Leadership

The most compelling advocates of change are those who have been directly affected by incarceration.

#LwC2017 APPLICATIONS NOW CLOSED Meet the Fellows

JLUSA believes that America’s most challenging barrier to expansive, systemic criminal and juvenile justice reform is the absence of clear and consistent leadership by those who have been directly affected by our failed criminal justice policies.

Leading with Conviction (LwC) is an advanced leadership training for formerly incarcerated, mid-senior level leaders with a specific and proven track record in advocacy and community organizing.

LwC is a cohort based, 12-month opportunity for leaders from around the country. LwC takes place both in-person and remotely through three in-person forums, six webinars, executive coaching, peer coaching, and regular digital communication.

LwC trainings benefit leaders by introducing them to the people and practices closely linked to successful community and regional criminal justice advocacy efforts, enabling them to take on greater challenges and to generate quantifiable impact in their work.

Learn More About The Program

The Training

In order to ensure that leaders are introduced to the skills necessary for decarceration success, JustLeadershipUSA has formed partnerships with Columbia Law School’s Center for Institutional and Social Change & Opportunity Agenda so that participants may benefit from their respective expertise in Community Building, Advocacy and Communication/Messaging.

Eligibility and Admission Criteria

Fellows must have at least 3-5 years post-criminal justice involvement (juvenile and/or criminal justice involvement is required to be eligible and includes but is not limited to: actual incarceration [served time in jail and/or prison], arrest with or without conviction, under community supervision, i.e. parole, sentenced to probation-only, and involvement as a client in the juvenile justice system) to ensure they have had the time to resolve normal re-entry issues, secure housing and employment and focus on leadership advocacy in their communities. Individuals on parole and / or probation are eligible for Leading with Conviction.

All Fellows MUST have demonstrated a minimum 3 year track record of leadership with a specific commitment to advocacy and community organizing, not only social services.

Key Dates

Applications open:
July 13, 2016

Applications due:
September 16, 2016 at 11:59PM Eastern Time

Please direct all Leading with Conviction questions to:
applications@justleadershipusa.org



Mass incarceration, massive cost

At a cost of $85 billion annually, 2.3 Million Americans are behind bars and an additional 5.6 Million Americans are under correctional supervision.

The Sentencing Project, 2013

Albert Dancy Alberto Vasquez Beatrice Codianni Caleb Martinez Carole Eady-Porcher Carolyn King Chloe Turner Colette Payne Dale White Dawn Harrington DeAnna Hoskins Donna Hylton Emanuel Jackson Evie Litwok Galen Baughman Harold Trulear, Ph.D. J. Jondhi Harrell Jamira Burley Jason Cleaveland Jerry Blassingame John Koufos Johnny Perez Juan Gomez Kara Nelson Kathleen Culhane Ken Moss Khalil A. Cumberbatch Kyle D. Bacon LaMonte Morgan Lashonia Thompson-El Lauren Johnson Layne Pavey Leslie Mathews Lewis Conway, Jr. Lillie Branch Kennedy Lily Gonzalez Louis L. Reed Marc Carr Maria Ford Maria Morales Marilynn B. Winn Mark Rice Martha Lynn Shearer Misty Beruberojo Monica Jahner Nicholas Buckingham Pamela Allen Pamela Clifton Pamela Kennebrew Pamela Winn Patrice Palmer Patricia McCray Patty Katz Reuben Jones Richard Smith Ronald D. Simpson-Bey Samuel Lewis Sandy LoMonico Shae Harris Shawn Gardner Shelton T. McElroy Steve R. Gordon Tari Williams Teresa Y. Hodge Theresa Sweeney Toni Bunton Tony Funchess Troy F. Vaughn Venus Woods Waleisah Wilson William “Bill” Cobb
Our Leadership Program participants receive competency level leadership training in the following core areas:


Leadership & Organizational Management

Organizing, launching, managing and funding an advocacy organization dedicated to the reduction of the juvenile and adult prison populations.

Community Building

Creating and sustaining an informed network of committed advocates dedicated to regional and national decarceration.

Advocacy & Policy Skills

Launching and leading an advocacy effort in your community including: recruitment, strategy development, leadership development, mobilizing, implementation and evaluation.

Communication

Mastering policy messaging and media skills, one-on-one communication, strategic story-telling, writing and platform skills.

Meet the Fellows


Albert Dancy Connecticut

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Alberto Vasquez California

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Beatrice Codianni Connecticut

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Caleb Martinez California

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Carolyn King Florida

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Dawn Harrington Tennessee

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Emanuel Jackson Oregon

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Harold Trulear, Ph.D. Pennsylvania

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John Koufos New Jersey

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Johnny Perez New York

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LaMonte Morgan Oregon

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Lashonia Thompson-El Washington DC

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Leslie Mathews Michigan

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Lewis Conway, Jr. Texas

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Lillie Branch Kennedy Virginia

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Lily Gonzalez California

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Louis L. Reed Connecticut

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Maria Ford Ohio

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Mark Rice Wisconsin

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Nicholas Buckingham Michigan

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Pamela Clifton Colorado

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Pamela Kennebrew Pennsylvania

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Pamela Winn Georgia

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Patricia McCray Florida

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Reuben Jones Pennsylvania

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Richard Smith New York

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Samuel Lewis California

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Sandy LoMonico Connecticut

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Shae Harris Washington DC

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Shawn Gardner Mississippi

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Tari Williams Alabama

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Tony Funchess Oregon

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Troy F. Vaughn California

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Venus Woods Alaska

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Waleisah Wilson Georgia

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LEADING WITH CONVICTION



Step 1
Complete Leadership Training Application
APPLY NOW
Step 2
Submit Completed Application
Step 3
JustLeadershipUSA will schedule an interview with strong candidates and make final selections

Albert Dancy

Connecticut

Elder Albert Ray Dancy was born in Alexandria, Virginia and raised in Connecticut.  He currently resides in Darien, Connecticut with his family.   In the mid-1970s, he served four years in state prison for armed robbery. While in prison, Rev. Dancy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Science from the University of New Haven.  Thirteen years later he was hired as a prison chaplain at the Bridgeport Community Corrections Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Rev. Dancy has held various management and information systems positions in the corporate sector, including General Electric, Peachtree Software, and Mellon Bank.  In 2007, he became the Executive Director of Serving All Vessels Equally, Inc. (SAVE), a non-profit faith-based organization.  SAVE’s vision is for the young people of the Norwalk community to grow up to become successful adults who are free of involvement with the justice system and have a positive impact on their communities.  It serves Norwalk youth, ages 14 -24, by providing advocacy and programming to help them achieve success in school, avoid contact with the criminal justice system and engage in positive community activism. Under his leadership SAVE has trained and mentored hundreds of youth using the CT Work and Learn Model – a highly motivating and mentor-rich experience for teaching life skills, work skills and academic skills.

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Alberto Vasquez

California

Beto Vasquez is currently finalizing his graduate studies at University California, San Diego where he is pursuing a Master’s degree in biology. He is a first-generation college student and a father of four. Beto is committed to becoming a community college professor of biology and ultimately an administrator of higher education. Academically, he has conducted research on infectious diseases and is currently investigating the correlations between socioeconomics and environmental disparities. Professionally, he has worked as a teacher, substance abuse counselor, and facilitator, working predominantly with at-risk groups.  

Having had experienced a life of incarceration himself as both a youngster and an adult, he is all too familiar with the multifaceted challenges faced by this demographic and seizes any opportunity to address their needs. He has worked in the not-for-profit sector, local government and higher education; and has been instrumental in successfully implementing programs supporting underserved communities, disenfranchised populations and students of color. 

Beto mentors at the community college and university levels, and is a huge educational advocate and proponent of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. He is always looking to create new opportunities and to promote access to higher education and was recently distinguished as one of San Diego’s 40 Under 40 people to watch.

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Beatrice Codianni

Connecticut

Beatrice Codianni is a longtime community activist who was sentenced to 17 years prison for racketeering. As a high ranking member of the Latin Kings, she used her community activism skills to fight for jobs, education and mental health and substance abuse treatment for disenfranchised youths. 

During her time in federal prison Beatrice was active in the Danbury FCI AIDS Awareness Group which sought to educate women in prison about HIV prevention and lessen the stigma against HIV+ people. She also taught reading skills to the women at Danbury. In prison her greatest achievement was taking the Bureau of Prisons to court in an effort to eliminate cross-gender pat searches for women who had been sexually or physically abused. Beatrice was granted an exemption that opened the door for other women in the federal prison system to apply for an exemption. 

Beatrice is now the Managing Editor of Reentry Central, a nationally recognized website on reentry and criminal justice reform issues. She is also co-founder of the groups Real Women Real Voices, the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls,  and the Women’s Resettlement Working Group. Additionally she is on the Connecticut Bail Fund’s Community Advisory Board.

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Caleb Martinez

California

Caleb Martinez was born on the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Reservation in Arizona. He is currently a student at the University of California-Berkeley where he is pursuing a major in Political Science, and will soon begin working for a joint degree in Public Policy and Law. Caleb was raised in several inner city neighborhoods that were rife with crime.  He witnessed and directly experienced social inequality and injustice and spent much of his adolescence and early adulthood trapped in the cycle of incarceration.  

