JRI, a nonprofit provider of trauma-informed care to children and families in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, has announced the addition of Monalisa Smith, Founder, President and CEO of Mothers for Justice and Equality (MJE), to its Board of Trustees.

“Monalisa has a deep commitment to the pursuit of social justice and a breadth of experience as a community leader and capacity builder, and these align so well with JRI’s focus,” said Andy Pond, President of JRI. “She has a history of bringing together individuals who have suffered through life’s most challenging experiences and has all the qualities of a leader. She will bring these important qualities to our Board.”

After the loss of her nephew due to violence in 2010, Smith founded MJE, a non-profit agency aiming to eradicate local violence in Boston neighborhoods by educating and engaging individuals and families within those communities. She and other mothers, many of whom suffered through the loss of their own child, joined together to make it their mission to end neighborhood violence by empowering mothers and youth to become effective catalysts for change.

For seven years now, Smith has been passionately engaged in every facet of the organization including administration, finance, fundraising, communications and human resources management. During this time, she has received the City of Boston award for Community Leadership as well as the Madison Park Development Corporation “Catalyst for Change” YMCA Black Achievers award.

“A few years ago I was introduced to the amazing team at JRI and immediately saw the positive impact they have on the communities they serve and work with,” said Smith. “It is a true honor to be a member of this board. I am really looking forward to being a part of JRI’s trauma resiliency efforts as well as its community engagement programs, as my passion for bringing individuals together and giving them purpose aligns with JRI’s vision.”

Prior to founding MJE, Smith served as State Director of Community Investment for Citizens Bank, Massachusetts. Her responsibilities included directing the development and implementation of a community investment program, creating and managing a faith-based lending portfolio and managing over $32 million in deposit balances. During her time there she received the Citizens Bank Area of Excellence Award for Outstanding Community Leadership and Involvement.

Smith holds a B.A. in Business Management from Simmons College and has received Executive Leadership Training from Babson College. She is also author of the book, Reflections to My Sisters, which details stories of mothers and their daughters overcoming some of life’s greatest challenges. She currently resides in Dorchester, Massachusetts with her husband and three children.


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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.