An Instant Friend

Name: Hayley Ramsey

Location: Wichita, Kansas

Relationship to Jessica: Friend

I met Jessica in July 2001 in Washington, D.C., when we both attended Presidential Classroom.

Jessica & Hayley at Presidential Classroom


I met Jessica in the summer of 2001 when we both attended Presidential Classroom in Washington, DC. I was nervous about being away from home and among complete strangers for a whole week. I remember meeting some other kids attending PC on the shuttle ride from the airport to the hotel, and they had quickly started comparing GPAs and extra-curricular activities. I was worried I was in for a long, lonely week.

Later that day I was assigned to my small group, the group I would spend nearly the entire week with, and I was lucky enough to have Jessica assigned to my group. She came in a little late and sat down next to me, and I immediately felt less lonely. We became fast friends and spent the week together. She introduced me to Starbucks after-coffee mints and taught me how to speak with a New Jersey accent. We both enjoyed the activities of PC but didn’t take it as seriously as some of the other kids, and just had a good time together. I look back on that week fondly, mostly because of Jessica. Sure, it was good to be in DC and learn about government, but the best part was laughing with my new friend.

At the end of the week I was sad to say good bye to her, but we kept in touch with phone calls, letters, and e-mails. We could talk on the phone for hours, about the absurdities of high school and our college plans. We gradually started calling each other less, as we moved on through college and got busy. Later, after we found each other on Facebook, we messaged each other from time to time. Even if it’d been a year since I’d last messaged her, Jessica always replied promptly and as though she couldn’t have been more excited to hear from me. She always made me feel like I was special to her.

I was unbelievably sad when I learned about her death, but I haven’t been surprised at all by the response to it or what I’ve read about her since then. I wasn’t surprised she was considered a rising star in her company, or that she was such a good friend to so many, or that she did so much for others.

We spent only seven days together, with a few dozen phone calls and a handful of Facebook messages in the years following that week, but I knew the same person everyone else knew. Someone warm, bright, generous and funny.

A Role Model for Others

Name: Lillian Hsu

Location: Ithaca, New York

Relationship to Jessica: Acquaintance/classmate

I knew of Jessica since middle school, but didn’t really meet Jessica until my freshman year of high school.

Jessica in high school


It’s been nearly 10 years since I last saw Jessica, and while I don’t know if Jessica remembered me, I definitely remember her. Though I never really saw her outside of school or school-related activities, and, regrettably, never got the chance to really get to know her, Jessica was a role model for me. As an impressionable freshman at WPHS, I knew from the moment I met her that she was the type of person I wanted to emulate. She had it all: intelligence, athleticism, beauty (both inner and physical), humility, grace, and above all, a warm and generous heart. Most of my interactions with her were through extracurricular activities, and her leadership style was admirable. She was self-motivated and dedicated, and her enthusiasm for whichever club activity or cause, particularly those that helped the less fortunate, she was promoting was contagious. Jessica, though you probably never knew it, I looked up to you back then, and continue to look up to you now. Thank you for being a great role model to me and all the other people you’ve unknowingly inspired. Your legacy will live on through the memories and hearts of everyone who ever had the good fortune of sharing even just a few minutes of your life.

A Smile for Everyone

Name: Kara Amendola

Location: East Hanover, New Jersey

Relationship to Jessica: Former Classmate

I met Jessica in middle school.

Jessica on the first day of school


I didn’t know Jessica well like many of the people posting on this site; didn’t know where she went to college, what philanthropic organizations she supported, or what her cat’s name was (did she even have a cat)? In fact, I only found out about Jessica’s passing this spring during dinner with an old school friend. Upon hearing the news, my fork stopped half-way to my mouth (which had formed an absurd “O” shape that might’ve been comical under any other circumstance), and all I could think of to say in response was, “…what?” Her death was on my mind for the rest of the evening.

I asked myself later why I’d been so shocked. After all, we were only passing acquaintances in middle school and half of high school, well over a decade ago. People die all time, usually never penetrating our hardened shells. But sometimes you meet the rare person that you just know is “one of the good ones,” and without knowing her well or being her friend, I just knew at an early age that Jessica was “one of the good ones.”

