Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA) is an international not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to raising awareness about the damaging influence of five policies of the Watch Tower Society through respectful and well-informed activism. AAWA is also committed to offering help and support to those who are mentally and emotionally afflicted by the Society’s teachings and practices in whatever ways it can.
AAWA arose in early 2013 through a series of discussions between its founders, who all felt it was the right time to try to organize a number of like-minded individuals who were engaged in similar efforts into one cohesive unit. It was agreed that an organization needed to be formed that could confront the Watchtower head-on, and serve as a focal point whenever future media stories arise so that the position of those affected by Watchtower policies can be articulated.
With so many activists around the world, all of whom offer unique skills and experience, it was felt that much meaningful work could be accomplished if all of these individuals could be connected as a team that could work together. It was decided very early on that AAWA would need to be religiously-neutral, in that it would not promote or endorse any religious or philosophical belief system in particular. Its sole purpose would be to shine a bright light on five of Watchtower’s harmful policies, and help thinking Witnesses break free from its clutches.
Who is behind AAWA?
As a legal organization, AAWA has a board of three corporate directors. They are:
The above directors are also members of a larger Advisory Board, which include:
Bo Juel Jensen – Bo is a prominent Ex-JW activist from Norway, and has appeared on Norwegian television explaining Watchtower’s mishandling of child abuse to the public in his country. A keen entrepreneur, Bo was one of the founders of the charity “Hjelpekilden” (Help Source), which (similar to AAWA) offers support to survivors of abuse by cults in Scandinavia. For more information on Bo, please click here. firstname.lastname@example.org
John Hoyle – John is a long-time activist and the founder of several Ex-JW websites including WatchtowerWatch.com and Ex-JW.com. From his home in central Oregon he lends his technical skills to a number of other websites. He helps grease the wheels of the Ex-JW Internet community by doing his best to ensure that the latest news and information about the Watchtower Society is available. email@example.com
The above ten individuals vary in age and come from a variety of backgrounds. Spread across three different continents, they are seasoned campaigners against the Watchtower Society. However, this does not mean they alone have the final say. They rely upon the excellent advice of a Strategic Planning Team, which is made up of thirty committed AAWA volunteers. This is a worldwide collaborative effort of many passionate volunteers, who at one time lived their lives ruled by the Watchtower’s policies. They KNOW how this high-control religious group affects the everyday lives of men, women and children. The input from all of AAWA’s volunteers is its most valuable asset.
How does AAWA operate?
AAWA accomplishes its work through a number of key teams, including…
- The Personnel Team, which is headed by Elizabeth Sorbo, serves an administrative function by collating the applications of new volunteers, and assigning these people to teams that best suit their skills and experience. It works closely with all of the other teams to establish where volunteers are needed and ensures that all personnel needs are met – identifying and approaching individuals with proven skills and experience where necessary.
- The Support Team, headed up by Lee Marsh, serves a prominent role within AAWA. It offers help and a “hearing ear” to current and former Witnesses who are struggling mentally and emotionally from the long-term effects of cruel Watchtower policies such as shunning and the mishandling of abuse. It responds to all emails and phone calls as promptly as possible, and strives to give the best possible advice where appropriate.
- The Public Relations Team is responsible for coordinating media enquiries and for highlighting AAWA’s efforts through targeted publicity campaigns. It issues press releases and works with the Writing Team to ensure that all Watchtower-related news stories are covered objectively in as many languages as possible.
- The Legal Team is responsible for advising the Board on all legal issues, and administering the legal obligations of the corporation – including accounting. It produces reports and ensures that all financial supporters of AAWA are kept informed of how donations are being spent.
- The Technical Team, under John Hoyle, is responsible for ensuring the smooth running of websites within AAWA’s information network. It identifies websites that are of long-term critical importance to AAWA’s objectives, and offers support to the owners to safeguard their future legacy. It supports other AAWA teams in overcoming any technical issues that may arise.
- The Writing Team is headed by Steph Le Gardener and she and her team work to prepare well-researched written material in furtherance of AAWA’s objectives.
- The Translation and International Communications Team, which is headed by Marvina Benzekri, brings together a network of talented linguists from all over the world who can work together to disseminate news about Watchtower and its harmful practices into a variety of languages.
- The Speaker’s Team is a group of dedicated AAWA volunteers who are willing to use their own voices to further AAWA’s message, either through videos or through appealing to local communities in person.
- The Creative Team is responsible for producing artistic content, including videos and graphics – all with the aim of getting AAWA’s message across.
- The Social Media Team, headed by Julia Douglas, is responsible for AAWA’s presence on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, and handles the administration of AAWA’s various online groups.
If you are interested in joining any of the above teams, please visit our volunteer page and download our questionnaire.
For more information on AAWA and its policies and objectives, please read our Mission Statement and FAQs page. For any specific questions or technical issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com .