Joy Olson Consulting

What I Bring

– More than 20 years of experience running human rights advocacy NGOs. I help a wide range of organizations work through problems, manage change; and, create and carryout multi-sectoral advocacy strategies.

– Experience throughout the Americas and Caribbean; fluency in Spanish; regional cultural competency; and subject matter expert in foreign policy, human rights, organized crime, immigration, security/defense, and drug policy. The experience of having testified before the US Congress on 7 occasions.

– A masters degree in Latin American Studies from the Political and Social Sciences School of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). A regular column in the Mexican newspaper La Reforma’s English language site – Mexico Today.

What I Do

Program Development and Facilitation

Help organizations and foundations develop and execute advocacy strategies, facilitate collaborative work, and develop new programs in areas of my expertise.

Recent examples include:

  • Facilitation of a non-governmental Ad Hoc Group on Venezuela that seeks to encourage a negotiated resolution of the current conflict and support for humanitarian assistance to that country.
  • For the Luminate foundation, exploration of a new program area on protection for mixed migrant populations, with a focus on migrant kidnapping impacting Central America, Mexico, and the US. Established related advocacy efforts.
  • For Save the Children, developed and began implementation of short and long-term organizational strategies in response to President Trump’s Zero Tolerance policy separating migrant families.
  • An assessment of Church World Service’s support for community-based advocacy efforts in the Chaco region of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia.

Organizational Management and Change

Work with foundations and non-profit organizations to assess and work through organizational issues.

Recent examples include:

  • Coaching non-profit program and executive directors.
  • Design and execution of a strategic review for the Global Network Initiative and facilitating a decision-making process with this multi-stakeholder initiative.
  • Production of a major scoping study for a US foundation exploring the establishment of a regional funding strategy in Latin America. Study covered nine countries and regional analysis and involved subcontracting and managing consultants in all nine countries. As a result, the foundation established a Latin America program focus.  
  • Helping the Open Society Foundation integrate its drug policy work streams. Work included scoping opportunities for integrated collaboration in five US states. Project resulted in new funding opportunities.
  • Surveying the Open Society Foundation’s Global Drug Policy Program grantees and developing recommendations for collaboration between global and regional work under a new organizational structure.
  • Surveying Oxfam International’s Central America offices and making recommendations for regional reorganization.
  • Facilitating an annual staff retreat for Access Now.

My Background

For more than 20 years, I ran non-profit organizations working on US foreign policy toward Latin America that encouraged human rights and social justice. I worked closely with counterpart organizations, academics, and government officials throughout the region, often developing collaborative advocacy strategies.

From 2003-2016 I was the Executive Director of the Washington Office on Latin America. I developed and carried out two long-term strategic plans; rebuilt the organization leading it out of a financial crisis; restructured the organization’s development program, increased fundraising, and doubled the budget (to $3.5 million); and oversaw a staff of 25 with an additional dozen volunteers and consultants. 

I established new programs on human rights and organized crime, and security/defense which became hallmarks of WOLA’s work; worked with colleagues in Guatemala to develop and successfully advocate for the first-of-a-kind UN body (the CICIG) to help investigate and prosecute organized crime; accompanied this process for more than a decade through many political attacks; established a program on border (US/Mexico) security and migration, collaborated with academics and NGOs on both sides of the border.  

Under my leadership WOLA refocused its unique drug policy program building collaborative dialogues, research networks, and corresponding communications strategies with counterparts throughout the United States, Latin America, and Europe.

Before running WOLA, I directed the Latin America Working Group, a coalition of 60 organizations that coordinated member advocacy with US officials. Chaired regular strategy meetings and developed common policy statements; used advocacy to help shape peace accord implementation programs in Central America; successfully advocated for lifting restrictions on the sale of food and medicine to Cuba by the United States; created a research program to encourage greater transparency on US military programs and successfully advocated for corresponding legislation that resulted in the annual US government’s Foreign Military Training Report; and supported passage of the Leahy Law restricting US military assistance to human rights abusers and tracked its implementation.

Clients (current and former)

Global Network Initiative

Urban Institute

Oxfam International

Open Society Foundations Global Drug Policy Program

Open Society – US Program

Open Society Foundations Latin America Program

Save the Children

Associación para una Sociedad más Justa (ASJ)

Washington Office on Latin America

CIDE – Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica

Church World Service

Access Now

Luminate Group

Center for Democracy in the Americas

Contact Me