Jill has spent the majority of her life as a missionary. Beginning in 1978, she joined Missions Door as a Campus Ambassador serving in San Jose and Fullerton, California, and at a private law school in Salem, Oregon.
From 1986-1989 Jill lived in México and Arizona, working with Food for the Hungry International to found and develop a program for church and university work teams to serve in México and Kenya with groups from Harvard to Berkeley. Jill also developed workshops on “Teaching Like Jesus” for teachers and pastors in Bolivia and México.
In 1996 Jill founded Students and Tutors Achieving Real Success (STARS), a ministry of Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, where hundreds of volunteers mentor and tutor at-risk students. Entering the homes of these students, Jill recognized the connection between children’s success and the high cost of housing. The lack of decent affordable housing in good neighborhoods often results in multiple families squeezed into tiny apartments concentrated in one part of town, which breeds gangs, homelessness, crime and soaring dropout rates. Having lived and worked in Latin America, she helped start a Spanish-speaking church called Communidad de las Americas. She also brought to Pasadena the Parent Project, one of the top gang prevention courses for parents in the country.
Jill became passionate about finding biblical solutions to the housing crisis. This led to her writing a book, Making Housing Happen: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models, which was revised in 2012, with help from her husband Anthony Manousos. This book provides a glimpse into creative ways that churches across the United States are addressing this urgent need. In 2015 parts of this book were translated into Spanish. Titled Vivienda y justicia: una perspectiva biblica, this book has been shared with Latin American pastors and leaders.
Jill is a Catalyst using an ABCD approach–Asset-Based Community Development–to connect resources in the community with those who need that resource. This involves forming teams and coalitions around the passions and gifts in the community to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. As part of the annual Palm Sunday Peace Parade, she helped organize a gun buyback and “Peace-source” Fair after the Sandy Hook shootings. For the 2015 Peace Parade, she organized a prayer vigil at the site where Kendrec McDade, an unarmed black youth, was shot by police; over 120 people attended and worshipped together, including several pastors and McDade’s mother. Jill helps those in need to bring justice and healing by telling their story. Jill works with local churches seeking ways to retain Pasadena’s racial and economic mix and to house Pasadena’s sizeable homeless population.
Jill’s broad experiences with pastors across all denominations and her work with small rural villages in Latin America give her a unique voice of hope in our country today. She has seen God transform lives, churches and communities through the power of Christ’s redeeming love.
Jill grew up in Yorba Linda, California. Her family attended various churches. As a sophomore in high school she was invited to a Bible study, where she heard of knowing Jesus Christ personally. It was there she gave her heart to Christ as her Lord and daily seeks to follow Christ.
Jill has a married sister with eight children and a married brother in Australia with two children. Her mother lives in California and is an artist.
On September 10, 2011, Jill married Anthony Manousos, a Quaker peace activist, writer and educator who has published numerous books. They have traveled together in the ministry giving talks at conferences and churches throughout the country. They have also made their home a place of hospitality and caring for God’s creation, lowering their water use by 50% through a gray water system and reducing their carbon footprint by 80% by installing solar panels and purchasing a plug-in hybrid car. They have also welcomed into their home a formerly homeless man.