Our Team

Staff Leadership

Jessica Willis
CEO
jessica@rvaji.com

bw-8584Jessica provides a wealth of experience and research in human trafficking prevention education, social sustainability, program and non-profit management.  Jessica has worked with RJI since its infancy while supporting multiple anti-trafficking projects locally and nationally. She joined as RJI’s second full-time staff member in 2013 to manage the organization’s budding prevention education efforts and in early 2016 was elected to lead the organization.  Through Jessica’s leadership, RJI’s signature and award-winning prevention education curriculum, the Prevention Project® program, has expanded from a high school pilot project to a national, fully developed, interactive curriculum reaching over 11,000 students to date in schools, churches, and after-school programs in eight states.  RJI’s two additional highly-rated programs were developed under her stewardship including the in-depth training program as well as the new Middle School Prevention Project curriculum.  She loves building relationships with advocates throughout the United States through sharing how each person can make a difference, partnering together, and equipping others to ultimately reach teens and adult leaders with anti-trafficking prevention education.

Jessica is a dynamic public speaker who has addressed groups at national and state-wide conferences, schools and universities, churches, and professional associations on leadership development, prevention education, social responsibility, and other anti-trafficking topics.  Serving on the advisory committee for the National Educators to Stop Trafficking (NEST) and as a founding steering committee member of Fair Trade Towns, Richmond, she has long been well-invested in the anti-trafficking community.

Joell Maisano Denison
Director of Programs and Training
joell@rvaji.com

Joell

Joell Denison serves as the Director of Programs and Training at RJI. She’s been involved in anti-trafficking efforts since 2012 when she joined the team as one of RJI’s first interns while at the University of Richmond.  After graduation, she spent a year in Zambia working with International Justice Mission in a field office internship. There she worked in Communications, experienced cross-cultural life, and grew an understanding of unjust systems and harsh power dynamics-  further solidifying her personal conviction to fight human rights abuses. After her overseas assignment, she rejoined RJI in September 2015. 

Joell leads public speaking engagements to Universities, churches, schools, Rotaries, and other passionate community groups. She has personally trained over 100 individuals to either teach the Prevention Project curriculum or propose it to new schools/organizations, and she has reached hundreds of youth workers with in-depth training so they have the tools to properly identify and bring safety to students affected by trafficking. She was responsible for the expansion of the Prevention Project program to three new states, and oversaw the development of the middle school edition of the Prevention Project curriculum. It is her biggest joy to see students emboldened as leaders in their community, using the Prevention Project education to catalyze their actions in mending the fabrics of justice rather than contributing to the problem. She longs to see the younger generation participating in the fight against human trafficking, caring for their fellow neighbor and using their voice to promote change.

Heather Caleb
Operations and Engagement Manager
heather@rvaji.com

Heather Caleb is the Operations and Engagement Manager for RJI. Her responsibilities include developing strategies and systems for engaging the community both locally and nationally in the fight to end human trafficking. She is the power behind our fundraising development, expressing her creativity and passion through campaigns to fund the work she believes in.

She started out as a RJI volunteer in 2014, coming on staff in January 2017. Heather trained as a nurse, graduating with her BSN from Virginia Commonwealth University. She worked with Bon Secours Health System from 2012-2017. In 2016 she was honored with the distinguished Annual Bon Secours Dedicated Service Award. She has been instrumental in raising awareness of human trafficking in the healthcare system through presentations and providing in-services to healthcare professionals. In 2015 she spent three months in Thessaloniki, Greece with the A21 Campaign serving survivors of trafficking in a safe house and working with refugees from the middle east.

Core Volunteer Team

Marjorie Blanton
Volunteer Coordinator
volunteer@rvaji.com

Marjorie BlantonMarjorie first learned about human trafficking at the Passion Conference in 2013 and has been learning more about the issue and how to fight it since. She loves helping out in the RJI office and getting other people connected to the mission of ending modern day slavery! She believes in the power or prayer and encourages others to join. She looks forward to the day when all captives are released, all prisoners are freed, and all who are brokenhearted are comforted (Isaiah 61). Outside of RJI she works at VCU, volunteers with Young Life Capernaum, and goes hiking as much as possible.

 

April Asbury
Administrative Coordinator
info@rvaji.com

aprilApril first learned about human trafficking after watching a documentary on child sex trafficking in the United States. She knew before the film ended that she had to be apart of the movement to end human trafficking. Upon researching the topic she found the Richmond Justice Initiative and started volunteering doing odd jobs and shopping for supplies (she still loves shopping for RJI and herself). She is now our Administrative Coordinator; handling the email server, serving on volunteer teams, and leading the visuals for events. While serving God and RJI is a blessing; knowing the injustices people of this world face can become daunting. She draws encouragement from knowing that the God she serves loves justice more than anymore and that placing hope in Him and His plan never disappoints.

Fun facts about April: she is a single mom to a teenage son and 2 adorable furry girls with whiskers (yes, the latter are cats). She has been in the Richmond area since 2007 when she started nurse anesthesia school at VCU. She loved the area and stayed after she graduated. Other loves include bird hunting, hiking, hanging with family, reading, and worshipping The Lord.

Diane Pominski
Accountant
accounting@rvaji.com

Diane joined RJI as a volunteer to perform the bookkeeping tasks and support the Board on financial matters.  She learned of RJI and was motivated to support its mission to battle against human trafficking.   By trade, Diane works in Finance and Controlling and is currently Regional Controller for Evonik Nutrition and Care in Chesterfield county.  She has also served on the Board at her church and Henrico CASA, as well as spending 10+ years as a Girl Scout leader.

 

 

 

 

Founder

Sara Pomeroy,
Founder 

SaraAs Founder, Sara had the privilege of mobilizing and educating the Commonwealth’s community on the issue of modern day slavery in Virginia, and most importantly, how they can take action and affect change in our state.  She has spoken at universities, colleges, hospitals, pregnancy clinics, churches, forums, and symposiums on the issue. As the Richmond community began to take action other communities started to take notice, which resulted in the planting of 5 additional Justice Initiative teams who are thriving in and greatly impacting their respective communities around the Commonwealth. Sara has also been a driving force behind improving our states grade by partnering with a bi-partisan coalition of the Virginia General Assembly, and advocating the passing of vital state legislation that has strengthened the ability of our commonwealth to effectively prosecute those who enslave and treat others like commodities as well as to secure rescue and safety for the oppressed. Sara is also the Virginia State Justice Advocate for International Justice Mission. IJM is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Sara was born and raised in Michigan and has resided in Richmond, VA since 2002.  Sara served as Executive Director of RJI since its founding until January 2016.