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50 for 50: Catalyst Award - Janelle Lassonde

By Opportunity International

As Opportunity International was first piloting its Education Finance programs, Janelle Lassonde served on the steering committee for the Banking on Africa campaign—helping us grow our footprint in a new region and establish banking infrastructure that would allow clients to not only borrow, but also save. Leveraging her professional experience as a banker in sub-Saharan Africa, Janelle brought a depth of wisdom and insight to this pivotal campaign.

As she learned more about Opportunity’s goals to serve students and their families, Janelle knew she wanted to be involved. Her existing passion for education led her to devote her time and expertise to helping this nascent program gain traction.

Janelle put her vote of confidence in the program by chairing a $25M campaign to significantly grow what was, at the time, a new and small initiative. Over the next five years, Janelle invested countless hours of time and talent leading this effort and engaging support for EduFinance through activities, advocacy, and fundraising. 

Through it all, Janelle’s passion for education—and belief in the EduFinance model—remained a motivating force for the entire Opportunity community. The successful Schools of Opportunity campaign involved every one of Opportunity’s supporting members around the world. 

At our Education Webinar on August 18, 2021, we were honored to present Janelle with the Catalyst Award for her steadfast support and leadership of Opportunity’s Education Finance initiatives. The Catalyst Award recognizes those who were instrumental in building one of Opportunity’s pillar programs with gifts of time, talent, and treasure.

“It’s a real thrill to inspire and mobilize other changemakers to join us in this,” Janelle shared. “It is so wonderful to work with the extraordinary people of Opportunity International—people who are smart and wise and humble and just a lot of fun. This is a dream that has come true, just to see the fruit of these efforts.” 

We are so grateful to Janelle for her leadership, advocacy, and relentless support—and to the countless families who joined her to invest in Education Finance from its earliest days. Through their support, the program has grown to finance nearly 9,000 schools, partner with nearly 60 financial service providers, and reach 2.8 million children around the world in the last year alone. We are thrilled to now welcome Janelle in her new role as a member of Opportunity International's Board of Directors


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