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Jenise Terrell Named CEO of Public Allies

Ms. Terrell becomes the first alumni and first Black woman to hold the CEO title, bringing a bold vision to the 30-year-old social justice non profit


Milwaukee, Wis – The Board of Directors of Public Allies, a nonprofit dedicated to social justice and racial equity, is honored to announce the appointment of Jenise Terrell to the position of CEO. Jenise brings over 25 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, community development, and leadership development to this role. Most of her career has been focused on leveraging national service as a vehicle to create pathways to leadership for marginalized and disenfranchised voices across the United States.

Ms. Terrell began her journey in servant leadership as a Public Allies AmeriCorps member herself in 1997. Throughout her more than 20 year history with Public Allies, Ms. Terrell has held several roles, including Ally mentor and supervisor, field operations leader, fundraising strategist, government relations lead, Executive Vice President of Program Strategy, and most recently, Interim CEO. By accepting this new role, Jenise Terrell becomes the first Public Allies alumni and first Black woman to hold the CEO title at this organization that has included such powerful women leaders as Vanessa Kirsch, Public Allies co-founder and first CEO, and former First Lady Michelle Obama, founding Executive Director of Public Allies Chicago.

Ms. Terrell has been serving as Interim CEO for the past six months, deftly navigating Public Allies through transition following an organizational restructure. Following the organization being called into account for operating in alignment with its values, Ms. Terrell has driven the effort to work with the board, staff, alumni, and key organizational partners to reimagine a vision for the future. 

“In a time of increasing inequity and division across the country, Public Allies’ values-based leadership practice, our signature Ally Program, and our talented, mobilized alumni network are needed now more than ever. We have the leadership, network, passion, and programming in place to support that vision,” says Ms. Terrell. “Everyday, I have the privilege of working with an amazing group of driven leaders. My appointment to CEO is a reflection of their brilliance, and a reflection of the values that we hold so dear. It is the greatest honor of my life to serve at the helm of the organization that not only helped shape my own leadership, but has been responsible for launching the careers of thousands of noteworthy changemakers across our nation. I am enthusiastically committed to furthering the reach of our premise that leadership is an action to be taken, not just a position to be held.”

Over the course of its 30-year history, Public Allies has continued to transform lives and impact communities by choosing to see promise and potential in spaces where others see deficit. Centering the values of equity and proximate leadership, Public Allies has launched nearly 10,000 equity-centered and social justice-oriented leaders across sectors and across the country. With the rise in rhetoric that points to an increasingly divided nation, America needs the kinds of diverse, democratic leaders that Public Allies fosters. Public Allies’ mission is more relevant and critical now than ever before.

“Jenise Terrell so powerfully embodies the mission and values of Public Allies,” says Kanwar Singh, Chair of the Board of Public Allies. “Her appointment to this position represents a shift towards the alignment of our values with our practice. We can not help but recognize her as exactly the kind of leader our social justice movement needs today. We commit to walking the path alongside her and in support of her, and we extend our deepest gratitude to her for leading us into this next, exciting phase for Public Allies.”




About Public Allies

Public Allies is a 501c3 national nonprofit committed to advancing social justice and racial equity by engaging and activating the leadership of all people. Our mission is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. Since 1992, we have been a pioneer in recruiting and developing equity-focused change-makers. We have built a powerful network of more than 9000 proximate leaders who bridge races, ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, and cultures. Holding roles ranging from elected officials to heads of foundations and organizations, they reflect system re-designers, policy shapers, builders of inclusive cultures, and transformers of cultures – ones that accept, value, and view differences that we all bring to the table as strengths