Today, Caleb is a single father to a ten-year-old daughter. He has served as president for the Student Parent Association for Recruitment and Retention (SPARR) at UC Berkeley and is a UCLA Law Fellow. He currently works as the Lead Transfer and Outreach coordinator for the Underground Scholars Initiative at UC Berkeley, which provides services to formerly incarcerated students and those impacted by mass incarceration. In his work with the community Caleb focuses on increasing the presence of Native Americans, student parents and formerly incarcerated people in higher education. He envisions becoming a legislator to provide representation to marginalized communities and being a voice for the voiceless. 

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Carole Eady-Porcher

New York

Carole A. Eady serves as co-chair of Women on the Rise Telling Her Story (WORTH), sits on the board of directors for the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), and is a coordinator for the Exodus Prison Project at Abyssinian Baptist Church. She has taught anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice since completing her Bachelor of Arts and Master’s Degrees in Forensic Psychology there in 2006. Carole is widely recognized as a grassroots leader in the efforts to end the shackling of incarcerated women while giving birth and the termination of their parental rights. She was the recipient of John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Howard D. Mann Award for Humanitarianism in Service in 2006, and the Coalition for Women Prisoners’ Advocacy Award in 2007. In 2011, she received the Citizens’ Against Recidivism Glenn E. Martin Advocacy Award. Carole’s writings have been featured in several publications and she has made numerous presentations at conferences held by social justice organizations including the Drug Policy Alliance, the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, and Angela Davis’ Critical Resistance. Carole is on Twitter @Ceady2

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Carolyn King

Florida

Freda King struggled with a twenty-year drug addiction during which she became involved with the criminal justice system. It took many years for her to realize her ability to overcome all odds and reach her true potential.  Today, Freda is a Program Supervisor for the DISC Village-L.I.F.T. Program, a reentry program that partners with the Leon County Jail in Florida.  She works with men transitioning from the jail back into the community.  Freda is also an aftercare case manager for the Florida Department of Correction CORE program where she helps men transitioning from prison back into the community. She trains mental health professionals on substance abuse trends, relapse and recovery, and she supervises the substance abuse education program at the Leon County Jail.  Freda also supervises a substance education and life skills program at a local domestic violence transitional program and volunteers as a facilitator for a group at the Federal Correctional Facility for Women in Tallahassee.

Freda received the 2013 LeRoy Collins Distinguished Alumni Award in the “Against the Odds” category from Tallahassee Community College (TCC).  In March 2016 she was featured in the Tallahassee Democrat as one of the top 50 graduates from TCC. Additionally, Freda was honored as a 2016 Inductee in the TCC Alumni & Friends Hall of Fame. 

Currently, Freda is attending Florida State University as a graduate student in the Criminal Justice Studies program.

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Chloe Turner

California

Chloe Turner was raised in Southern California. She left high school early and spent most of her 20’s addicted and cycling in and out of county jails and prison. After her last incarceration in 2008, she entered a program for women parolees and came face- to- face with the issues that landed her in prison. She vowed to break the intergenerational cycle of incarceration and build a healthy productive life. Chloe first worked as an intern for Community Works, a not-for-profit organization that serves individuals in the criminal justice system. She has since held a series of progressively responsible positions, culminating in serving as Program Coordinator for the Women Rising Program, a reentry program for women in the San Francisco County Jail and for those who have been released. She works daily with young women in the criminal justice system with an emphasis on gender specific restorative justice practices. In 2010, Chloe completed a Community Health Worker Certificate specializing in Post- Prison Release and graduated from Stanford University’s Project ReMade in 2012. In May 2013, she graduated from the University of San Francisco with a BS in Organizational Behavior and Leadership. Chloe plans to attend law school.

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Colette Payne

Illinois

Colette Payne is a student at Harold Washington College in Chicago and the mother of three sons. She joined the Visible Voices group of Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM) in 2001 and has been an active member of the Leadership Council and Speakers Bureau since 2012. Her passion is to educate families to build healthier communities. In 2012 Colette testified before the Cook County Board’s Commission on Women’s Issues and participated in the Community Renewal Society’s legislative advocacy in Springfield, the state capital. She has served in a delegation to meet with Illinois Department of Corrections officials to improve prison conditions and expand community release for women. Collette is a sought after speaker whose engagements have included the University of Illinois School of Nursing, Northeastern Illinois University’s Undocumented Resilience Organization, the University of Illinois’s Urban Medicine program, and the Unitarian Church. In December 2013, she was hired as CLAIM’s Visible Voices Coordinator, and in July of 2014, CLAIM became a program of Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA). Colette is living proof that change is possible.

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Dale White

Florida

Dale White is the Founder and Executive Director of The Living Harvest, Inc., a not-for-profit re-entry program for the formerly incarcerated located in Tallahassee, Florida. He has also served as the Southeast USA TEAM Lead for Celebrate Recovery Inside, a ministry out of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California (Warren is the author of the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life”). Dale is a volunteer for Kairos Prison Ministries International and a mentor for the Florida Department of Corrections Mentoring Program. He currently sits on two boards; Big Bend After Re-Entry Coalition (BBARC) and Big Bend Homeless Coalition Continuum of Care. His mission is to help incarcerated people who have substance abuse and other life problems get established in recovery and successfully re-enter the community so they can lead productive and purposeful lives.

 

 

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Dawn Harrington

Tennessee

Dawn Harrington is from Nashville, TN.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in Recording Industry Management and Public Relations from Middle Tennessee State University and a Master of Business Administration degree in Information Technology from Bethel University.  Dawn is currently a doctoral candidate in International Business at Walden University.

Dawn has worked in the entertainment industry for 12 years in many capacities including as executive assistant to the CEO of Chopper City Records and operations management for Trill Entertainment, both of which had major record label deals with Atlantic Records.  She is the owner of IBS Agency, LLC, and was the assistant to the music instrument coordinator for the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Balls.

In 2014, Dawn started working with Ban The Box Nashville, and in November 2015, the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County voted to direct Metropolitan Human Resources to implement a Ban the Box policy for most government jobs. The new policy took effect on January 1, 2016.

Today, Harrington is empowering young ladies through the F.A.W.M. (Fearfully and Wonderfully Made) song and movement.  She is the systems manager for the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, and is the executive director of Free Hearts, a not-for-profit organization that was created to reunite families by providing education, support, and advocacy to families affected by incarceration. Twitter @freeheartsorg

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DeAnna Hoskins

Ohio

DeAnna Hoskins currently is the Senior Policy Advisor over Corrections and Reentry with the Department of Justice.  In this capacity, she represents DOJ’s strategies and priorities and oversees the Second Chance Act portfolio of grants, The National Reentry Resource Center and Residential Substance Abuse Treatment programs.

Ms. Hoskins recently was designated as the Interim Deputy Director of the Federal Reentry Interagency Council by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  The Federal Interagency Reentry Council is comprised of more than 20 federal agencies, that coordinates and leverages existing federal resources that are targeted to reentry; uses the bully pulpit to dispel myths, clarify policies and provide visibility to programs and policies that work; all while reducing the policy barriers to successful reentry.

She is originally from Cincinnati, holds a masters’ degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati, Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor, and certified as an Offender Workforce Development Specialist, and a JLUSA 2016 graduate.  She has experienced the reentry system from all perspectives as she is herself a previously incarcerated individual who has successfully transitioned back into the community, ultimately receiving a pardon from Governor Ted Strickland.

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Donna Hylton

New York

Donna Hylton is a Community Health Advocate for the Coming Home Program of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. Coming Home is a special transition case-management and support program designed specifically for people who have been incarcerated and are returning to the community. Donna identifies and addresses the needs of clients transitioning home from prison and jail. She is an active member of the Coalition for Women Prisoners, a statewide alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system as it affects women, children and communities. Donna spent twenty-seven years in prison where she was a key member of the Coalition’s Violence Against Women Committee on the Inside. She has participated in numerous panel discussions and public presentations, and has attended multiple lobby days with legislators in Albany since coming home. Donna is also an advocate with STEPS to End Family Violence, the state’s only alternative-to- incarceration program for survivor-defendants. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Behavioral Science and a Master of Arts Degree in English. Donna is on Twitter @donhylton1

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Emanuel Jackson

Oregon

Emanuel Price has 14 years of professional experience working in community, policy, and juvenile justice. He has done this work in various capacities, including youthfocused organizations, programs, and, culturally competent education.  His career has specifically focused on social justice issues such as dismantling and redefining the criminal justice system through a restorative justice lens and putting an end to the school to prison pipeline. Emmanuelchanneled his passions and commitment to these issues in 2007 when he founded a not-for-profit organization in Portland, Oregon, Second Chances are for Everyone (SCAFE), supports men, women, and youth as they reintegrate into society postincarceration. This work includes, but is not limited to, assisting with employment and providing mentoring and immediate services. 

Emanuel has built and sustained strong multi-cultural and intergenerational relationships with members of underrepresented communities. Before joining Multnomah County’s Office of Diversity and Equity as the Multnomah Youth Commission Coordinator, he worked in Portland Public Schools as a Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Coordinator and a Restorative Justice Teacher. His most recent accomplishments include helping to pass a “Ban the Box” City Ordinance and State Law (House Bill 3025) which increases employment opportunities by 70% for individuals with past criminal convictions. Emanuel also serves on the following boards: Multnomah Public Defenders (MPD) Board, HIV Aids Awareness Prevention(HAAP) Board, Bus Project Board, and the Restorative Justice Statewide Steering Committee (RJSC). 

