Below is a message from our board. Jamie’s letter to the Circles community is posted here.
On March 1st, Jamie Haft informed the board that she was stepping down as executive director of Circles USA. We will miss her. Jamie has offered Circles her expertise, commitment, and leadership over the past four years. Building a strong team, Jamie oversaw the development of a vibrant network of chapters, forged important national collaborations, and stabilized our financial base.
The board is committed to a smooth transition and is currently undertaking a search process to identify the next executive director. Jamie’s end date will be April 30th and she has offered to be an ongoing resource going forward. We can’t thank Jamie enough and wish her the best of luck as she pursues the next steps of her career. As you will see below, Jamie’s colleagues offer her deserved high praise and affection. We are appreciative that the Circles management team is equally committed to building on our work today and in the future.
Joan A. Kuriansky
Board Chair, Circles USA
Jamie joined the Circles USA team to enable our founder of 20+ years to transition from CEO to consultant. She brought an asset-based approach to leadership and an inclusive style of collaboration. Over the course of four years, Circles chapter membership grew from 68 to 80 locations in the United States, and from 5 to 19 locations in Canada. To sustain mutual aid during the pandemic, chapters received support to transfer in-person meetings to virtual connection.
Under Jamie’s tenure, we gave attention to our “Big View” work that removes the systemic barriers that trap people in poverty. We organized a non-partisan campaign for civic engagement and published a policy platform. We forged groundbreaking partnerships to mitigate the cliff effect and promote empathy-based dialogue. To date, more than 750 Circles volunteers have completed our various upgraded training programs about structural racism and gender inequity.
Our many recent advancements in data collection and analysis are documented in past Impact Reports, including several significant collaborations with academic institutions. All this success is shared by Jamie and the entire Circles community. She leaves Circles USA in a strong financial position, ready to reach its next level of impact.
Since it’s a Circles tradition to close experiences with a round of “appreciations,” we express gratitude to Jamie as she concludes her time as our executive director.
“Jamie consistently works with integrity and professionalism. She brought a sense of stability and calmness to the organization as the founder transitioned out of day-to-day leadership. Jamie is great at synthesizing complex ideas into an understandable, actionable plan–and then she follows through to make sure the plan is achieved in an organized way. I appreciate Jamie’s whole-hearted commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I have learned a lot from Jamie and I wish her the best.”
—Jennifer Pelling, CUSA Board Member
“Any executive director who follows immediately after the founder of the organization has some mighty big shoes to fill; however, Jamie brought such grace and skill to her position that the transition was smooth. Personally, I’ve appreciated Jamie’s thoughtful approach to every opportunity that came across our table. She has been a calming presence of discernment that helped me to give my best as well. She guided our staff to make wise choices, to maintain the integrity of our services, and to continue to improve what we offer in a mindful way.”
—Kamatara Johnson, CUSA Chief Learning Officer
“Jamie has been a calm and steady leader during her time with Circles. She worked closely with each of us on different aspects of the organization. One thing that stands out to me is our annual impact report—it’s truly a story of the people we serve. It’s been a pleasure to work with her. Jamie, all the best in your next chapter!”
—Gena Atcher, CUSA National Membership Coordinator
“Working alongside Jamie has been a wonderful experience. She always provided support and guidance to her team, and it has assisted in my personal and professional growth. Jamie took on the role of an executive director with such vision, creativity, and understanding. Jamie, I look forward to hearing about the amazing work that you will continue to do in your life.”
—Courtney Cowan, CUSA Information Systems and Design Manager
“It has been a pleasure to work with Jamie. Her dedication to the mission and leadership has moved Circles USA to the next level and provided a foundation for us to build on going forward. She will be missed!”
—Chris Tinney, CUSA Ambassador
“Jamie was a first-rate CEO. She has vision, a broad set of management skills, and the ability develop a strategy and to make it happen. She is an excellent communicator. She writes clearly and succinctly and speaks the same way. She can think of options to deal with any situation. She has a calming presence. I am the last one sending in comments and upon reading what my colleagues have written – I agree with it all.”
—Jim Masters, CUSA Board Member
On behalf of the entire Circles community, we wish you well in all your future endeavors, Jamie! We look forward to staying connected.