Jessica is Director of Programmes at the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) based in Accra, Ghana. She has worked for over 15 years supporting activist organisations, funders and the UN to deepen analysis, shape policy and funding, and refine interventions to defend women's rights to health, bodily autonomy and freedom from violence. This includes 10 years in women's rights and social change philanthropy as a grantmaker, in donor governance and advisory roles, and as grants assessor and evaluator.
Through her consultancy, Akiiki Consulting, Jessica worked as a technical lead in ground-breaking initiatives, including in social justice philanthropy with the creation of UHAI-EASHRI, the first African-led fund supporting the rights of sexual minorities, and in early thinking around funding models for FRIDA –The Young Feminist Fund. From 2005 to 2007 Jessica managed funding for women's rights and minority rights at the Sigrid Rausing Trust, one of the largest private human rights funders in Europe, overseeing substantial growth in both funding portfolios. She is also former Coordinator of Amanitare (the African Partnership for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women and Girls) and Rights. Jessica joined AWDF from the Stephen Lewis Foundation where she has served as Senior Advisor to AIR, the African Institute for Integrated Responses to Violence Against Women & Girls & HIV/AIDS.
Jessica is a founding member of the African Feminist Forum Working Group, a board member of Urgent Action Fund-Africa, and sits on the International Grants Committee of Comic Relief. In 2012 she was named an African woman changemaker by ARISE Magazine and one of Applause Africa's 40 African Changemakers under 40. Her research and analysis has been published in professional journals The Lancet and Feminist Africa, and media platforms Al Jazeera, openDemocracy and The Feminist Wire. She is the author of two monographs on the impact of Christian fundamentalism on women's rights in Africa, and authored the overview report for the BRIDGE Cutting Edge Pack on Gender and Social Movements. She is also a published poet.