Let’s pause for a moment and recall that Jessica and I were first introduced in middle school, a time when the teen social hierarchy was really starting to emerge and our schoolmates were beginning to act as if it mattered. The athletes, the honor roll kids, the art/drama nerds, the band/choir geeks, the grungy hemp hippies… Everyone was trying to find their niche, differentiate themselves (yet still fit in), and figure out how they were going to survive the next seven years. And of course they were treating their peers accordingly.

Jessica wasn’t like that. My few memories of Jessica involved her having a smile for everyone, no matter what social circle you were contained in. And she didn’t quite fit into one place like so many of our classmates; she moved in and out of circles at will with a laugh that reverberated down the hallways, and she often displayed a sense of warmth and heart that many of our peers had discarded at the doors as the ultimate in “uncool.”

The simple truth is that people like Jessica have a way of leaving an imprint on social passersby, and whether it’s 10, 20, or 50 years later, you unexpectedly find that you still remember that laugh, that smile; and you wish you’d known them just a little bit better, had taken time to dig just a little bit deeper. Jessica, I’m sorry for the pain that you suffered and am happy to think you finally found your bit of peace in this crazy world. Long live your memory and your legacy.

Memorial Day 2009: Boston BBQ

Name: Neil Sullivan

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Relationship to Jessica: Friend

I met Jess through my girlfriend, Lauren Albert, in 2009.

Lauren & Jessica, Memorial Day 2009


I met Jess through my girlfriend, Lauren Albert, who was Jess’ college roommate, during a visit to New York City in the spring of 2009. We stayed with Jess at her apartment and it was clear to me right away why Lauren considered Jess one of her best friends; Jess was energetic, fun, and positive. She instantly made me feel welcome, as though I had known her for years.

One memory that stands out for me is when Jess visited us in Boston on Memorial Day, not long after our trip to New York. Lauren and I met Jess at the bus station early on a Saturday morning, and the girls quickly took off for some shopping on Newbury Street. I was hosting a barbeque at my apartment later that weekend, which the girls promised they would attend.

When they arrived at the barbeque, the group was comprised entirely of my family and friends. Unfazed, Jess quickly immersed herself in the group and was an immediate hit with everyone. Her trademark laugh could be heard for the rest of the night. She particularly enjoyed teasing my two brothers for their “Boston accents.”

I think of Jess frequently, and even though she is no longer with us I will always remember that Memorial Day visit in 2009, and how happy she was and how happy she made everyone else.

Dance, Girl…

Name: Rochelle Ballard

Location: New York, New York

Relationship to Jessica: Friends for Life!

I met Jessica at Georgetown but our friendship blossomed when we both moved to New York.

Ro & Jess laughing at Rochelle’s birthday party, April 2008
Ro & Jess at a party in Greece, July 2009


This is my second submission to Jessica’s website. I wanted to add a favorite memory that I’m sure the rest of the girls will appreciate and love… We would all agree that the hallmarks of our friendship with Jess included: “laughter,” “dancing,” and “fun.” Jess loved to dance! Whether it was a night out at the club, her birthday weekend in Miami where we jammed out to our own dance party in the living room, or at a class with me at Broadway Dance in our neighborhood. If the music was playing she was dancing.

I remember our weekend in Miami so vividly. We were all there to celebrate her birthday. On Saturday morning we all woke up, cooked breakfast and put on some music — this was not your typical meal, it was all a part of our themed celebration. The song “Bed Rock” by Lloyd came on and Jess had never heard the song before….Next thing you know, we are all dancing around the kitchen to the song. It became the theme song of the weekend; and a memorable time that we were fortunate enough to capture on video.

My last memory with Jess was at the Acumen Fund event on December 6th. She texted me saying, “Where are you, Ro? I need you here so we can dance!” I can still envision exactly how she would dance when her favorite song came on (lips pursed, fingers pointed, eyes gazing up and down)…how much she loved Beyonce or how she would sing along to Lady Gaga.

What I will miss most about my friendship with Jess are the memories we never had a chance to create. The trips we would have taken together…. the Business School experience we would have shared…the fun, laughs and “girl-friend” experiences that you cherish so much with your closest, most special friends. She was truly a friend for life.

Jess, I have you to thank you for bringing such great friends (your friends!) into my life. I will cherish the memories we all made together and for you, I will keep on dancing until the music stops.



Yellow Leather Limousine

Name: Billy Williams

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Relationship to Jessica: Close friend

I met Jessica in one of the many, many classes we took together during middle school. I’ll go with 6th grade math.