Emmanuel was recently recognized for his years of work around recidivism as 2015 Spirit Of Portland’s Outstanding Community Leader awardee. As a native of Portland Oregon, Emanuel believes that in order to make positive change, you must first start at home.

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Evie Litwok

New York

 

Evie Litwok never thought anyone like her could end up in prison —much less solitary confinement. But she did, and while in prison she experienced the denial of human rights that millions of incarcerated in this country constantly suffer.

Since her release from prison, Litwok launched Witness to Mass Incarceration, a project dedicated to memorializing America’s 40year history of Mass Incarceration through in-depth first-hand interviews of formerly incarcerated women and men.

She is a 2015 JustLeadershipUSA Leading with Conviction Leader. She is an active member of the Federal Criminal Justice LGBT/HIV Working Group.

Contact Information:

EvieLitwok@gmail.com
Twitter: @EvieLitwok
www.WitnessToMassIncarceration.org
347.304.7227

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Galen Baughman

Virginia

Galen Baughman is an organizer, national spokesperson, and trainer focused on the most pressing civil rights challenge of our time: ending mass incarceration. He works at the intersection of human rights, restoration, and a deep belief in the possibilities of redemption. Galen was imprisoned for nine years, including four and a half years in solitary confinement, starting when he was still just a teenager. Today, Galen brings his harrowing experiences to audiences around the country, speaking to lawmakers, criminal justice stakeholders, and members of the public. Galen is currently the communications director of CURE, a national grassroots organization, where he is focused on policy analysis, direct advocacy, messaging strategies, and grassroots organizing. He has lectured, run conferences, and written about corruption in the prison industrial complex. Galen lives in Arlington, Virginia. Galen is on Twitter @GalenBaughman

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Harold Trulear, Ph.D.

Pennsylvania

Harold Dean Trulear, Ph.D. has served as Associate Professor of Applied Theology at Howard University School of Divinity since 2003. He currently teaches Prophetic Ministry, Ethics and Politics, Ministry and Criminal Justice, and Church and Community Studies. Dr. Trulear directs a national research and demonstration project called Healing Communities which mobilizes congregations to support those returning from incarceration through the establishment of family and social support networks. 

With Charles Lewis and W. Wilson Goode, Dr. Trulear is co-editor of the book “Ministry with Prisoners and Families: The Way Forward” (Judson Press 2011). He also served as pastor of churches in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and he is currently a pastoral associate at Praise and Glory Tabernacle in Philadelphia. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College (1975), he completed his Ph.D. with distinction at Drew University (1983). 

Dr. Trulear is the author of over 100 articles, book chapters, essays and published sermons. His important monographs include “Faith Based Initiatives with High Risk Youth,” “The African American Church and Welfare Reform,” and “George Kelsey: Unsung Hero.” He writes a weekly reentry column for DonDivaMag.com called “Welcome Home” and is a regular contributor to The Capital Commentary on criminal justice reform.

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J. Jondhi Harrell

Pennsylvania

J. Jondhi Harrell is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC) in Philadelphia. TCRC offers comprehensive services for prisoners and formerly incarcerated people in the areas of re-entry, pre-entry, and advocacy. He plays a leadership role in numerous organizations, including the National Committee of Alternatives to Violence Re-Entry Program, the Formerly Incarcerated and Families Working Group of Decarcerate PA, the Coalition against Mass Incarceration (CAMI Philly), the Re-Entry Coalition of Philadelphia and the Quaker Network to End Mass Incarceration. Jondhi is co-founder of the Transitional Services Coalition and the BLOC Party (Build Lobby Organize Campaign), the movement to forge returning citizens of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania into a cultural, social, political, and economic coalition. He is a frequent guest lecturer on the topics of Mass Incarceration, Social Injustice, The New Underground Railroad, and Re-building Black America at universities, colleges, churches, organizations and community events. Jondhi has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Service Management from the University of Phoenix and is a Master’s in Social Work candidate at Temple University.

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Jamira Burley

Pennsylvania

Jamira Burley is a graduate of Temple University, with a degree in International Business, Legal Studies. Currently, Jamira works as a Senior Campaigner for Amnesty International USA, where she leads on issues of gun violence and criminal justice. Prior to joining Amnesty, Jamira served as the Executive Director for the City of Philadelphia Youth Commission, overseeing youth/millennial initiatives. As an advocate for authentic youth engagement, global citizenship, education reform, black male achievement and gun violence prevention. Jamira is the United States representative and co- chair to the UN Global Education First Initiative, Youth Advocacy Group. She is also the co-founder of GenYNot, an online platform that uses the youth experience as a way to spark solution-driven dialogue. As the first of 16 children to graduate high school and college, Jamira became engaged in social justice work, after the repeat incarceration of both of her parents and all ten of her older brothers. Now Jamira has made it her mission to employ her personal experiences as a driving force to improve the lives of others. Jamira is on Twitter @JamiraBurley

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Jason Cleaveland

Missouri

Jason Cleaveland is an entrepreneur, teacher and speaker dedicated to creating new opportunities for the formerly incarcerated to develop into the people they want to be. Blending principles of business, education, technology and social action, with just a bit of brazen ingenuity, Jason insists on better ways for people to be their best selves. He is the founder of Juniper Communities, a therapeutic recovery community for formerly incarcerated people who have exhausted traditional services and support. Jason also served as co-founder of One-Eighty, a regional training and advocacy group serving the formerly incarcerated and the organizations that work with them. Jason is a prominent guest lecturer at local universities and speaks regularly on the topics of reentry, personal development, and social justice. He also serves on the Advisory Board to Probation and Parole while earning his MBA. He believes that sustainable business models along with innovative technology will revolutionize post- incarceration life for millions.

Jason is on Twitter @jasoncleaveland

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Jerry Blassingame

South Carolina

Jerry Blassingame is the Executive Director of Soteria Community Development Corporation and Senior Pastor of Soteria Christian Fellowship in Greenville, South Carolina. He endeavors to empower individuals and the community through education, affordable housing, financial literacy, community and economic development, and entrepreneurship. His passion is assisting individuals who have been incarcerated through reentry and helping them to become productive citizens. He is also a social entrepreneur who believes in social enterprise for the non- profit sector. Jerry attended Columbia International University and studied architectural engineering at Greenville Technical College. He received a 20 year prison sentence in 1995 and served only 3 ½ years after being paroled in 1999. Jerry has continued to fight for criminal justice reform since he was granted a pardon in 2004. One of his greatest accomplishments was to receive the Chuck W. Colson Scholarship from Institute for Prison Ministries to attend the Wheaton College Correctional Ministries Program in 2014.

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John Koufos

New Jersey

John Koufos is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation.  NJRC has five programs in New Jersey and is dedicated to connecting returning citizens to addiction/mental health treatment, housing solutions, employment and training, healthcare and legal services. John was a New Jersey Certified Criminal Trial Attorney and managed a law firm while lecturing at a university and teaching continuing legal education courses. He successfully argued state cases from municipal court to murder at the trial, appellate and Supreme Court levels, and was counsel to the NAACP (Metuchen-Edison Area branch). 

In 2011, John’s addiction led to his incarceration for a drunk driving accident and related crimes.  In 2014 John started his work in reentry as a volunteer and parolee.  He utilized his sobriety, and his legal and prison experience and started a pro bono program for returning citizens to help clear unpaid fines and old warrants, and to assist the population in securing identification and basic/commercial drivers’ licenses.  

John earned his law degree. from Fordham University School of Law and his Master’s. and Bachelor’s degrees from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  He continues to serve the legal community by teaching courses to lawyers, prosecutors, and judges, and by helping at-risk lawyers with addiction issues.  

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Johnny Perez

New York

Johnny Perez is the Safe Reentry advocate at the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project (MHP), a nonprofit law firm providing pro bono legal services to underserved populations in New York City. Specifically, he works directly with people with mental illness and histories of incarceration to connect them to the services in the community that will assist them to attain better measures of recovery and gain the stability necessary to avoid further contact with the criminal justice system.

Drawing on the wisdom of thirteen years of direct involvement with the criminal justice system, Johnny also works to change unjust policies and practices through his participation as a newly appointed member of the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Johnny is also a member of the NYC Bar Association’s Correction and Reentry Committee and a member of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC).

Johnny is a sought after speaker and has been invited to speak at Cornell Law School andFordham University.  He has made presentations before Amnesty International, the United Nations, and various state, regional, and national conferences on topics including reentry, prison education, and solitary confinement. Johnny’s commentary has been published in The New York Times, the Washington Post, Ebony Magazine, Newsweek magazine, and the Wall Street Journal.

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Juan Gomez

California

Juan Gomez is Co-Founder and Project Manager of Motivating Individual Leadership for Public Advancement (MILPA), an emerging California-based multiracial, transdisciplinary think tank. MILPA is dedicated to advancing a policy and systems change agenda for health and racial equity. He also serves as a Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor with the National Compadres Network, a national effort whose focus is the reinforcement of the positive involvement of Latino males in the lives of their families, communities, and society. In 2011 he was an inaugural Health Equity Fellow with The California Endowment. He has played a leadership role in numerous statewide and national efforts to promote strategies for the advancement of boys and men of color and has been recognized for his innovative and culturally sensitive health equity practices. Juan was raised by his grandparents in Watsonville, CA.

