Farewell from our Executive Director, Rob Rutland-Brown

Dear Friends,

On May 20, I’ll be stepping away as executive director of National Justice for Our Neighbors after more than nine years.  My experience with the organization has been incredibly inspiring, challenging, and fulfilling. I’d like to share a brief reflection on my time here as well as why I’m hopeful for our network’s future.

I’m proud of what National JFON and our network of 19 local sites have accomplished together.

  • We’ve strengthened the quality of our legal services and have deepened our advocacy.
  • We’ve increased our network-wide budget and staff size six-fold.
  • We’ve served 40,000 clients during this time and have undertaken more complicated, time-consuming, and impactful cases.
  • We’ve become more interconnected with better tools and closer relationships.
  • We’ve worked hard to create better boards and more skilled leaders, while also striving to nurture and resource staff and volunteers.
  • We’ve listened to the immigrants with whom we work, learning how to become more client-centered and immigrant-led.

After nearly a decade at NJFON, I feel like this is an ideal time for me, personally, to transition to the next stage of my career.  I’ll be re-engaging in more community-based work, moving into the role of executive director of a local nonprofit organization that offers a range of services to low-income residents in Northern Virginia.

At the same time, I also feel it’s an ideal time for the organization to experience new leadership who will offer fresh perspectives and skillsets.

I’m excited to announce that NJFON is embarking on a new leadership model consisting of two experienced leaders who will together serve as co-executive directors of our office.

  • Melissa Bowe, our current deputy director, will begin as co-executive director on May 23.
  • Alba Jaramillo, the current director of Arizona JFON, will begin as NJFON’s other co-executive director on June 1.

You’ll be hearing from them both soon.

Together, Melissa and Alba bring a deep knowledge of the JFON network, a diversity of life experiences (including, in Alba’s case, as an undocumented immigrant who grew up in a border community), incredible fundraising, and outreach credentials, legal and advocacy experience, and much more.

They will be working alongside a supremely capable board of directors and a team of staff.  I step away with genuine confidence that, as our incoming leaders, Melissa and Alba will be able to confront the challenges ahead with courage, creativity, and effectiveness.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  And thank you for the support that I know you’ll continue to give to this work in the years ahead.

Together, we will continue toward our vision of a nation where all immigrants have access to justice and are welcomed with dignity and love.






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