Jana Kiser, Global Learning Founder and President of the Board of Directors
Jana Kiser is Global Learning’s founder and president of the board of directors. Born in Puerto Rico, Jana grew up in the Caribbean and Petaluma, California. Jana started Global Learning (GL) when she was a nineteen-year-old undergraduate college student. Over the past thirteen years, she has led Global Learning from a team of fourteen volunteers teaching in one school in Costa Rica to an organization that has improved the lives of approximately six hundred volunteers, inspired more than twenty thousand children in four countries, set a precedent for community development based on true collaboration, and is on the cutting edge of empowering pedagogy.
While directing Global Learning, Jana earned a bachelor’s degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Limerick in Ireland (supported by the prestigious George Mitchell Scholarship), and a master’s degree in International Educational Policy from Harvard University.
These are noteworthy accomplishments in any circumstance, but especially because Jana spent ten years working fulltime for Global Learning without monetary compensation. In order to make ends meet, Jana often worked other jobs. She has served as a visiting professor of English at the University of Costa Rica; taught traditional navigation and history on a tall ship sailboat in California; taught multicultural science at the Headlands Institute, an outdoor school; collaborated on an interdisciplinary education project on globalization at Harvard’s Project Zero; and led a variety of peace and justice projects in Latin America, Europe and the United States. Always committed to growing as a leader, Jana brought lessons from these varied experiences back to Global Learning. Jana’s commitment to Global Learning has set an organizational ethos based on ingenuity, cooperation, and dedication that characterizes the history of the organization and guides its future.
As her teammates know well, Jana’s vision, contagious laugh, strength, integrity, and humanity shape Global Learning programs as much as her intellect and work ethic. Here are some volunteers’ words:
“Jana showed me, most of all, that no matter what I do, where I go that without compassion for those around and involved with me, I will in fact go nowhere.”
“Jana’s eloquence, grace, empathy, and vision make her a powerful woman in insight and action.”
“Jana’s kind and gentle spirit, paired with her enthusiasm and zest for life, learning, and teaching give her the unique ability to inspire and empower those around her. She possesses the ability to cultivate a strong sense of unity among groups of diverse individuals, while at the same time celebrating the worth and input of each person.”
“I have had the extreme pleasure of working with Jana Kiser for the past 10 years and closely observing how she has done an excellent job of managing Global Learning through intense periods of growth and change. In addition to being one of the most caring, charismatic, intelligent, ethical, passionate and creative people I have ever met, she is extremely familiar with education, human rights, development and gender issues in Latin America, ranging from in-depth insight into the NGO world to vast knowledge regarding education theory and methodologies. Her high energy is contagious and her dedication to ensuring equal involvement and engagement from the international volunteers, children and community members in each GL program has led to her being considered a leader in the communities where she works and GL being seen as an organization at the forefront of student-centered learning and community driven development internationally.”