jenny ramo
These houses are absolutely amazing. You have to see them!

For Jenny Ramo ’88, community service has been an important part of life since her days at Albuquerque Academy.

“I was deeply involved with the community service club at the Academy,” says Jenny. “I remember having the opportunity to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House while I was a student and it was a wonderful experience.”

Jenny says it is opportunities like that one that make Albuquerque Academy such a great school. “It’s one of the most wonderful places, ever!” says Jenny, who attended the Academy for grades 10-12. “The Academy is a such a special place and so supportive of students’ interests.”

This exposure to community service marked the beginning of a lifelong commitment to helping others. After earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Southern California, Jenny went to work for the administration of former President Bill Clinton, helping to establish AmeriCorps.

Then, as a recipient of a Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, Jenny had the opportunity to experience, firsthand, many of the public policy issues affecting communities around the country. “It was an amazing opportunity,” she says. “I was able to work in various sectors, from farming in California to immigration in Florida.”

These experiences led Jenny to Law School at Tulane University in New Orleans. While living there, she met her future-husband, David Katz, at Jazz Fest. In 2009, Jenny, David, and the first of their two sons, moved to Albuquerque.

Jenny accepted a position as the executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the lives of the poor and underserved through systemic change. Part of a national network of centers dedicated to finding solutions to poverty, Jenny started the New Mexico center from scratch.

Jenny and New Mexico Appleseed have been successful in designing and advocating for effective solutions through policy, legislative, and market-based reform. Last year, they proposed and advocated for the passage of the nation’s first Breakfast After the Bell law, enabling children at high poverty elementary schools to access a nutritious breakfast during the first few minutes of the instructional day.

More recently, New Mexico Appleseed launched a pilot for the Keeping Families Together Initiative, which seeks to provide a stable foundation for unstable families that are both homeless and have lost or are at risk of losing their children to foster care.

While much of Jenny’s work addresses some of the saddest aspects of our society, there is room for a little fun, she says. New Mexico Appleseed’s latest fundraiser, Parade of Playhouses, is one example. “We asked 10 of New Mexico’s best architects and designers to build over-the-top playhouses that will be auctioned off in May,” says Jenny. “These houses are absolutely amazing. You have to see them!”

The houses will be on display at the Albuquerque Zoo from April 25-May 5, but the auction will be held at a gala event on May 2.“Nine of the houses will be auctioned off, the 10th house will be raffled.” Details on how to buy a raffle ticket, make an online bid for a house, or get tickets for the gala, as well as renderings and floor plans of the houses, are available here.

Jenny says New Mexico Appleseed is always looking for volunteers and she would love to see some of her old Academy friends come out and volunteer. If you are interested, contact Jenny.