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A message from the JASS Board of Directors

  • JASS

Executive Director Lisa VeneKlasen stepping down from JASS leadership in early 2020


We join together to honor and celebrate JASS Founding Executive Director, Lisa VeneKlasen. As a co-founder and leader of JASS since its inception in 2003, she has provided formidable thought and strategic leadership for women’s rights, social justice, and feminist organizing, as well as a following through on a steadfast commitment to building a shared leadership and organizational model illustrated by the evolution of JASS. Since co-founding JASS nearly 17 years ago, Lisa, with the emerging JASS teams, has co-created vibrant communities of practice of brilliant feminist activists, community organizers, and popular educators who are building and mobilizing across issues to transform the beliefs, politics, and institutions driving injustice. From movement builders’ schools designed to develop feminist collective leadership through training and political accompaniment of activists and organizations to the co-production of tools that re-conceptualize power, JASS’ contributions have been useful to both international human rights organizations and grassroots initiatives in the most hostile and threatening circumstances. Indigenous women in Mesoamerica fighting to preserve their land and culture in the face of hostile takeovers from extractive industries, HIV+ women in Southern Africa organizing for equitable access to treatment and healthcare, and women workers demanding labor rights in Southeast Asia are among the many communities that JASS-supported initiatives have nurtured, energized, and made visible.


Going against the grain and in search of an alternative international networking model, Lisa co-created JASS – as she often says – in the wildly creative spirit of “building while flying at 20,000 feet.” JASS is now a multiregional organization across Mesoamerica, Southern Africa, and Southeast Asia with 42 staff based in 12 countries and programs that reach 26 countries with global impact. Lisa co-led this extraordinary journey of organization-building from JASS as an idea, to JASS as an international feminist political organizing project with the support of many dedicated donors who share our mission. Through these 17 years of growth and responsiveness to fast-changing contexts, Lisa has been resolute that, no matter the demand, JASS must remain, fundamentally, a political community. That community is now joining together with excitement and respect as Lisa envisions her next steps. As part of the JASS leadership transition process, we hope you will join us in celebrating Lisa’s leadership and continuing your love and support for JASS. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing different opportunities to do so.


Last week, we launched the process to appoint a new Executive Director. We’ve started with an internal recruitment process to honor JASS’ current momentum and the desire to consolidate the efforts and structures of this vital transnational feminist movement-support organization.


Transitions are moments of opportunity and excitement. We know you will stand with JASS’ leadership, staff, and partners as we honor Lisa’s legacy and as we walk forward on this journey. In a world where the values JASS and our partners stand for are under intensifying threat, we are grateful for your support in ensuring JASS is as strong and sustainable as ever.


With gratitude and in solidarity, 

JASS Board of Directors 


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