Rain is pouring, and the drought-conditioned enizens of Los Angeles are happily opening their usually neglected umbrellas, striding along soggy sidewalks into upscale buildings like the one Jessica Jackley ’00 is entering.
NeueHouse, a members-only shared workspace/social club
in a soaring 1930s landmark on Sunset Boulevard, is where
Jackley finds the headspace to work on plans for her new
venture as well as for an old pursuit, poetry.
In two weeks, she’ll be moving nearby to a 110-year old
Craftsman “fixer-upper,” as she calls it, with a view of the
San Gabriel Mountains that is nothing less than sublime.
There, she and husband Reza Aslan, a highly regarded public
intellectual and author who, like Jackley, is also a university
professor, and their three boys — 4-year-old identical twins
Jaspar and Cyrus, and 1-year-old Asa — will have room to
stretch out. The house is the first she’s owned, making it her
second major first in the last year. The other was publishing
her autobiographical paean to social entrepreneurship, CLAY
Do the Most with the Least.
Published last summer, the book illustrates the tenacity
of Jackley and the low-income entrepreneurs she first met in
2004 while working for Village Enterprise, a California-based
nonprofit focused on microenterprise development in East
Africa. A few months prior, she was at Stanford, where she
handled marketing and strategic planning for the Center for
Social Innovation in the Graduate School of Business (and
where she would later earn her MBA). Jackley had “one of
those rare, ‘aha’ moments” listening to Muhammad Yunus
speak about microfinance and the founding of the Grameen
Bank. She writes in CLAY WATER BRICK that Yunus
challenged her to think differently about “alleviating poverty
… one person at a time, through a series of small, discrete
steps … catalyzed with a small loan and support along an
In 2005, she began traveling her own entrepreneurial path
by launching Kiva, one of the first efforts at person-to-person
Jessica Jackley ’00 enjoys family time
with, from left, husband Reza Aslan,
Asa, Cyrus and Jaspar.