“Jamala was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Since she was young, she was inspired by the work of her namesake at Organization for Black Struggle and the organizing work of women in her family. In high school, she lobbied with Planned Parenthood in the Jefferson City, MO and the Capital in DC to maintain funding for the center and allow for comprehensive LGBT+ inclusive sex education in public schools. She graduated St. Louis University with a BA in political science and minor economics and from there was accepted as a Coro Fellow. As a fellow, she worked in a variety of local institutions ranging from the St. Louis Dept. of City Planning studying the historic significance of homes in her neighborhood to Legal Services of Eastern Missouri supporting their pilot project for domestic violence survivors.
Jamala moved to New York to pursue her master’s in urban policy at The New School and while in her program was accepted as a Neighborhood 360 Fellow at the NYC Department of Small Business Services supporting a Brooklyn-based business improvement district survey business owners coping with a gentrifying neighborhood and develop strategies to meet their needs. After graduating she worked in advocacy nonprofits related to Mayor De Blasio’s neighborhood rezonings at New Yorkers for Parks and Fifth Ave Committee providing technical assistance to local residents and studying existing conditions of these communities to argue for improvements. Now as the Research & Policy Coordinator at One Fair Wage she supports research elevating worker experiences and perspectives to the wider policy community for fundamental change in how workers are valued.