Statement from Lovisa Stannow, JDI Executive Director

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, JDI’s Board of Directors has asked Lovisa Stannow to stay on as Executive Director until the end of the year. For more information, click here.

February 27, 2020

I am writing today to let you know that I will be stepping down as Executive Director of JDI at the end of June this year. As you can probably imagine, I have put a lot of thought into this decision. I am confident that this is the right time — for me personally and for JDI — to allow someone else to take over the leadership of this remarkable organization.

JDI’s Board of Directors has hired an executive search firm — McCormack + Kristel — to lead a nationwide search for our next Executive Director. I will work closely with the search firm and JDI’s Board to make sure that we find the right person. The Board and I are deeply committed to working together to ensure a smooth and successful transition, so that our next Executive Director will be able to build on JDI’s many strengths.

I joined JDI’s Board 18 years ago, when the organization had just established its first office in Los Angeles — after two decades of being run by volunteers — and had two part-time staff members. A couple of years later, I agreed to serve as the Acting Executive Director for what was supposed to be four months. Needless to say, that’s not how things worked out!

Today, JDI has three offices spanning ten time zones — in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Johannesburg. We have some 25 amazing staff members and dozens of volunteers and we are in an incredibly strong position. We have an excellent Board of Directors in the U.S. and an equally excellent Board of Trustees in South Africa. JDI is bold, strategic, and visionary.

We’ve grown a lot over the years, but some things have not changed. Thousands of prisoner rape survivors — incredibly brave people who endured rape and abuse while in the government’s custody — remain at the center of all our work. And we have a strong network of courageous supporters, like you, who are making all of our work possible. Thanks to you, JDI has become the indisputable global leader in the fight to end sexual abuse in detention.

What we have built together at JDI is the pride of my professional life. And yet, I know that now is the right time for me to leave, to make way for new leadership and new ideas. So many nonprofit leaders overstay in their jobs. I don’t want to be one of them. Instead, I will remain a committed supporter, cheering JDI on as it achieves the many victories that I know lie ahead.

March 26, 2020

A few weeks ago, I announced that I would be stepping down as JDI’s Executive Director at the end of June, after 18 years with this remarkable organization. Our transition plan was rock solid. June seemed like the perfect time for a leadership change, providing JDI’s Board of Directors ample time to find a new Executive Director.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, turning the world upside down.

In a few short weeks, it has become clear that our plan is no longer viable. With entire cities and most travel shut down, it wouldn’t even be possible to interview candidates for the Executive Director position right now.

As a result of the pandemic, JDI’s Board of Directors has asked me to stay on as Executive Director until the end of the year, which I have agreed to do. As I have said before, what we have built at JDI is the pride of my professional life. I am committed to making our leadership transition a success, and I look forward to working with JDI’s incredible staff to get us through this crisis.

While the Executive Director search may take a little longer, JDI’s work isn’t slowing down. Our staff are working remotely, supporting incarcerated survivors at a time when they desperately need it. We’re responding to survivor letters with vital information on healing from trauma. We’re offering online training for advocates on ways to ensure that their services keep reaching people who are locked up. And our rape crisis hotline for prisoners remains up and running.

The coronavirus pandemic is showing us that prisoners — this nation’s most isolated community — need champions more than ever. Thank you for being one of those champions.

With love and gratitude,

Lovisa Stannow
Executive Director