In this series, we spotlight our four extraordinary Circles USA Board members: the governance team who oversees CUSA operations, advises on strategic directions, and contributes to specific projects that enhance what CUSA has to offer to its community of practice. Examples include upgrading our website, brochures, and curriculum, developing our Big View policy platform to advance systemic change based on chapter input, and connecting with national partner organizations like Ideos to strengthen our capacity for generative dialogue. While our network will not be surprised by our Board’s commitment to CUSA, we hope the scope of their collective knowledge and experience—from public policy to community organizing and spiritual leadership—will delight and inspire you.
Joan Kuriansky, Chair of the Circles USA Board since May 2007, is the creator of our 6-point policy platform addressing six key issues our chapters flagged as high priority for poverty alleviation. She has worked in the social justice field throughout her versatile career as an attorney; executive director of local and national non-profits; and board member or volunteer at local, national, and international levels.
Joan’s primary focus has been on the rights of women and girls, including moving from poverty to economic security. As Executive Director of Women Against Abuse (Phil. PA); the Older Women’s League (DC); and Wider Opportunities for Women (DC), she has addressed issues facing women as they age. These include social security and pension reform; violence against women; health care reform; and many issues related to economic self-sufficiency for women and families (like jobs, job training, child care, and tax policy).
Joan brings a Jewish lens to supporting issues of social justice and human rights to the U.S., Israel, and other countries; particularly those in Russia and Ukraine.
“ I am a Circles Board member,” Joan tells us, “because I believe its approach to ending poverty
is unique—the best in the field of anti-poverty work. We begin on a one-to-one level in building individual families’ economic well-being. And we work at a community level, building allies and, importantly, drawing on these experiences and relationships to make systemic long-term change that will reduce barriers for other families.
I look forward to participating in Circle’s ongoing Big View efforts. It ensures that we reflect and respect the diversity of our country, whether from a racial, economic, religious, age, sexual orientation, or gender basis. This work builds the sustainability of Circles USA, promoting even greater community among the different parts of Circles and our communities as it strives towards more equitable outcomes for all.”