by Susan Josephs
When Jane Randel became a spokesperson for Liz Claiborne’s “Love Is Not Abuse” cause marketing campaign in 1995, she viewed the project as a professional challenge to “take on an issue that no one wanted to talk about.” But the more she learned about domestic violence, “it became difficult not to be personally passionate. When you meet victims and hear their stories, it’s hard not to feel outraged,” she says.
Since then, Randel has devoted much of her life to spreading public awareness about domestic violence. As senior vice president of communications at Liz Claiborne (now Kate Spade & Company), she spearheaded groundbreaking family violence education and prevention programs and co-authored the influential paper “Coming into the Light: Intimate Partner Violence and Its Effects at Work.” She also co-founded the now six-year-old organization No More, which was featured in the first ever Super Bowl commercial about domestic violence as part of its mission to eradicate the stigma surrounding intimate partner crime and sexual assault. And last year, Randel became one of four experts hired to consult for the NFL after the league faced a national uproar after video was released showing player Ray Rice punching his fiancée in an elevator.
“What drives me is trying to get these issues the attention and platforms that they need,” the 48-year-old activist observes about her work giving presentations to NFL players or educating other companies about domestic violence. “There’s still a stigma around these issues the way there used to be a stigma around cancer and what I’m trying to do is normalize the conversation about it.”
“There’s still a stigma around [domestic violence] the way there used to be a stigma around cancer... I’m trying to normalize the conversation about it.”
Crediting her success to a collaborative working style and “an ability to bring disparate groups of people together,” Randel continues to work with the NFL while assisting other companies and organizations as an independent “social responsibility” consultant. Constantly fielding emails and setting up meetings, “I’m always looking to make connections to help advance these causes,” she says.
Raised on New York’s Long Island, Randel grew up in a culturally Jewish home and found a role model in her mother, a travel agent who walked the neighborhood to collect money for UNICEF. “I always had this notion of wanting to give back and make a difference,” she says of volunteering in her teens as a candy striper and tutor and with the organization New York Cares, where she ran a Secret Santa program and discovered her strengths lay in “organizing and strategizing.”
After graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in East Asian Studies, Randel “fell into” a career in public relations after taking a writing test. “I realized that I had already written press releases and promoted causes,” she says of her experience in college with working on a campaign to raise awareness about MS.
Randel was hired as a publicist at Liz Claiborne and swiftly rose through the ranks of the women’s apparel company, where she specialized in corporate communications and crisis management. She stayed with the company for 22 years and the opportunity to lead the domestic violence public awareness campaign “gave me an outlet to do something extremely fulfilling and gratifying,” she observes.
Married to Charles Kliment and the mother of a 14-year-old son and 12-year-old twin boys, Randel recently has been working to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and never rests on her laurels. “Anytime I get somewhere, I’m always asking myself ‘what’s next?’” she says. “I’m always thinking about what hasn’t been done yet.”