Jennifer Shulkin is an innovative Jewish business leader with a background in law, having graduated from Harvard Law School and working as an attorney in New York, including time with the Manhattan DA’s office. The Adas Israel member then took her talents to the business world in June 2021, and became the co-founder and CEO of Override Health, a virtual health service for people dealing with chronic pain, an idea sparked by her own experiences with chronic pain after two head injuries she sustained while in college at University of Pennsylvania.
What has your career path looked like since college?
I went to Harvard Law School before moving to New York to serve as a federal law clerk to Judge Korman in the Eastern District of New York. After that, I went to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where I was prosecuting misdemeanors and then a big law firm in DC called Steptoe & Johnson, where I was working on white collar criminal defense cases. In 2021, I started building a health tech startup called Override Health, that is a virtual chronic pain management company.
You’ve done some writing about Jewish life. Can you tell me a little what inspired you to do that writing?
I’ve been writing since I was 14 years old. I’ve written on everything from women’s issues, to education, to sports, to Jewish issues. Because I grew up in a strong pro-Israel and Jewish household, Jewish issues have always been top of my mind for me, and I’ve written several things on them over the years, ranging from anti-Semitism in educational curriculums to our responsibility as third-generation Holocaust survivors.
What are some accomplishments from your professional career that you’re particularly proud of?
It took me a few times to get into Harvard Law School (HLS), so I am certainly proud of attending and graduating from HLS. And I’m definitely proud of the company that we’re building at Override. The company is backed by best-in-class venture capitalists in the healthcare space. We have team members all over the world and are trying to revolutionize how chronic pain is treated in the U.S.
What is the personal impact of being able to provide people with chronic pain some relief, especially given your personal experience with chronic pain?
I know from experience that accessing specialists who understand how to treat chronic pain is really difficult. So is finding comprehensive care and support. At Override Health, we put those elements together. We take the burden off the patient of locating and recruiting chronic pain specialists across different pain medicine, physical therapy, psychology, and coaching, making those providers available to patients virtually so that they can access it from the comfort of home, and then having the providers work together as a team to optimize care. This type of comprehensive support isn’t happening much outside of our company.
What are your current goals for the company’s foreseeable future?
The goal is to keep expanding, keep building, and get more patients to really validate our model. I try to take things step by step.
How has your Jewish upbringing impacted the way you go about your life?
Being Jewish has always been really important to my identity. My grandfather fled Nazi Germany and much of his family perished there. I have a mezuzah on my door, I light candles some Shabbats, I like to bake challah with my mom. I joined Adas Israel this past year. I led a Birthright trip before law school and then the Harvard Law School spring break trip to Israel. But how much time I think about my Judaism probably varies with what’s going on in the world. Since Oct. 7, and the worldwide increase in anti-Zionism and antisemitism that we are experiencing, my Jewishness has been much more top of mind. I’ve been attending protests for the release of the hostages in Gaza, posting on social media, donating and following the news closely. Now, more than ever, it’s important to be proud of being Jewish and to support the only Jewish state in the world: Israel.