All was well for Jennifer Jones Austin and her family in the recent months leading into the holiday season.
Jen -- as she is often referred to by those close to her -- the 41 year old wife of Shawn Austin and mother to a daughter (12) and son (8), has achieved great contentment in numerous areas of her life.
The daughter of a prominent minister, the late Dr. William Augustus Jones, she not only developed a fulfilling family life but a satisfying and purposeful professional existence as well.
As an attorney for nearly 20 years, Jennifer Jones Austin has advocated for disenfranchised children and families within New York State and abroad. A native New Yorker, Jones Austin has served the needs of the less fortunate in a multitude of capacities both within the public and private sector.
Jones Austin served as New York City 's first Family Services Coordinator, a position to which she was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg after serving four years as a Deputy Commissioner in the City's Administration for Children's Services.
As Family Services Coordinator, Jones Austin was responsible for leading multiple interagency initiatives for children and families of the city. Jennifer's services would further be called upon as she played a key role in helping to coordinate and advance the Mayor's anti-poverty initiatives.
Jones Austin also held the position of Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief for Policy, Legislation and Public Outreach for then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Within the realm of advocacy for the education rights of children, Jones Austin served as the Vice President of Development for LearnNow/Edison Schools Inc.
In 2008 this accomplished attorney accepted a position with the United Way of New York City as the Senior Vice President of Community Investment, thus further establishing her record as an inspired and committed leader in the service of those in the greatest need of support.
In recent weeks however, Jen's life has undergone considerable upheaval.
A fever requiring the hospitalization of the active mother served as a precursor to an ultimate diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Such a medical diagnosis requires that Jones Austin receive a bone marrow transplant in the immediate future to save her life.
Individuals in need of a bone marrow transplant essentially require a donor of the same ethnicity, as a transplant may only occur between parties in possession of matching genetic tissue. This reality however functions to present a challenge for most individuals of African descent, as this group is dramatically underrepresented within national and international bone marrow registries.
In the face of this reality, Jennifer and others of African ancestry must often rely on the will of the immediate public if they are to identify a life saving match.
Scheduled bone marrow drives have emerged throughout the country in an effort to not only save the life of this community activist but also those who require the same medical procedure as well.
Due to considerable advances in medicine, the process by which one is determined a match for a needy recipient is as simple as placing a swab along the inside of the potential donor's cheek. Additionally, if an individual is identified as a match for a patient, a bone marrow transplant generally only requires the donor give blood.
Jennifer Jones Austin has dedicated her life to protecting the natural rights of those whom society has very often marginalized and seemingly cast aside. A stalwart agent in working to procure greater measures of social and economic justice for the least of these within our society, Jennifer now requires the public she has served for almost two decades to assist in helping her to survive.
When recently interviewed on a NBC New York Local News broadcast and asked of her hopes with respect to her unsettling circumstance, Jen, true to form, simply stated she felt encouraged that not only would she find a match, but through the public's efforts in assisting in this endeavor, many others in need of a similar transplant would also receive help.