Venus Devnani Named Executive Vice President of American Jewish World Service

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Venus Devnani Named Executive Vice President of American Jewish World Service

Today, Robert Bank, President and CEO of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, announced that Venus Devnani has joined AJWS’s leadership team as its Executive Vice President.

“We are singularly fortunate to welcome Venus Devnani as our Executive Vice President,” said Robert Bank, President and CEO of American Jewish World Service.

“Venus is an experienced, mission-driven leader who has managed teams at the highest levels in business, government and nonprofit sectors, both nationally and globally. She truly embodies a learning and service mindset, having dedicated her career to promoting social justice for marginalized groups including women and girls, students with disabilities, immigrant communities and LGBTQI people. Venus has pursued change through strategic policy reform, social programs, education, technology and system-level change initiatives. I am confident we will all benefit from her wisdom and thoughtful approach to leadership,” Bank added.

Bradley Abelow, Chair of AJWS’s Board of Trustees, added, “On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to welcome Venus to the AJWS team. Venus brings with her a vision for what a truly progressive organization looks like, and that vision will help us diversify our team and grow our mindset about what we do and how we do it. With her incredible track record of leadership, I know that Venus will help us deliver on our mission to support marginalized communities around the world.”

“I am so honored to join the talented team at AJWS,” Ms. Devnani said.  “Throughout my career, I have always been drawn to work that supports women and girls, transgender and intersex rights and historically underrepresented communities, so I feel personally connected to this work.

“One of the things I love about AJWS is that its mission is deeply rooted in Jewish heritage. The concept of tikkun olam – repairing the world – resonates with me because it translates so beautifully to three Hindu concepts that are a big part of my life: ahimsa, the concept of nonviolence; Ek Onkar, a phrase in Sikhism that speaks to the oneness of humanity; and seva, which relates to acts of service without the expectation of reward. My leadership philosophy is rooted in these concepts and so for me, joining AJWS was an incredible opportunity to be part of an organization that embodies these values and shares my belief in dignity for all people.”

Immediately prior to joining AJWS, Ms. Devnani served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Program Officer of Step Up Women’s Network, an organization pursuing gender equity through social emotional learning and mentorship for teen girls, young women and gender- expansive youth. During her tenure, she led the development of Step Up’s current program model, which focuses on ensuring that teens of color who identify as girls are equipped with the skills, agency and beneficial networks they need to achieve their goals.

“As the proud daughter of immigrants from India, a first-generation American and first-generation college graduate,” Ms. Devnani said, “I believe deeply from my own experience that societies and institutions must change to ensure that all people realize their full human rights.”

Before joining Step Up Women’s Network, Ms. Devnani served as Senior Executive Director of Operations at the New York City Department of Education, where she led the development of citywide special education reforms and supported more than 350,000 students with disabilities and their families. In this position, she was responsible for a budget of more than $4B and held a leadership portfolio that included the Department’s finances, human capital, labor relations, federal grants and policy and strategy.

Prior to serving in the public sector, Ms. Devnani consulted for global businesses involved in digital privacy and manufacturing on finance, product management, technology and development. She currently chairs the Board of Trustees the Article 20 Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the freedom of peaceful assembly worldwide.

Ms. Devnani earned a Bachelor of Science in international business with concentrations in finance, entrepreneurship, and French from Northeastern University, and studied international management at the Reims Management School in France. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Daniel McClelland.

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