Janelle joined Sojourners in 2012, first as a Campaigns Assistant in the Cycle 29 intern class and as Online Organizing Associate until 2015. Before coming to Sojourners, Janelle worked with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Janelle grew up in the DC area. She first became interested in social justice in her (Catholic) high school religion class, which focused heavily on nonviolent movements in India and El Salvador. She chose to act on that passion by studying international relations at American University; an internship at MCC’s Washington Office sparked a deeper interest in policy advocacy.
Janelle lives in Hyattsville with her husband Frank and their fluffy cat Maggie, and attends Hyattsville Mennonite Church. She loves board games, good beer, craft projects, long walks, and pretty much anything else you might throw at her.
While Janelle doesn’t remember how she first heard about Sojourners, her mother grew up in a household that got The Post-American so perhaps it runs in the blood.
Posts By This Author
It's On Us, Too: An Open Letter to Theological Schools About Sexual Assault
According to the Broken Silence survey (commissioned by Sojourners and IMA World Health), faith leaders play a key role in preventing and responding to such violence. Though a majority of respondents reported feeling ill-equipped to deal with issues of sexual and domestic violence in their congregations and communities, an overwhelming majority of faith leaders (81 percent) indicated that they would take appropriate action to reduce such violence if they had the training and resources to do so.
This gap is precisely why seminaries and divinity schools are essential to addressing domestic abuse and sexual assault. Your theological schools can and must take the lead on educating more faith leaders about sexual and gender-based violence.
Top 10 Reasons to Support Sojourners This Year
As part of our extended Sojourners community, we want you to know how important your donations are to supporting our prophetic work for faith in action for social justice. Click here to make a donation now and read on to learn about how you’re helping us to make an impact!
1. Because the future church isn’t going to lead itself: Sojourners is working around the clock to make sure that those who will be leading the church in 2050 are equipped today. Every year, we print hundreds of articles by 10 yearlong interns and our cohort of 17 Emerging Voices, helping them find their voice and analyze issues of justice. Who do you want leading the church that your children, or your grandchildren, will be attending? We thought so: leaders who apply justice to faith are crucial for the next generation.
Hope in the Dark Times
The first time I really got it, I was 16 years old.
I had traveled by myself to visit distant relatives in Paris, with the hope of improving my French. Somehow, a weekend visit to the beach ended up with me on an unaccompanied trip on a train from a lazy seaside town back to the city. “I’m lonely here, God,” I thought. “Would you show me you are with me?”
Looking out the train window, there was a brilliant sunset hanging over the fields of canola flowers. There was my reminder of God’s love! As the train curved away from the sunset and it fell out of view, I sat back in my seat, satisfied with the gift I had been given … only to start up again as the train took a sharp curve to the left, the sunset back in full view.
“Oh,” I thought, “that’s what they mean by love being abundant and our cups overflowing. I get it.”
The first time I really got it, I was 18 years old.
On my first winter break back from college, I was driving in my parents’ car, listening to the radio. On air was a county executive discussing why a curfew might be a good idea for the county’s youth. According to him, instituting the curfew would help police arrest young people they suspected of other crimes. The implication was that it would only be enforced against those people who looked suspicious. Another voice on the show expressed concerns that what this meant was that the curfew would only be enforced against black teenagers.
“Oh,” I thought, “this is what they mean when they say the police target people they instinctively assume to be suspicious, even if they haven’t done anything wrong. I get it.”
Why Earth Week Matters
Editor's Note: Sojourners is celebrating Earth Week with a special message series every day next week. Click here to join us!
“Behold, I am making all things new!” says Jesus in the book of Revelation. It’s this spirit of hope and second chances that we celebrate at Easter time. Life triumphs over death and decay. We get a second chance.
But what about our planet? A cursory glance shows us that God’s creation could use some renewal.
Creation is definitely groaning. We’re losing species, spilling oil, and changing our climate at an alarming rate. We’re building sea walls and responding to pumped-up natural disasters. Energy companies are pushing for even more access to the fossil fuels that are harming God’s creation. Action from Congress seems far away, and moneyed special interests are working hard to block other kinds of action.
