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#5 in our series: Meet the Team! Here's Erica Boonstra.
On the Government Relations & Advocacy (GRA) team at IJM, we are always interested in getting to know you and talking about how you can get involved in the fight to end slavery, but we realize that it might be nice for you to get to know our team, too! So, we’ll be doing a little blog series, featuring Q&A with each member of the GRA department. This will be your backstage pass to our legislative and advocacy programs, and an opportunity to learn more about the men and women who make up the team.
How it will work: Clara Campbell, GRA's Online Campaigns Manager, will interview each of the members of the team. There will be a mix of serious and fun questions, and ideally, after reading each post, you'll feel like you have a better idea who we are.
Meet Erica Boonstra, Senior Advocacy Manager.
Q: You’re a specialist of sorts, having been at IJM for a number of years now, and having played a wide variety of roles over the years. Take us through your time at the organization – including what you do now?
A: I started at IJM just over 6 years ago. My first position was an the intern for the Government Relations & Advocacy Department. After that, I spent a little bit of time on the Field Operations team, supporting our offices in Southeast Asia. But for the last five years, I’ve been in my current role as Senior Advocacy Manager. My boss calls it the “utility player job” because I work on a number of different types of projects, but my favorite work is developing advocacy strategies with our US team, as well as with our advocacy teams overseas.
Q: Why IJM? What has drawn you to stay with this work and this organization?
A: One of my majors in college was International Development, and I knew I wanted to work for an international organization. But I’ve also considered a career in academia (I love school!). I feel like IJM is on the cutting edge of this field, constantly advancing the international development community’s understanding of how violence affects poverty. So I feel like we are constantly innovating and learning new things through our monitoring and evaluation and research, which feeds my nerdy interests. I also love that we are able to take that data and those lessons learned and develop real policy solutions; in other words, we take this brand new information that we’ve learned from our field work and use it to get governments to develop better programs to protect the poor.
Q: What is an IJM client story that you found moving or inspiring?
A: I am really passionate about our work to end property grabbing in places like Uganda. Grace’s story is a great example. I am really passionate about women’s empowerment, and I think property grabbing demonstrates how violence against the poor can undermine all of our important efforts to empower women around the world.
Q: Let’s talk about your life outside of work. Where are you from?
A: I’m originally from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. As much as Washington has grown on me, I am definitely still a Midwesterner at heart.
Q: Nice! Give us two restaurant recommendations – one for Chicago, your hometown, and one for DC, your other hometown.
A: My favorite restaurant in DC is Thai Xing (“Thai Crossing”). It’s a little prix fixe hole-in-the-wall Thai place. In other words, you sit down and they just start bringing you food—my ideal dining experience. In Chicago, if we want the classic Chicago deep dish pizza, my family usually recommends Pizano’s (confession: I don’t actually like deep dish). One of the best meals I’ve had in Chicago was with my sister at Longman & Eagle.
Q: What’s next on your reading list?
A: I just picked up The Orphan Master’s Son, which is a Pulitzer winner about North Korea. I’m excited to start it!
Q: I love quotes, and I know you like to read a lot. Will you share one of your favorites?
A: Ok, I have two. First Shakespeare (my other college major was English): “How far the little candle throws its beam. So shines a good deed in a weary world.” Second this quote by Karen Blixen: “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, and the sea.” Though I might have to add coffee to that list as well.
Get to know the other members of our team by reading our other posts in this series!
Meet Kate Case, IJM Government Relations & Advocacy - Field Organizer
Meet Seth Wispelwey, IJM Government Relations & Advocacy - Organizing Director, East
Meet Eileen Campbell, IJM Government Relations & Advocacy - Senior Director of Advocacy
Meet Tim Gehring, IJM Government Relations & Advocacy - Legislative Affairs Manager
Meet Melanie Beilfuss - Melanie is sadly no longer with IJM, but Government Relations & Advocacy Vice President, Holly Burkhalter, has a new Executive Assistant. Her name is Opa Owiye; look out for more about her soon!