New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice Announces Leadership Transition

New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice Announces Leadership Transition

Johanna Calle will be transitioning out of the Director role with Maneesha Kelkar serving as Interim Director while the Executive Committee conducts a search to fill the permanent director position.                           

Newark, NJ--Tuesday, March 24th, 2020-- The New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ) is announcing its leadership change with Johanna Calle transitioning out for a new opportunity in early April. Calle served as the Director from 2018-2020 and previously as the Program Coordinator since the founding of the Alliance in 2014. The NJAIJ Executive Committee has planned a smooth transition, which will start with Maneesha Kelkar joining as the Interim Director. The Executive Committee will be conducting a search to fill the permanent director position in the upcoming months.

Under Calle’s tenure, the Alliance membership grew to nearly 40 member organizations and three staff members. The Alliance has achieved Municipal ID programs throughout the state making New Jersey the leading state with the most of such programs in the nation. Additionally, the Alliance advocated for the Attorney General’s “Immigrant Trust” Directive that limits the role of local law enforcement in immigration enforcement, building trust with immigrant communities. Lastly, the Alliance fought for five years as a coalition, leading the Let’s Drive NJ campaign and won driver’s licenses for all legislation in 2019, benefiting nearly half-a-million residents statewide. 

"Johanna Calle truly led the NJAIJ into the incredible victories of these past few years that for decades were unimaginable. She has built a strong foundation that will serve us in the years to come. Even in these shifting times, we know her work will endure and we will be well guided in the interim thanks to Maneesha Kelkar. We are sad to see Johanna leave and yet we go forward in the confidence of her work and vision that will endure,” said Reverend Dr. Robin Tanner of Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation and Co-Chair of the NJAIJ Executive Committee. 

“While it is sad to be leaving an organization that has been a major part of my life for nearly six years, I am grateful that I had the pleasure of working with a legion of tireless fighters who believe that everyone should live in this country with dignity and respect, regardless of where they were born. This is a personal fight for me and I will always fight for the community that I love and has given me so much,” said Johanna Calle, out-going director of the New Jersey Alliance For Immigrant Justice.  

As the incoming Interim Director of the Alliance, Kelkar will be overseeing the operations and development of the Alliance, providing continuity and stability while the Executive Committee conducts a search for the director position. 

Kelkar has nearly two decades of experience in leadership roles in New Jersey community-based nonprofit organizations. Previously, Kelkar served as the Executive Director of Jersey Promise, a policy, education and advocacy organization elevating the voices of Asian Americans in New Jersey. She is also the former Executive Director of Manavi, the pioneering South Asian organization in the US dedicated to ending gender-based violence.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead NJAIJ through this leadership transition. Immigrant concerns are critical now more than ever, and I look forward to helping strengthen the excellent foundational work established by Johanna Calle, the Executive Committee and membership of NJAIJ,” said Maneesha Kelkar, incoming Interim Director of the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice.