Lisa VeneKlasen

Washington, DC
Executive Director, Board of Directors, and Co-Founder

For over 30 years, Lisa VeneKlasen has been an activist, educator, strategist and organization-builder with a variety of social justice and women’s rights efforts worldwide, and has advised and trained with numerous international development and human rights organizations. Trained as a community organizer, Lisa’s student activism in the early 1980s introduced her to popular educators and movement leaders in Latin America and the US, and led her to Nicaragua where she worked for two years with the Sandinista government's renowned adult literacy program. In pursuit of more direct US policy influence, she co-led 30 fact-finding missions of opinion leaders to Central America, was an organizer with the national Central America Peace Campaign, and served as Legislative Aid for a US Congressional Representative.

Prior to founding JASS in 2002, Lisa worked with women’s rights and development organizations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. With Women, Law and Development International for over five years, she relocated to Zimbabwe to design and coordinate a 10-country training and networking project that led to the creation of the pan-African Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), and worked closely with dozens of women’s groups in Africa and Eastern Europe to prepare for the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995. From 1997-2001, she was the Assistant Director of the Global Women in Politics program of the Asia Foundation, where she ran a multi-regional advocacy training and political leadership project. 

She serves on the Reference Group for the International Budget Partnership, on the board of the Bank Information Center, and as an advisor to the Nobel Women’s Initiative. She graduated from Smith College, and has Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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