Jillian Hanesworth was born and raised on the East Side of Buffalo NY. She developed a passion for advocacy and justice at a very young age, and although she did not know what career path she would end up following, she was certain that the only way she would be fulfilled is by doing work that would help people in her community.
As the Director of Leadership Development, Jillian focuses on programming designed to equip people in the community with the necessary tools to help create sustainable community change. Jillian feels that developing leaders in the City of Buffalo is a crucial key in advancing racial, economic, and ecological justice.
Prior to her role at Open Buffalo, Jillian worked as a counselor and advocate for survivors of interpersonal violence. Jillian also worked in the Dept. of Social Services, the Domestic Violence Shelter, Erie County Integrated Domestic Violence Court, and at Trocaire College managing a Department of Justice grant. Her work as an advocate has strengthened her ability to identify systemic issues, advocate for change, and provide individuals with the skills to self-advocate.
In addition to her role at Open Buffalo, Jillian is also a social justice spoken word artist and the 2020 inaugural Poet Laureate of Juneteenth on Jefferson. Jillian uses her poetry to not only advance social justice, but to educate and inspire listeners to be an active participant for the advancements we need in the city, state, and country.
Photo by Alana Adetola Arts Photography, LLC.