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Kara Nelson

Alaska

Kara Nelson is a lifelong resident of Southeast Alaska and the Director of Haven House, a grassroots oriented faith-based organization which provides peer support services within a safe and recovery focused environment devoted to fostering healing and self-sufficiency for women returning home after incarceration. Kara identifies as a formerly incarcerated leader as well as a person in long-term recovery. After her release from incarceration Kara reunited with her children and completed her Associates Degree. Kara has become devoted to reentry efforts & transitions, corrections reform, and creating community peer support networks. As such, she serves on multiple boards and coalitions, most notably on the Juneau Reentry Coalition (JREC), co founder of the Juneau Recovery Community Organization (JRCO) and ACHMA -The College for Behavioral Health Leadership. Kara serves transitional needs of incarcerated people in helping to facilitate Peer Focused Forensic Supports within the Alaska prison system. In her advocacy efforts Kara maintains positions on local panels and public informational gatherings. In her activism she regularly engages with local and state legislators and law makers regarding addiction and incarceration policy. Through the creation of Haven House, Kara has become associated with the National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR) and possesses certification in recovery coaching and training.

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Kathleen Culhane

Massachusetts

Kathleen Culhane is a Program Associate at the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections where her current work is focused on solitary confinement and housing for people leaving prisons and jails. Formerly incarcerated herself in California state prisons, Kathleen recently earned her Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University where she was awarded the Graduate Impact Award for having a lasting impact on her cohort and the Public Policy Program.  While a graduate student, she founded and coordinated an interdisciplinary working group on criminal justice policy. She conducted research on the economic and health effects of incarceration in vulnerable populations. She also worked as a research assistant to Professor Bruce Western at Harvard University, and was a graduate summer intern at the Vera Institute of Justice. She is an ongoing Program Team member at Essie Justice Group and an Advisory Committee member for the Incarceration and Public Health Network at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She previously worked at the Women’s Community Clinic of San Francisco and at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Kathleen additionally served as a formerly incarcerated representative to the San Francisco Reentry Council.  She has presented both at the community level and nationally on conditions of confinement, and the intersection of poverty and gender in policies related to prisons and punishment.

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Ken Moss

Ohio

Ken Moss serves as a Trainer and Director of Reentry Connect, a non-profit community-building model developed to connect returning citizens and community members in dynamic relationships that create mindset shifts and promotes personal and community growth. Ken is also the Co¬founder of the Ohio Association of Formerly Incarcerated Offenders Inc. Whose mission is to elevate the voice of previously incarcerated individuals to challenge perceptions and change systems to lower recidivism throughout Ohio. Ken sit’s as a mentor and community reentry advocate and resource provider for the Southern District Federal Reentry Court. He is an Elder at the Potter’s House Dayton International Ministries and a volunteer Chaplain with the State of Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and the Montgomery County Jail. Ken finds providing Biblical counsel and spiritual instruction to those incarcerated behind prison walls both (spiritually/mentally), very impactful and rewarding. Ken, his wife and children live in Dayton, Ohio. He completed his Bachelors of Arts in Criminology from California Creek University and holds a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Certificate. Ken is continuing his education seeking a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Christian Counseling.

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Khalil A. Cumberbatch

New York

Khalil A. Cumberbatch is a formerly incarcerated advocate who has worked on reentry issues in the New York City area since his release from prison in 2010. In 2014 Khalil received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from CUNY Lehman College where he was awarded the Urban Justice Award for his work with underserved and marginalized communities. He is the Founder and President of Kinetic Solutions, a consulting company focusing on the assessment, implementation and management of multiple social media outlets for agencies within the NYC area. Khalil serves as the Communications and Development Manager, and is a periodic guest host for On The Count: The Prison and Criminal Justice Report, a radio program hosted and produced by formerly incarcerated individuals. He has recently focused his efforts on the concept of perpetual punishment from harsh immigration policies for non-citizens who have criminal justice involvement. Due to this he currently serves as the Strategic Initiatives Consultant at the Immigrant Defense Project, a legal organization that promotes fundamental fairness for immigrants accused or convicted of crimes. In December 2014, Khalil was one of two people to receive an Executive Pardon from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to prevent his deportation from the United States. Khalil is on Twitter @KhaCumberbatch

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Kyle D. Bacon

Virginia

Kyle D. Bacon is a proven leader in the not-profit-profit sector and is dedicated to transforming the lives of under-served and under-supported youth, families, and communities. As Mentor Program Coordinator of the U.S. Dream Academy Learning Center in Washington, D.C., Kyle uses his skills in business and education for development, program creation, and intervention efforts. Kyle has worked in public and independent schools in Ohio, Maryland and in D.C., and has been effective in significantly improving students’ academic skills and behavioral outcomes. He is a proud alumnus of the Howard University School of Business, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in International Marketing and served in various leadership positions. He is active in community and philanthropic organizations, a jail and prison ministry, and a church-based men’s life enrichment group.

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LaMonte Morgan

Oregon

LaMonte Morgan grew up in a small town on the Oregon coast. As a teenager and young man, he struggled with addiction and during one two year period, he churned in and out of jail 45 times. Later, while serving a 39 month sentence in state prison, he was accepted into an alternative to incarceration program which set him on the path to sobriety and a life free of crime.

Today, LaMonte is the Men’s Program Director for Sponsors, an agency that provides services to people released from Oregon state prisons and the Lane County Jail.  The Transitional Housing Program which LaMonte supervises is unique in the nation.  It provides wrap around services including a Job’s Resource Center to assist with resumé building, job search strategies and leads, employment workshops, and mock interviews to build confidence.  The program also provide parenting classes utilizing the community curriculum of Parenting Inside Out, as well as Cognitive Based Therapy utilizing Motivational Enhancement Therapy and Moral ReconationTherapy,  designed to alter how individuals make decisions between right and wrong.  LaMontebuilt a strong working relationship with a local outpatient alcohol and drug treatment program which now runs onsite treatment groups for Sponsor participants.  

LaMonte is also an advocate for policy reform in his state.  His current priority is reforming Oregon’s sex offender registration process which retains a person’s individually identifiable information for life.  LaMonte sincerely enjoys the work he does and could not be more proud of the organization he works with.  He says, “The wise words of my grandfather have finally come to fruition in my life:  ‘son, if you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life.’ Thank you Grandpa!!!” 

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Lashonia Thompson-El

Washington DC

Lashonia Thompson-El is a 42 year old Washingtonian who was born and raised in South East D.C. As a youth she made a series of bad decisions that landed her in prison for a violent crime and where she spent half of her life. During her 18 ½ years in prison, Lashonia set out to rehabilitate herself and atone for her past mistakes to the best of her ability. She received her GED, began to pursue a college degree, and she helped develop and facilitate many classes for other incarcerated women. 

In December 2011 Lashonia was released on parole. In 2013 she was hired as the Female Reentry Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizens Affairs. As an advocate for gender responsive reentry strategies and criminal justice reform in the District of Columbia, Lashonia has had the opportunity to speak publicly about the impact of mass incarceration on women and children. She speaks candidly about the consequences of youth violence and the challenges women face during the reintegration process as well as the importance of family reunification. 

In June 2013 Lashonia launched a not-for-profit organization known as The W.I.R.E. (Women Involved in Reentry Efforts). The W.I.R.E. is a network of previously incarcerated women who have joined together to provide social support to women currently incarcerated and women returning from incarceration and their children. In May of 2016 Lashonia completed her undergraduate degree at Trinity Washington University. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Science Administration with a concentration in Organizational Management. Lashoniais a member of the National Council For Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.http://ncifiwg.org/

http://ncifiwg.org/

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Lauren Johnson

Texas

Lauren Johnson is the mother of three boys, the eldest of whom was born during her incarceration. She came home when he was one-year-old; he is now eleven. In 2015 Lauren completed a Criminal Justice Advocacy and Mobilization Fellowship with Grassroots Leadership, an Austin, Texas-based organization that fights to end for-profit incarceration and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention through direct action, organizing, research, and public education. Additionally she is a participant in and board member for Conspire Theatre, a local not-for-profit cultural organization that works with justice-involved women. Lauren also serves on the Austin Travis County Reentry Planning Council and co- chairs the X-Offenders Council.

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Layne Pavey

Washington

Layne Pavey is a Mental Health Clinician & Certified Peer Counselor who received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Sociology from Montana State University Billings in 2005, and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Eastern Washington University in 2014. She has a private practice in psychotherapy and is also an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) Therapy Provider, helping individuals and families heal from traumas. Layne returned to society in 2011 after serving twenty months in a federal institution. She is the co-owner and CEO of Revive Reentry Services, LLC where she supervises reentry specialists and engages reentering citizens in programs necessary to ensure forward progress. She is a stanch advocate for the formerly incarcerated population and works in community organizing and political advocacy. Layne serves on the Executive Committee of Smart Justice Spokane, is a co-facilitator with Community Partners in Transition Services (CTPS) and is the Founder of I Did the Time, an advocacy group consisting of formerly incarcerated individuals and families.