Jessica & Billy with their flour babies in high school


Jessica & Billy at Senior Prom


It took me quite a few years to realize that friendship isn’t easy. It requires an investment of time, energy, and heart that many struggle with – especially as physical distance grows and time passes. But with Jess and me it was always so easy.

My fondest memories with Jessica are from senior year at Whippany Park. Suddenly, the reality of college hit our friends. Everything we grew accustomed to was ending: Friendly’s trips, Livingston Mall/Applebee’s dinners, trips to the Parsippany movie theater. Sports, clubs, classes, pool parties. It was scary. So we made the most of our time together. And those last few months were some of the best of my life.

For whatever reason (bribes, rides to school) Jessica “said yes!” to going to senior prom with me. We both poured a lot of time into planning it, trying to make ours the best of all time. The location, the food, the music, the class gift. One of the few things Jess left in my hands was transportation – and wow, did she ever regret it!

We thought it would be cool to get a limo from NYC. They’d know exactly where to take us after prom! We reserved some cool wheels for the big event. Of course, we came home and showed the girls pictures of a cheesy Vegas-style yellow leather limo. They were mortified – especially Jess. Joke was on them!

The day finally arrived. We finished up pictures and waited for our limo. And waited…and waited…and waited. We were sweating. No one was happy. The driver was stuck in traffic (you HAD to go to NYC for this)?? We missed the cocktail hour. Finally it pulled up. Jess – excited to leave – opened the door. And it was the yellow leather limo. She cried. I was batting a thousand.

After these initial bumps, it turned out to be an amazing night. Jess was an effervescent, beautiful date. I was very lucky to have shared that memory with her. We had a blast.

Jess has played many roles in my life – high school prom date, college counselor, career counselor, math tutor, reality-checker. But above all, she was and will continue to be my inspiration.

We were truly blessed with a strong, caring group of friends in high school. As I went through college, it was evident that high school friendships – for the most part – fade away. But not ours; we wouldn’t let it. And Jess was an integral part of our group. There is no us without Jess. And we are fortunate enough to have each other for love and support during the good times…and, during the not so good.

Here’s to the times we shared, to the memories we made, and to an incredible woman that made those memories even better. Complete with cheesy “memory song” (which actually was released at the same time as our high school graduation) and scanned disposable camera pictures. Both of which would have Jessica bursting out in laughter.

Hopefully, somewhere up there, you can still hear Div whisper over a seventh grade three-way phone call “Billy loves Jessica…”

Soul Sister

Name: Ashley Pitman

Location: New York, New York

Relationship to Jessica: Roommate; Soul-Sister

I first met Jessica at Georgetown – Senior Year.


I met Jessica several times at Georgetown and after graduation. I had no idea during all our fleeting encounters that she would very quickly become one of my closest and most trusted friends – a true soul-sister. I’ll never forget the day I told David Velasquez I was thinking about moving into the free room in Jess’s apartment and his face lit up. He said “Jessica Fashano is the nicest person EVER. You HAVE to live with her.” He was right! From the minute I moved in the friendship accelerated at a speed that I think surprised us both. The stream-of-consciousness emails and texts were non-stop. Even though she was always so busy at work, she seemed to know my schedule better than I did and she was the only person who asked me how my day was every single day.

Needless to say, living with Jessica for three years was one of the highlights of my life. The memories are countless, and even considering an amazing weekend in Madrid, my favorite moments were just chilling in her room, testing make-up shades, talking about food & travel, and sharing stories…only pausing to make dinner reservations when we’d finally decided on which of the dozens of restaurants on our “list” we were in the mood for. Rusty Knot for po boys and a pretzel dog was always the default back up.

Today is Ash Wednesday, which reminds me that Jess would always give up cheese for Lent. This made choosing restaurants during Lent really difficult as to avoid temptation. I’m sorry we won’t have to face that struggle this year.

I was lucky enough to have called Jess one of my best friends. I love and miss her every day and can only find peace knowing she is at peace.

Hilarious Fashano Dinners

Name: Jeff Roth

Location: Denville, New Jersey

Relationship to Jessica: Brother-in-law

I met Jessica in 2000 when I started dating Danielle. She was 17, and it was the summer before her junior year of high school.

