Union City & North Bergen. I attended the University of Rhode Island where I met my now fiance and co-founder of Backpacks For Life, Brett D'Alessandro.
Tell us about your business! How did it start? Biggest challenge? Favorite part? Where do you see it going?
I started the organization with my fiance, Brett D'Alessandro, in 2014 following his return home from a deployment to Afghanistan with the Marine Corps. We both saw the challenges that veterans and spouses face when someone returns from deployment first hand. During a chance encounter with a homeless veteran, Brett, gave his backpack from deployment to the gentleman and didn't think much of it but this interaction sparked what is now our mission with Backpacks For Life. I currently oversee our two programs - distributing backpacks to homeless veterans filled with daily and long-term essentials & our mentorship program where we provide personalized support to veterans and their family members. To date, we have distributed over 7,800 backpacks to veterans in 26 states. We pride ourselves on treating veterans as people, meeting them where they are at in their journey. Veterans are not a number to us and we feel so lucky to be able to serve them. The best part of our work is seeing a veterans face light up when you give them a high quality backpack that is filled with critical essentials that will help them if they're living on the streets or in shelters. Over the past 2 years, we've expanded our program with the development of The Bowery Pack, a backpack that is specifically designed with safety & security featuers for a homeless veteran and with the launch of ROGER, an online search platform for the NJ veteran community. The platform allows users to search for programs, resources and care by zip code, branch of service, suggested categories & more. You can visit our website www.backpacksforlife.org/
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
The biggest source of inspiration for us is when a veteran that we've served, comes back around and offers their support to other veterans by volunteering with our organization. It feels like a full circle moment when a veteran that was once in a position where they were in need, is now stepping up to the plate and continues to serve their fellow brothers & sisters.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love to bike around Jersey City, go for hikes (Palisade Park is one of my favorites!) and I'm a huge foodie - currently loving exploring Indian food in JC!
Favorite Local Spots:
- Restaurant - Light Horse Tavern
- Coffee Shop - Cafe Dolma
- Place to Shop - Kanibal or Love Locked
- Bar - love the margaritas at Gringos!
- Outdoor Spot - Van Vorst Park
- Honorable Mention - om.life is best place to unwind!
Connect with Alexa and check out Backpacks for Life!