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Leslie Mathews

Michigan

Elder Leslie Mathews has been a minister of the gospel for over twenty years.  “Justice is the blood that runs through my veins,” she explains. “Serving and fighting for the rights of others is what I live for.”  A long-time resident of Detroit, Elder Leslie is the former President of The African American Arts and Cultural Society (AAACS) where she developed a creative writing partnership between the University of Michigan Musical Society and the Winans Academy of Performing Arts students. Under her leadership, the AAACS became an ambassador for the Arts to various Academic Institutions.

Elder Leslie serves as Director of Outreach for Triumphant Life Christian Church in Highland Park, Michigan and is a member of the Board of Directors for Hope for the City-Detroit, part of a network of faith-based urban outreach programs founded in 1992 in the South Bronx to empower and equip the most marginalized communities.   

Today, Elder Leslie is an organizer with Michigan United, a statewide organization of community members and organizations fighting for the dignity and potential of every person.  One of her organizing focuses is criminal justice reform.  A major recent victory was the restoration of the powers of Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners – a civilian oversight body originally established in 1974 to deal with police abuse and corruption.  The Board’s powers were stripped away in 2013 when the city was under emergency management.  After months of organizing by Michigan United, the Detroit City Council voted unanimously to restore the Board’s powers.  Elder Leslie’s current campaign is the passage by the City Council of a city-wide Fair Chance ordinance to help returning citizens find employment after incarceration.

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Lewis Conway, Jr.

Texas

Lewis Conway, Jr. spent 2,095 days in Texas prisons. Today he is the Criminal Justice Programs Associate for Grassroots Leadership, a not-for-profit organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past. As an activist, advocate, author, and entrepreneur, Lewis is responsible forthe organization’s web development, film production, and social media presence. He brings extensive experience having worked as digital marketing manager of Centex Image and Design, producer/director/editor at 4415 Films, video editor for Austin Music Network, and entertainment director at RPM Dining. 

Lewis is currently involved with several community organizations that support formerly incarcerated people, including Tent Maker’s MinistrySecond Chance Democrats, and Reentry Advocacy ProjectHe is an African-American U.S. national who holds an Associate of Artsdegree in Applied Science. Lewis is passionate about breaking down barriers to reentry and enhancing opportunities for those who have experienced the sting of incarceration.

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Lillie Branch Kennedy

Virginia

Lillie Branch-Kennedy is the Executive Director of the Virginia-based Resource Information Help for the Disadvantaged & Disenfranchised (RIHD).  Lillie founded RIHD, an award-winning all-volunteer statewide organization committed to eradicating racial bias from the criminal justice sentencing process,  in 2002, after her son was sentenced to an egregiously long sentence for a first time offense. She also founded the Mobile Justice Tour, now in its fifth year.  The tour brings criminal justice reform advocates to various locations around the state where workshops are held to train and encourage participants to work to reduce the level of societal disenfranchisement of the formerly incarcerated and persons with a record in Virginia.

While studying public administration at Brooklyn College, Lillie obtained an internship that led to a 30-year federal government career with the Internal Revenue Service, United States Postal Service and United States Defense agencies.  She is an active member of several social justice organizations, including the NAACPFormerly Incarcerated & Convicted People and Families MovementNation Inside and National Council for Incarcerated Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.  

Known for her passionate advocacy, Lillie has been recognized for her commitment to justice and is the recipient of the 2011 Petra Fellow Award, the 2014 Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority MLK Jr. Community Service Award, and 2015 NAACP Freedom Fund Community Award (Henrico County).

Her current campaigns focus on correcting two key sentencing issues of the past that remain uncorrected and affect thousands of people currently in Virginia state prisons. Though there are many legislative uncertainties, Lillie remains undaunted.

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Lily Gonzalez

California

Lily Gonzalez is a full time student, mother, activist and part time blogger. She is a native Angeleno, born and raised in South Central Los Angeles.  After finishing an 18-month program at Homeboy Industries, an LA-based organization that provides training and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women, Lily obtained her undergraduate degree in Chicano/a Studies at California State University at Northridge. She is currently working towards her Master’s Degree and will finish in the spring of 2018. In her free time, Lily is a mom working to raise a teenage daughter (15) and toddler son (4).

Lily writes for the La Comadre, a blog that emphasizes the challenges that people of color face and the importance of obtaining degrees in higher education.    Formerly incarcerated Latinas are usually reluctant to “come out” since there is much shame associated with incarceration, especially for those who are mothers who are supposed to be the pillars of their families and communities.  La Comadre has enabled Lily to begin a new conversation about women who are formerly incarcerated by talking about how her own incarceration impacted her daughter and her daughter’s education. Changing the narrative is part of her commitment and success.

Lily is the first woman to earn a Bachelor’s Degree and start a Master’s program straight from Homeboy Industries, and has come out as a  formerly incarcerated graduate student at California State University, Northridge.  This has given her a platform to address issues around reentry and education and to educate people about how incarceration directly impacts children.   She plays a leadership role at her university and is the co-founder of Revolutionary Scholars an on campus organization in support of students affected by mass incarceration. Twitter @Gonzalez1Lily

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Louis L. Reed

Connecticut

Louis L. Reed is the Program Manager for the Mayor’s Initiative for Reentry Affairs, City of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  He is the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of the Louis L. Reed Empowerment Group which specializes in life coaching, addiction recovery support, offender reentry management, executive coaching, and relationship counseling, and the Executive Director of Vision of Purpose, a social justice organization based in Connecticut.

Louis is no stranger to urban problems, ranging from crime to the barriers ex-offenders face upon reentering society, He was indicted by the federal government in 2000 and sentenced to nearly 16 years in federal prison.  Today, Louis is a Forbes ® Coaches Council member, an in-demand conference speaker and a sought after thought leader on topics including reentry affairs, recovery support, spiritual empowerment, and crime intervention.  

Louis has appeared on C-SPAN and MSNBC and has been published in The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets.  He was recently interviewed at length in BlackMattersUS on the subject of dealing with prison traumatic stress disorder.  He is the Indie Author Legacy Author of the Year (Spirituality) winner for his best-selling empowerment book: 9 Steps to Fall UP When You Trip DOWN: Converting Mistakes into Miracles.

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Marc Carr

Washington DC

Marc Carr’s passion for social justice and entrepreneurship has led him to work on civil rights campaigns in the Deep South and organize community forums in the U.S. and West Africa. His professional experience includes heading the sales division of a major international corporation in West Africa, consulting for the United Nations Foundation, and working as a Social Media Analyst for McKinsey & Co. Marc is the Founder of Social Solutions, an organization devoted to crowd-sourcing tech solutions to solve intractable social problems. Social Solutions produces a monthly event series, the Capitol Innovation Forum, and the yearly Social Innovation Festival, along with a podcast series, the Capitol Justice Podcast. Social Solutions also spearheads the Capitol Justice Lab, an initiative to reduce the incarceration rate in the nation’s capital by half in five years. Marc is expecting his Master’s Degree in Social Enterprise in 2016 from the American University School of International Service.

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Maria Ford

Ohio

Maria Ford is a mother, mentor and strong advocate of successful reentry. She currently works for the State of Ohio as an Employment Professional assisting those who are unemployed–about 60% of whom have some type of criminal history–to return to work. Maria is the co-founder of the annual Restored Citizen Summit that brings together formerly incarcerated people, employers, educators, not-for-profit organizations, and public officials for a one-day event to collaborate and exchange resources for assisting successful community reentry.

Maria is a member of Haven Community Church in Marysville and coordinates a volunteer mentor program at the Ohio Reformatory for Women to match women from the community with women who are 12-18 months away from leaving incarceration.  The goal is to build lasting relationships and provide continued support after release. Her passion is addressing mental health issues; more than half of all prison and jail inmates have mental health problems.

Maria holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University and is working toward her Doctorate degree in the Mental Health field. She has served on boards and initiatives to assist those reentering the community and to prevent homelessness.

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Maria Morales

California

Maria Morales is the mother of five children who has spent more than fifteen years fighting a war with drug addiction and the stigma that comes with it. She possesses an intimate knowledge of drug addiction and its connection to the criminalization of people of color. As a woman who was personally caught up in the judicial system, Maria spent many years trying to “fix others,” but has come to the realization that people have to fix themselves. But she also understands that resources and opportunities must exist for individuals to be successful. She has therefore made it a priority to find resources, fight for policy change, and empower those directly impacted by mass incarceration. Maria is the Co-Founder of the Pillars of the Community Scholars Society and the San Diego City College Social Justice Coalition. She serves on the board of directors of Pillars of the Community and is a community leader with the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

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Marilynn B. Winn

Georgia

Marilynn B. Winn is the Co-Founder and Lead Organizer of Women on the Rise, a grassroots organization led by formerly incarcerated women working for healthy families, justice for all women, and a reduction in the number of women under correctional control in the state of Georgia. In 2011, while working as a Lead Organizer with 9 to 5 Atlanta Working Women, Marilynn initiated the Georgia campaign to “Ban the Box.” As a result of this work, Atlanta made history by being the first city in the south to ban the box on its employment applications. Cities, counties, and eventually the State of Georgia soon followed Atlanta’s example. In 2013 Marilynn received the 9 to 5 Atlanta Working Women’s Lilly Ledbetter Award for initiating the Ban the Box Campaign and in 2014 she received a letter of recognition from former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Roselynn Carter for her work to end employment discrimination against people with prior convictions in Georgia. In 2014 she received an Inspire Award from First Step Staffing for Achievements in Community Activism.

