Jill Suzanne Kornetsky is a Harvard-trained laboratory scientist, a Brandeis-trained social scientist, a US Department of State and Melikian Center Graduate Fellow in Persian Language and Culture, and a MENSAN. Jill has been a Subject Matter Expert on Afghanistan for over a decade, with seven of those years spent independently ‘boots on the ground’ and ‘outside the wire.’ She describes herself as a Social Entrepreneur, an Ally of Afghanistan, a Persian Viking (by blood), and a Chaotic Good.
Jill is the founder of Integrity Afghanistan, a small management consultancy in Kabul; Homestead Afghanistan, a 501c3 nonprofit focused on self-reliance, food security, and women’s empowerment in rural Afghanistan; and Persian Viking Minerals, Afghanistan’s first Mineral Benefit Corporation, built to harness Afghanistan’s natural resource wealth as an engine for sustainable livelihoods and responsible development, in-country.
Jill left Afghanistan on August 27th, to evacuate her assistant, after the Taliban visited his parents on their family farm and threatened his life, twice, for working with ‘The Americans.’ She is returning to Kabul later this month - where her office, remaining staff, and cats (“three cats, ten legs”) are waiting - to fulfill the long-term commitment she has made to working directly with, and for, the Afghan people.
Jill’s first seven years in Afghanistan were spent as a Monitoring and Evaluation Project Manager, an executive, consultant, and probono advisor to expat and Afghan businesspeople and government officials. She was the acting technical director of Afghanistan’s anticorruption agency, until it became clear that the agency itself was irreparably corrupted; the promise that she would be allowed to repair its broken policies and procedures was a false one, her presence and citizenship sought out only to whitewash it’s activities. She witnessed, firsthand and on a daily basis, the pervasive levels of corruption and mismanagement that undoubtedly contributed to the fall of the GIROA government.
Jill has written and edited academic papers, authored book chapters, given guest lectures and podcasts, contributed to research and analysis, and developed innovative aid and development concepts, all focused on Afghanistan. She continues to post about the situation in Afghanistan daily on LinkedIn, and is working with local and international partners on practical, feasible, and sustainable solutions for Afghanistan’s stabilization and development. She believes, despite all current crises and challenges, that the difficult work of development in Afghanistan must continue. The vast majority of Afghans never benefitted from international community interventions; the job remains unfinished and promises remain unfulfilled.
Jill believes wholeheartedly that her next years and decades in Afghanistan will be ones dedicated to incremental, scalable, and impactful nonprofit efforts and social enterprises. Disjointed, overpriced, half-cocked and ineffective “solutions” will be replaced with sincere, participatory, culturally-relevant and community-driven solutions. Box-ticking, short-term, profit-centered interventions will be replaced with comprehensive, long-term, people-centered platforms. Permissivity, nepotism and cronyism will be replaced with positive and cooperative role modeling, servant leadership, continual improvement and due diligence.
Jill believes that Afghanistan’s best days are yet to come; that a bright and prosperous future for all Afghan people is possible, and well within reach, if approached unselfishly and self-critically. Creating a Preferential Option for Afghanistan will not be easy; in fact, it will be understandably difficult, requiring long-term dedication, effort, investment, adaptation, and partnership. Before the events of August 2021, and with greater intensity since, Jill has been assembling a coalition of partners dedicated to this shared vision of Afghanistan’s better future. There is more room at the table; she invites individuals, organizations, foundations, grant makers, and all sincere allies to join her.