Danielle, Jessica, & Jeff, Summer 2001


The summer I met Danielle, I was a little nervous about being introduced to Jessica because I was told she had tough standards for who should go out with her sister.  Fortunately, she took it easy on me and treated me with nothing but kindness from the start.  That fall, even though Danielle was studying in Spain, Jessica made sure that we had little party at the Fashano house on my birthday.  Having moved from Ohio after college, it was great to have a place in New Jersey where I felt at home.

My favorite memory is of all the times we sat around the dinner table, usually eating pasta with homemade “Italian gravy.”  Even when Jessica was in high school and studied non-stop, she would always come down to the kitchen to eat with her family.  Everyone who knew Jessica talks a lot about her laugh, but amplify that several times over and you have a typical Fashano dinner.  I can’t quite describe it but someone would say something funny, and Jessica would raise her arms and let her silverware plop to the table.  She would then bust out her classic laugh, but not before pausing for dramatic effect and getting this look on her face that would make everyone immediately start rolling with laughter.

It is in such times of laughter and joy that I miss Jessica most, thinking about what she would say and how she would react, and feeling a deep sense of regret that our happiest moments will be experienced without her.

A Ring Bearer’s Crush

Name: Janine Scandlon

Location: Medina, Ohio

Relationship to Jessica: Sister-in-law

Danielle, Jessica’s sister, married my brother, Jeff Roth.

Danielle & Jeff's Wedding Party (Kent is Ring Bearer, in front of Jessica), October 17, 2004


I met Jessica for the first time while Jeff and Danielle were dating. Over the years, we would re-connect with Jessica when we would visit my brother in NJ. During the summer of 2004, Jessica and Mrs. Fashano drove to Ohio for a bridal shower that was being given for Danielle. My husband is a building contractor and we had just built and moved into our new home. Danielle asked if we would give them a “tour” of the house.

When they arrived at our home, my then four year old son, Kent, suddenly became possessed. It took me awhile to figure out that he had been struck by the age-old male need to show off for a beautiful girl. He was completely smitten by Jessica and proceeded to do flips, roll down stairs, jump off of dressers, make goofy faces and loud noises. Anything he could do to get Jessica’s attention. While he can be quite a bundle of energy on a good day, this was completely over the top.

Jessica just laughed and took it in stride. I can only imagine what Mrs. Fashano and Jessica were thinking. This completely possessed, strutting peacock was to be Danielle’s ring bearer. They probably had images of flips and rolls down the aisle of the wedding ceremony. Needless to say, upon threats of no t.v. for life and anything else we could think of, Kent managed to keep his infatuation for Jessica under control during the wedding and behaved very gentlemanly. Jessica holds fond memories for me as she was my son’s “first crush.”

My Left Side Is My Good Side

Name: Theresa Mazza

Location: Hoboken, New Jersey

Relationship to Jessica: Best friend

Jessica and I met in the 6th grade at our school’s wilderness retreat. We were put into groups for lunch and she sat directly across from me. We instantly clicked. Later, when we were all asked to write about our favorite experience from the trip, Jess said hers was meeting me. We were best friends ever since.

Once in a Lifetime

For me, friendships like mine and Jessica’s only come once in lifetime. Sure, we all meet tons of great people who come into our lives, who we click with on various topics, interests and life experiences, but as we all know there is always that one friend that stands above the rest. It’s the friend you can always count on for a meaningful chat; the friend who is the only person to wish you a happy birthday (the day after); the friend you never have to pretend for, the friend who winks at you to acknowledge that they know exactly what you’re thinking and it’s that same friend you roll your eyes back at because they figured it out; it’s the friend that isn’t afraid to tell you you’re “OUT OF YOUR TREE,” and that skinny jeans really may not be most flattering on either of you, or that your eyebrows need waxing- yet again; it’s the friend you love unconditionally and the friend you can’t ever imagine living without. Jess, for me, was that friend. She’s like a once in lifetime cosmic event, never to repeat herself but rather to leave her spectacular, astoundingly beautiful, and monumental mark on the universe and more importantly on my life.

Theresa's first visit to see Jess at Georgetown, 2002


This picture is from my very first trip down to visit Jess at Georgetown in 2002. We both loved this picture so much, that we spent the next 8 years trying to replicate it, often fighting over who got the be on the left side, since it was both our “good side.”  I often had to remind her that in the original it was me!

My Jessbabes,

I miss you more than I could ever show you or tell you. I cherish every moment we ever spent together. Your smile, your laugh and your spirit are forever in my heart. I love you.