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Mark Rice

Wisconsin

Mark Rice is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who is examining the emergence and evolution of efforts to end mass imprisonment in Wisconsin. He chairs the Post-Release Issues Workgroup of WISDOM, an organization that links communities across Wisconsin to work for justice. Mark works as a statewide organizer for EXPO (EX-Prisoners Organizing), a group of formerly incarcerated people who drive WISDOM’s ROC (Restoring Our Communities) Wisconsin Campaign to end mass incarceration. Additionally, he serves as a board member for Project RETURN, an agency in Milwaukee that helps people leaving prison make a positive and permanent return to the community.

In 2016, Mark received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Congresswoman Gwen Moore for his outstanding and committed work to end mass incarceration. 

Mark has contributed his expertise on issues including ban the box, rights restoration, and crimeless revocations to numerous news outlets including Wisconsin and Milwaukee Public Radio, the Daily Beast, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Milwaukee Courier, Equal Voice News, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NBC 26, the Daily Kos, Truthout, the Devil’s Advocates Show, and Riverwest Radio.

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Martha Lynn Shearer

Alabama

Martha Lynn Shearer is a native of Birmingham, Alabama where she still resides. She is currently employed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she is a Peer Health Educator for the Alabama Transitions Clinic. Since her release from federal prison twenty years ago, she has become a Licensed Graduate Social Worker and has a Master’s Degree in Addiction Counseling. Martha Lynn is passionate about sentencing/prison reform. Most recently she earned her certification as a Post-Prison Community Health Worker. She is a peer for the Birmingham Community Policing Revitalization Program and participates with the Alabama Jail Ministry. She also serves on the Jefferson County Reentry Supervision and Services Committee of the Jefferson County Reentry Planning Council, is actively involved in her local Neighborhood Association and she has co-presented at the American Public Health Association’s 2014 annual meeting.

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Misty Beruberojo

California

Misty Rojo serves as the Campaign and Policy Director for Justice Now, whose mission is to end violence against women and stop their imprisonment. She is a survivor of domestic violence, a factor in the crime she committed that led to a ten year prison sentence and separated her from her four young sons. While incarcerated in the Central California Women’s Facility, Misty was mentored by true activists for social change and taught the meaning of self-determination and resilience. She believes community solutions can eliminate our reliance on policing and prisons. Misty’s work focuses on campaigns to build coalitions and bring about policy change using an intersectional prison abolition framework. She continues to fight with fierceness and love for people still suffering at the hands of the state. She has learned that true liberation only comes when we stand together and fight together. Most fundamental to Misty’s work, in the words of Audre Lorde, is the idea that “I have a duty to speak the truth as I see it and share not just my triumphs, not just the things that felt good, but the pain, the intense, often unmitigated pain. It is important to share how I know survival is survival and not just a walk through the rain.”

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Monica Jahner

Michigan

Monica Jahner served twenty-eight years in a Michigan state prison. While incarcerated, she founded Kids Need Moms, a program to promote quality visits between children and their mothers in prison. Monica earned a paralegal certificate, an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science. Upon her release from prison, she joined the staff of ARRO, a grassroots reentry program working to eliminate barriers facing people upon their release. Monica was awarded an advocacy grant from Self Development of People Ministry (SDOP) which she used to found the Fair Chance Coalition to Ban the Box. She has worked with legislators to ensure first time drug offenders could receive food stamps, and advocated for the mentally ill in prison and for juvenile life without parole (LWOP) reform. In 2009 Monica was elected to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners Corrections Advisory Board. She also serves on the Prison Correction Section of the State Bar, and facilitates the faith-based Tri-County Re-Entry Coalition. After the death of her brother she took over his comic store and created a nonprofit organization to mentor high-risk youth called Creating Heroes Stephan’s Way.

Monica is on Twitter @moninwlansing

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Nicholas Buckingham

Michigan

Nicholas Buckingham was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  He graduated from Oakland Community College with an associate degree in mental health/social work and is currently a full-time social work student at Oakland University in Michigan.  Nicholas is also a criminal justice reform activist.

The extreme difficulty he has had finding a job because of his criminal record propelled Nicholas into activism and leadership.  Today he is a member of the board of directors of the Detroit chapter of Nation Outside, a new nationwide organization whose mission is to organize, mobilize, and support formerly incarcerated people and their families to advocate for political and social change.  Nicholas is the co-director of Nehemiah House Youth Mentoring, and is a community organizer for Michigan Faith in Action with a strong emphasis on criminal justice reform. 

Nicholas is a leader in the Fair Chances 4 All Campaign (FC4A), a coalition effort comprised of faith, labor, legal, and community organizations aimed at helping people with criminal records find quality employment. The Detroit City Council passed a ‘Ban the Box’ ordinance in 2010. FC4A would extend that rule to include private employers who receive tax breaks from the city.  

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Pamela Allen

Connecticut

Pamela Allen was born in The Bronx, New York City and is a long-time resident of New Haven, Connecticut. In 2002 she founded Evergreen Family Oriented Tree, Inc., a grassroots not-for-profit organization. Evergreen’s mission is to help reduce recidivism in addiction, incarceration, homelessness, education, and employment. Its target population is individuals who are involved or at risk of being involved with the criminal justice system. For many years Pamela has engaged in community organizing through both her church and the City of New Haven. She currently serves as the Chairperson for the New Haven Reentry Roundtable, a group she has participated in for over seven years.

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Pamela Clifton

Colorado

Pam Clifton is Communication Coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC).  She studied psychology and sociology at the University of Colorado and University of Washington and has spent the last two years studying filmmaking at the Open Media Foundation. Pam served seven years in prison in Colorado for a minor drug conviction and successfully completed parole in 2005.

Pam has worked as a fundraiser and supervisor for a local fundraising organization that raises money for non-profit and political organizations around the country. She joined the staff of CCJRC in 2006 to see collateral consequences reduced, drug laws changed, parole laws reformed and the warehousing of people in Colorado stopped.  As the communications coordinator for CCJRC, Pam has prioritized voter education to make sure Coloradans with criminal records know they have the right to vote. She is also working on a campaign to make the decisions of district attorneys more transparent and accountable.  

Today Pam is gearing up to join the national effort to resist the rollback of healthcare access for millions of low-income people.  Several years ago, CCJRC launched its Take Care Health Matters campaign after Colorado decided to expand eligibility for Medicaid.  “This was a game-changer for justice-involved people,” Pam says.  “It offers the single most effective opportunity to stop criminalizing low-income people with mental illness or addiction and help them get care – not a cage.”  

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Pamela Kennebrew

Pennsylvania

Pamela Kennebrew is a scholar activist from Philadelphia, PA. She is a Professor of Social Psychology at Harcum College and Lincoln University and teaches “behind the wall” in Philadelphia area prisons.  Pamela holds certification as a workforce development specialist for women offenders from the National Institute of Corrections and Certificates in Leadership Development from Rutgers University and the Kaleidoscope Leadership Institute. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Fielding Graduate University, a Masters in Human Services with a specialty in counseling from Lincoln University and a BA from Thomas Edison College. 

Pamela is the Founder and President of the Black Women’s Center for Carceral Empowerment.  The organization’s mission is to expand the conversation regarding mass incarceration by affirmatively and intentionally including those convicted of crimes but not incarcerated.   It is committed to the restoration of economic, educational and political rights of those whose lives have been adversely impacted by a criminal conviction.  Through her work, Pamela seeks to raise awareness and foster research and scholarship regarding those women who have been convicted of crimes but not sentenced to prison – “the invisible members of the convict class.” 

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Pamela Winn

Georgia

Pamela Winn is an activist from Atlanta, Georgia.  The single mother of two sons who has three post-secondary degrees in Nursing and is an entrepreneur with two successful businesses, she served a five-year federal sentence for a white-collar crime.  Rather than diminishing her spirit, the losses she experienced while in prison – separation of her family, a miscarriage, the revocation of her nursing license, and the closing of her businesses – actually empowered her to become an advocate for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.

In the four years since she returned home, Pamela has become a criminal justice reform leader in her community.  As a member of Women On The Rise Telling Her Story(WORTH) and 9 to 5 Atlanta Working Women, she organized support for Georgia’s successful “Ban the Box” campaign.  Pamela serves on the advisory board of WORTH, an advocacy group composed of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women.  She is the Organizing Director of Reverse the Cycle of Incarceration which works to reduce the number of women under correctional supervision in her state, and is a member of the Women’s Advisory Team, comprised of women working to end mass incarceration and public health professionals who come together to address the social determinants of criminalization.  Pamela Winn will proudly represent Georgia in the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. in August 2017.  