In the War on Poverty, Women Need a Boost
Sojourners campaigns assistant Anna Hall posted a great piece last week de-bunking 5 myths about the minimum wage. One of these myths — that most minimum wage workers are suburban teenagers — was countered by the facts: nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are adult women.
Don’t think of a suburban teenager — think of a single mother working full time while trying to raise her children, care for her family, and make enough to pay rent, probably without any paid sick or personal days (not to mention maternity leave). Could you do that on $15,000 a year?
On Jan. 13, Maria Shriver – who, in addition to her many accomplishments, is the daughter of the statesman widely regarded as the architect of the “War on Poverty” — released a report focusing on the needs of women in the current economy.
We Can Help Stop Rape in the Military
By official estimates, 26,000 people are sexually assaulted in the U.S. military each year. That comes out to 71 people every day. It’s an epidemic that’s been widely reported in the news.
As if that weren’t bad enough, most of the assaults go unreported – only 11 percent of assault victims ended up filing reports last year (3,374). Studies show that those who do not report the assault cite fears of retaliation and a concern that nothing will be done.
Leaders in Congress are trying to change that this week with the Military Justice Improvement Act.
Right now, if a woman is sexually assaulted in the military, her case is evaluated by a commanding officer. This officer decides whether to bring the case to trial. Once it has been tried, the same commanding officer is responsible for enforcing the consequences. That’s called “convening authority.”
Speak Out Sunday Helps Faith Communities Address Tough Issues
In the United States, more than 1 in 3 women (and 1 in 4 men) havereportedly experienced sexual assault, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
These are not numbers that disappears when you walk in to a church. Christian women are subject to sexual and gender-based violence, too – but when is the last time you heard about this issue in a church?
Talking about the pain and fear of intimate partner abuse can seem daunting, but there are resources to help faith communities get started. On Sunday, Nov. 24, faith communities have an opportunity to speak out against sexual and gender-based violence in the aptly named Speak Out Sunday.
Shutdowns and Shootouts – My New Hometown Normal?
It’s a rough month to be a Washingtonian.
My morning bike ride past the Capitol Building is leaving me less with the sense of inspiration I used to feel at being so close to the heart of democracy, and more with a creeping sense of disgust. Sometimes it’s tough to live in a city whose very name is a synonym for Congress. “Washington” recently decided to cut off all funding for national parks, health research, and, oh yeah, programs that serve poor Americans.
Thanks to Congress, poor women might not get help from the Women, Infants and Children program to feed their babies. Head Start preschool programs have been canceled, leaving parents unable to work. People who need the SNAP program to feed their families could be left with nowhere to turn, while sick and elderly people who get regular visits from Meals on Wheels volunteers are worried about where their food will come from over the coming weeks.
There are about 40 members of an extremist ideological minority who are ruining the reputation of the place I live and work, and taking the poor down along with them.
Pipeline, Meet the Nuns
Pipeline projects are moving forward across the country, but a group of tuneful nuns is working to make sure they don’t succeed.
The Sisters of Loretto in Marion County, Kentucky have lived on their rural acreage since the 1800s, serving the poor and enjoying the wide open spaces and forest trails of their home.
With a fracking company proposing a pipeline for pressurized natural gas chemicals through their land, the sisters have sprung into action to protect what they see as their “holy land.” They have refused to allow the fracking company to survey their land for pipeline construction, citing past pipeline explosions and the risk of contamination.
The sisters appeared at a public hearing over the proposed pipelines, singing “Amazing Grace” until they were asked to be quiet. Their unexpected activism has gained them attention locally and across the internet (you can meet the sisters by watching this video.)
A Simple Fix to Reduce Poverty and Encourage Work
One thing that gets lost in the rhetoric is that many of the solutions we have are already effective — they just need to be improved. And we have plenty of ideas that already help lift families out of poverty while encouraging them to work. Sounds perfect, right?
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one such program. It provides a tax credit based on how much income a worker takes in — the more income they take in, the more benefit they get, up to a maximum point when it starts to phase out. This gives working people incentive to keep working rather than rely on assistance alone.
- 1 of 6