A Letter from Jennifer Brea: Meet Our New Executive Director!

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Last November, I announced that I was stepping down as Executive Director of #MEAction to focus on my health and well-being. Since then, our entire Board of Directors, including myself and #MEAction co-founder Beth Mazur, have led a wide search for the right person to lead #MEAction into the future and grow our community’s capacity to fight for recognition, education, and research

I am thrilled to share that we have found that passionate, committed, experienced leader … I would like to introduce you to #MEAction’s new Executive Director, Julia Miele.

For the majority of her career, Julia has been committed to public health and advocacy. She was also a caregiver and an advocate from the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. #MEAction has always looked to the HIV/AIDS movement for inspiration, and we have learned so much. 

Julia brings to us 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Most recently, she led The Gabriella Foundation, an arts organization that transforms lives and communities through the power of high-quality dance education in low-income areas of Los Angeles. Prior to that, Julia served as Executive Director of the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside. At the YWCA, Julia spearheaded organizational efforts to become a respected convener of programs and partners working to empower women, girls, and families at every life stage and turning point. 

Before that, Julia worked on HIV/AIDS, family planning, and maternal/child health programs with Population Services International in Washington, DC and India. After returning from overseas, Julia served as Director of Community Services for the American Cancer Society (ACS.) At ACS, she led a small staff and a mighty team of volunteers in cancer education, patient service programs, and community-wide fundraising events to support cancer research.

I have confidence that Julia’s experience, empathy, and commitment to social justice will lead #MEAction through its next stage of development for our critical mission. Since we launched in 2015, we have grown from an online platform to a robust organization with volunteer teams across the world. Julia will help us transition from our “start up” phase, building a strong foundation that will allow #MEAction to grow and thrive for many years to come. 

As a board member, I am also looking forward to working with her, our volunteers and community members, and our entire Board of Directors to develop a strategic plan for the organization. The plan will envision how we can best serve our community’s broader mission, uniting long-time people with ME and newly-ill post-COVID patients, in these pandemic times.

Our organization is, as ever, committed to centering the voices, experience, and leadership of people with ME in all of our work and at every level of our organization. People with ME and their caregivers comprise the majority of our volunteers, staff, and board members. Julia shares and supports our organizational commitment to putting people with ME first. She is a compassionate listener, and I know she is very eager to learn from and work with all of you.

To that end, she would love to hear from you! Feel free to email her at [email protected]. I hope you will join me in extending to her a very warm welcome to our incredible community! 

Lastly, I want to thank YOU for sticking by us. You have supported us with your time, resources, and heart. You have mobilized each and every time we put out the call. You have helped us to achieve so much these first five years.

It is no small thing for the founders of an organization to have the opportunity to hand over leadership to a new Executive Director. #MEAction growing and thriving to reach this exciting new stage was not inevitable. 

 You helped make that possible. 

It is with recognition of your generosity, your sacrifice, your love and devotion—to this cause and to one another—and with compassionate witness of all that we as a community have suffered, that I express my deepest gratitude to you. 

You have made possible the exponential growth of our movement and the change that we have begun to see happen around the world. I cannot wait to see, over these next five years, what all of us will do and achieve, together! 

In solidarity,  

Jen

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