 

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Patrice Palmer

Ohio

Patrice Palmer is the programmer developer of Chosen4Change, a cognitive behavioral therapy modality which assists hurting individuals to become equipped with necessary tools to break the cycles of dysfunctional thinking, actions, and behaviors through The Process of Change and Laying the Foundation. She is the founding Program Director for Conquest, a therapeutic community at Chillicothe Correctional Institution, and served as Program Director for Jessie’s World, which assists women and children to reunite in a safe home environment, and Operations Manager for The Exit Program, where she established the EXIT Program for Women (EPW). Patrice holds a Baccalaureate and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. A Licensed Prevention Specialist and Chemical Dependency Counselor. She is an active member of the Franklin County Reentry Task Force Coalition in Columbus, Ohio and formerly served as a member of ACME, a reentry sub-committee for the formerly incarcerated with mental health issues. She holds an Ordained Elder of Ministry License and is the former President of Columbus-based Raising the Bar Prison Ministries at Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies. Patrice has been awarded numerous awards including the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director’s Impact Award for service, Wings of Fire Trail Blazer award, and an Executive International Women’s Scholarship.

Patrice is on Twitter @PalmerPatrice

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Patricia McCray

Florida

Patricia B. McCray is an author, a certified John Maxwell Coach, and a teacher, trainer and speaker from Tallahassee, Florida. She is the Founder and CEO of Butterfly Life Journeys, a faith-based organization providing coaching, training, and mentoring to those recovering from adversity. Patricia is a passionate advocate for community reentry and criminal justice reform. She compares her life experiences of domestic violence, incarceration, homelessness, financial and health crises to the four stages of metamorphosis experienced by the caterpillar becoming a butterfly. 

Patricia is employed by the City of Tallahassee as the Assistant to the City Manager.   She is committed to community service and understands the inner workings of government. Patricia is a teacher and mentor for the Federal Correctional Institution Tallahassee, where she was formerly incarcerated for 3 years. She serves as a member of the Big Bend After Reentry Coalition, the board of the Emergency Care Help Organization, the Tallahassee/Leon County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls (CSWG), and the Federal Correctional Institution Tallahassee Community Relations Board. She is also an alumnus of Leadership Tallahassee Class 33, 2015. 

As an advocate, Patricia continues to serve vulnerable populations in her community and seeks to mentor and inspire others to pursue their vision and achieve their dreams.

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Patty Katz

Oregon

Patty Katz is the Portland/Metro Organizer for Oregon Action, a statewide, multi-racial community organization dedicated to social justice. As a formerly incarcerated woman, she brings a wealth of experience to her work relating to reentry and recovery from active addiction. Patty led two successful Ban the Box Campaigns in Oregon in 2006 and 2007. Today she is working with the Oregon AFL- CIO and the Urban League on city- and state-wide campaigns for the 2015 legislative session. Patty currently serves on the Governor’s Reentry Council and is on the boards of directors of Faces and Voices of Recovery, Oregon CURE, and Bridges to Change. She is a founder of the Hands Across the Bridge Project whose mission is to provide leadership development for the recovering and reentry communities. Each year thousands of people from Oregon and Washington come together and join hands across the state lines to celebrate the courage it takes to fight addiction and the freedom and hope that come with recovery.

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Reuben Jones

Pennsylvania

Reuben Jones is a Philadelphia-based community activist and social justice advocate who is Executive Director of Frontline Dads, Inc. where he provides transitional services to men and women returning from incarceration. He also serves as the Social Services Director for the Focused Deterrence Gun Violence Reduction Strategy, working to reduce gun violence in the city by conducting prevention-based, transformative interventions with at risk individuals. 

Reuben is a clinical therapist who obtained his Master’s Degree in Human Services from Lincoln University in 2009. His social justice advocacy work has included “Ban The Box”, bail reform, ex-offender voting rights, the juvenile lifer’s re-sentencing project, and prison deconstruction. He is a member of the Philadelphia Re-Entry Coalition as well as the NO215Jails Coalition. Reuben served on the Mayor’s Transition Team (Public Safety Committee) and on the Universal Pre-K Commission. 

Reuben is also a National Institute of Corrections-trained facilitator for the “Thinking ForA Change” cognitive skills development program in the Philadelphia County prisons where he works with men preparing for release. Additionally, he founded “Peacemakers” to end urban street violence by teaching youth conflict resolution skills and violence prevention strategies. For his humanitarian efforts, Reuben was awarded the 2016 Presidential Service Award by President Obama.

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Richard Smith

New York

Richard Smith is a scholar/change agent with a decade of experience developing and implementing community-based programs for disadvantaged populations. He has developed reentry programs for returning citizens at both the Center for Law and Justice and Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC) in Albany, New York. Richard has worked with high risk youth as both a case manager and program director in New York’s Capital District and the City of Boston. 

Richard has taught criminal justice and history courses as an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Empire State College and Sage College and has lectured at numerous colleges and universities on issues such as racism, mass incarceration, and urban education. He is presently a doctoral candidate at SUNY Albany’s School of Social Welfare. His research focus is male survivors of childhood sexual abuse and healing wounded healers. Richard is currently the Director of Liberty Partnerships Program, a college access program that serves over 300 students and families in the city of Albany. He holds a Masters Degree from the University at Albany in Africana Studies and a Bachelors Degree from Boston University in Sociology. He is the proud father of two sons, Kaden (3 years.) and Kaleb (4 years).

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Ronald D. Simpson-Bey

Michigan

Ronald D. Simpson-Bey is a Program Associate for the Criminal Justice Program at American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He heads up their restorative justice co- mentorship program, The Good Neighbor Project, designed to shift public discourse on punishment in Michigan. He also works as a Research Assistant at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work. Ronald is part of the newly formed Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration in Michigan as well as a steering team member of the now-forming Returning Citizens Coalition. Ronald is a co-founder and advisory board member of the Chance For Life (CFL) organization in Detroit, Michigan. Ronald comes to this work from many dimensions. He served 27 years in the prison system as an engaged, thoughtful, and creative leader, founding many enrichment programs rooted in transformation, redemption, and self-accountability. Ronald regularly shares his work and his fascinating experiences with legislators, schools, and any interested parties. parties. Ronald was a jailhouse lawyer who got himself out of prison. He attended Eastern Michigan University, Mott Community College, and Jackson Community College. He has worked as a staff paralegal at Prison Legal Services of Michigan. Ronald is on Twitter @BeySimpson

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Samuel Lewis

California

When Samuel Lewis was paroled on January 12, 2012, a new chapter of his life began.  Within sixty days of his release, he obtained parttime employment with PetCo as a Sales Associate, and a full time internship with Shields for Families as a Youth Mentor.   The internship with Shields for Families led to full time employment with Friends Outside in Los Angeles County (FOLA) working directly with the reentry population. At FOLA, Samuel servedas a Job Specialistassisting formerly incarcerated men and women in obtaining and retaining full time employment; and as a Case Manager, ensuring that previously incarcerated men and women were connected with all resources necessary for a successful transition from incarceration to society. 

Hard work and determination opened the door for Samuel to become the Project Coordinator for a $1.2 million Department of Labor ReEntry ExOffender (REXO) grant, and in that capacity, he exceeded all the required measures. 

Samuel says, “My experiences have continuously reinforced my commitment to change, second chances, and deliverance of all formally incarcerated men and women as they transition back into society.”  He completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Degree,graduating Magna Cum Laude with a 3.76 grade point average.  Currently, Samuel is asupervisor for the Los Angeles-based Anti-Recidivism Coalition

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Sandy LoMonico

Connecticut

Sandy LoMonico is a social worker, leader, recognized community organizer and criminal justice reform advocate who has worked with numerous youth and community leaders to bring change to the City of Hartford, Connecticut. She received her dual degree in social work and public health while working as a graduate research assistant. Her focus was analyzing complex social justice issues related to the lives of African American and Latino families. 

Sandy served as the co-chair of the Student Sub-Committee of Just Community: Change Starts Here, which promoted equality for diverse populations of students on campus. She is also the founder of the student sub-organization Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI). Sandy mentors urban youth, has served as a Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor, and assisted with the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Project in Connecticut. She was the lead organizer of the annual Stop Mass Incarceration Week at the University of Connecticut, assisted in passing the state’s Second Chance legislation, led numerous workshops, and advocated for Raise the Age and Ban the Box legislation.  

In 2016, her efforts were officially recognized by the City of Hartford and by the Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers which presented her with its Student of the Year Award.http://naswct.org/events/annual-awards-dinner-2016/

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Shae Harris

Washington DC

Shae Harris is the Policy Advisor for the Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice in Washington, D.C, where she informs policies for people touched by the criminal justice system. In her role, she conducts in-depth research, analyzes programmatic initiatives related to returning citizens, and serves as the liaison between community-based organizations and local/national stakeholders within the reentry community.

Shae strongly believes that systemic change happens at the policy-level which prompted her to obtain her Master of Public Administration from American University. She also holds Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from North Carolina A&T State University, and received a Nonprofit Executive Management Certificate from Georgetown University.

Shae previously served as the Deputy Director at the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs in D.C., and in various capacities in the nonprofit sector where her efforts were dedicated to transforming the lives of the District’s most vulnerable residents. She has a wealth of experience from working to improve the lives of marginalized and underserved populations in the District, and sincerely believes that we are the change-agents that we are seeking.

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Shawn Gardner

Mississippi

With more than a decade of problem solving experience working with families and communities in Louisville, Kentucky, Shawn Gardner has developed a keen insight into how to analyze problems and develop practical solutions.  As a community activist and fatherhood advocate he has brought together various entities to improve communities and strengthen families.

