***Announcement*** Protect Our Defenders’ Next Chapter
We have a lot to celebrate. As we reflect on the historic accomplishments we’ve all made to enact a professional and more fair U.S. Military Justice System, we pause to give thanks to all those who made this possible. From members of Congress and their staff, to brave survivors, advocacy partners, pro bono attorneys, and allies within the Department of Defense itself – we’ve all worked so hard to advance the cause of justice for all the women and men serving in the U.S. Armed Services.
We’ve accomplished much of what we set out to do when I founded Protect Our Defenders more than a decade ago. And we’ve been thinking about what comes next.
We know there is important work ahead to ensure the successful implementation of these hard-won reforms. We also know that even with these improved laws and procedures, new survivors will keep coming to us every day with urgent requests for help. Looking to the future, we want to serve as many of these survivors as possible. With that in mind, our Board of Directors has embraced a renewed focus on building our capacity to support survivors through an expanded pro bono legal network while continuing to work with all parties to ensure the successful implementation of the legislated reforms. This will allow us to scale up our services to assist the people who need our help most.
This new direction is accompanied by several changes in our team:
- Jennifer Elmore will assume the role of President and CEO of Protect Our Defenders effective immediately. Jennifer, a POD board member, is a survivor herself who originally came to POD for help with her own case. An eloquent public advocate for victims’ rights, she is the recipient of the U.S. Department of Justice Special Courage Award. Jennifer’s leadership skills, acquired through a long career in banking where she served as Managing Director of Abbot Downing, a wealth management subsidiary of Wells Fargo, and as the founder of Adolos, LLC, a private wealth management firm, are perfectly suited to POD’s new direction. In all these endeavors, Jennifer has successfully emphasized collaboration with others in the pursuit of the mission.
- Don Christensen, POD President, is departing the organization to consider how best to reapply his twin passions for reforming the military justice system and bringing justice to survivors. Don has been an invaluable part of POD’s success as a powerful spokesperson, deeply knowledgeable advisor, and highly skilled attorney. We wish Don well and look forward to his allyship advancing our shared cause of justice for survivors and all members of the U.S. military. Thanks to Don’s contributions, POD has acquired the capacity to continue to provide casework assistance, support, and expertise to the survivors who come to us for assistance.
Finally, effective today, I will step back from my day-to-day duties managing POD. As the founder of this organization, it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as Protect Our Defenders’ CEO and work alongside such a devoted group of survivors, staff, and allies for justice. This community means more to me than words can ever express. I am humbled by all that we’ve been able to accomplish, and I look forward to supporting this team’s efforts as POD Board Chair in the years to come. I am so excited about POD’s next chapter!
We have worked together, fought together, shed tears together, healed together, and put our shoulders to move this enormous wheel of progress together. And together, I know that we won’t leave any survivors behind.
Yours in solidarity – now and forever,
Chairman of the Board