Shawn is the founder of 2NOT1: Fatherhood & Families, where he works to change how fathers interact with their children and their children’s mother. Success is achieved by changing fathers’ societal perceptions, and through paternal education and empowerment as well as  development of co-parenting strategies so children benefit from the love and support of both parents.  Shawn believes that through 2NOT1 he can “change the lives of children, one father at a time.” 

In addition to working with fathers, Shawn created a youth development program, implemented in various school districts, that teaches young black males to recognize and manage conflict in their lives and strengthen their decision-making ability. Mr. Gardner has a Masters in Conflict Management, is a Leadership Louisville Bingham Fellow, a Practitioner Leadership Institute Fellow, and is an author of a memoir “Me vs Me, Vol: 1 – The Struggle Within.”  Currently he is earning his PhD in Agriculture Extension Education from Mississippi State University.

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Shelton T. McElroy

Kentucky

Shelton T. McElroy has a Master’s Degree in Education and Human Development from Lindsey Wilson School of Professional Counseling. He is the Parent Engagement Manager with the Metro United Way of Louisville, Kentucky, where he aids numerous families in developing a pipeline from aspiration, to education, to occupation. Shelton became a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels in 2010. This organization, founded in 1813, provides financial support to Kentucky charitable and educational institutions and organizations. He has been a featured speaker at numerous conferences and events, and is the recipient of the Kentucky Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (KACRAO) Plenary Speaker Award. Shelton was recently honored by Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY), founder of Fathers for Fathers, a grassroots organization advocating healthy fatherhood. In addition, he is a Parent Advocate with the Department of Community-Based Services where he assists parents who have come into contact with the child welfare system by advocating and walking them through the reunification process. Shelton’s passion and focus is on overcoming obstacles and reunifying families.

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Steve R. Gordon

Texas

Steve Gordon is a native of Oklahoma City and is the president of Strategic Reentry Group, the first for-profit consulting firm founded by an ex-offender in prisoner reentry solutions. He currently serves as the project manager for the Tarrant Country Reentry Coalition in Fort Worth, Texas, one of the largest reentry coalitions in the nation. Prior to receiving a felony conviction in 1999, Steve worked for 23 years in the computer industry, eventually becoming a national-level consultant specializing in strategic solutions. Since his release in 2002, he has had a passion for “solving reentry” and has worked in many capacities, including two years as the state director of the Oklahoma Partnership for Successful Reentry. Steve is the creator of the Framework for Reentry Reformation and author of Purposeful Neighboring: Creating Reentry-Ready Communities. His areas of focus are reentry success strategies in communities and corrections; collaborative approaches to reducing recidivism; program design for difficult populations; sex offender reentry, post-prison aftercare, and community supervision strategies; automation of the reentry process; and conference planning. Steve is also a Federally-certified grant writer and authority on fundraising for controversial causes. Steve is on Twitter @brothersteveokc

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Tari Williams

Alabama

Tari received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland in 1992. In 1998, she received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law. After completing law school, she worked at the Office of the State’s Attorney for the City of Baltimore as an Assistant State’s Attorney. 

In 2000, Tari returned to Alabama, to be near her family.  She worked at American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and Greater Birmingham Ministries in Birmingham, Alabama before accepting a position in 2006 at the University of Alabama School of Law as the Director of the Public Interest Institute. After just two years on the job, Tari was promoted to Assistant Dean of Public Interest Law.

In 2011, after a series of Category III tornadoes devastated the Birmingham metro area, Tari returned to Greater Birmingham Ministries.  In her current role as Organizing Director, Tari is actively working to ensure that Alabama’s poorest and most marginalized residents are given a fair and equitable voice in the implementation of social and economic policies that affect their dignity, quality of life and human/legal rights.

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Teresa Y. Hodge

Maryland

Teresa Y. Hodge is a committed champion for people living with an arrest and/or conviction record in America. It was a 70-month federal prison sentence for a white-collar, non-violent, first-time offense that introduced her first-hand to the criminal justice system and mass incarceration in America. As an entrepreneur “doing time” in prison she maximized her sentence by studying the prison system and its adverse impact on people from the inside.  She co-founded Mission: Launch, Inc. with her daughter, Laurin Hodge. The organization strives to accelerate self-sufficiency for formerly incarcerated individuals (and those facing similar discrimination due to an arrest record). The Hodges advocate for reentry reform nationwide but call the Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC Metropolitan regions home.

In 2017 she launched the for-profit Benefit Corporation, Human Centered Decision Labs LLC, as the sister organization to Mission: Launch. This hybrid strategy allows Teresa to focus on software development expected to disrupt the People Ops Tech space. This dedication to tech to improve reentry outcomes has led to key recognition. She is a 2017 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award recipient (South by Southwest – SXSW community award).  Likewise, in 2016 she received an Open Society Soros Justice Fellowship award. Her project advocates for tech inclusion for people with arrest and/or conviction records. As an advocate, she informs and engages cross-sector influencers to close the digital divide created by mass incarceration in America. Teresa believes that without tech education and inclusion at the core of reentry mediations millions of Americans will remain unplugged – and locked out of sustainable opportunities.

Teresa’s TEDx talk – We’ve Made Coming Home Too Hard, highlights the impact of personal bias and social stigma on formerly incarcerated people.  In 2015 she was selected for the inaugural cohort of JustLeadershipUSA’s Leading with Conviction Training.  She is a certified Prison Reentry Life Coach and is committed to reducing the lasting harm caused by prison to millions of people living with a conviction in America.

If you’re active on social media please feel free to follow her: @TeresaYHodge

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Theresa Sweeney

Oregon

Theresa Sweeney is fully committed to uniting with others to combat mass incarceration, which she believes is the most important human rights issue facing our country today. Her interest in the criminal justice system began thirty-five years ago when she was studying what was then a fairly new discipline – Criminology and Criminal Justice. In 2010, she received her Master’s Degree in that field from Portland State University. When Theresa was sentenced to prison in 2003, she witnessed firsthand the arbitrary and cruel nature of the mass incarceration system. After her release, she was driven by her passion to assist others who shared a similar experience. She was a leader in Oregon’s Ban the Box movement, testified before the state legislature, and made media appearances urging its adoption. Theresa has a vibrant communication style, which she utilizes as Outreach Coordinator for the Hands Across the Bridge Project whose mission is to provide leadership development for the recovering and reentering communities. She currently works as a Volunteer Coordinator for Volunteers of America.

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Toni Bunton

Michigan

Toni Bunton is a mom, business owner and passionate advocate for criminal justice reform. She believes in the power of storytelling to change the criminal justice landscape. In 1991, a 17 year-old Toni Bunton was sentenced to 25-50 years for driving the car in a botched marijuana deal. While in prison she witnessed unthinkable carnage. Toni began documenting the abuse and writing about her experiences as “Prisoner Bunton.” She became a published author and a lead witness in a landmark sexual harassment case brought by over 500 female prisoners. Toni served seventeen years in prison before Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm commuted her sentence. After her release, she began work in Detroit as a community organizer and youth prevention advocate. Toni went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies from the University of Michigan, receiving the 2011 Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Creative Writing Award for her thesis entitled, “A Tree Grows in Prison.” Toni has served on many youth boards and initiatives in the Detroit area and is a sought after speaker for college and university audiences.

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Tony Funchess

Oregon

Tony Funchess is an accomplished community leader based in Portland, Oregon with a history of advocating for marginalized communities.  As a college student, Tony helped organize numerous impactful events and conferences.  In December 2015, he was a driving force behind a Students Of Color Speakout at Portland State University which has had a major impact on the institution.  In the words of the College President, “The Students of Color Speak Out has transformed our pedagogy of instruction and curriculum development.”

Tony’s community leadership includes executive roles in both the local NAACP as well as the Urban League of Portland’s Young Professional Network.  He has been a long-time advocate, member and leader in a host of other organizations representing LGBTQ rights, public safety, criminal justice, and student rights.

Today, Tony works as a consultant with arts organizations in his state.  His work has been elevating the conversation around diversity, social justice, and community engagement in arenas that tend to be exclusive and lacking in diverse representation.  This work has allowed Tony to marry his passions for justice, art, leadership development, and community engagement.  He hopes to continue this work and develop it into a career of consulting that is helping shape the conversation for transformative change.

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Troy F. Vaughn

California

Troy F. Vaughn is the Executive Director and Chair of the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, a network of over 400 organizations throughout Los Angeles County dedicated to creating viable housing, employment solutions and system-wide policy change for formerly incarcerated persons.   He also serves as Senior Pastor of Inglewood Community Church.  Throughout his 20+ year career, Troy has held a wide range of executive roles in the Los Angeles area; and currently serves as the Chief Executive of a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center.  He has also been instrumental in the successful growth, innovation, branding and integration of key systems and program designs within the reentry, homeless and health sectorsfor families, veterans, the formerly incarcerated, substance abusers, the mentally ill and the chronically homeless.  

Troy is active in local, state and federal initiatives in both the for profit and notfor-profit sectors that provide services to disenfranchised populations, including programs on institutional community systems analysis, and community and public relations.  In 2015 he was invited to the White House to discuss implementation strategies around Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), a pre-booking diversion program that allows police officers to redirect low-level offenders to community-based services instead of jail and prosecution..  Troy serves on the Public Safety Realignment Team as the CBO/FBO Representative and the Office of Diversion and Reentry Permanent Steering Committee as a CBO Representative for Supervisorial District 2.

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Venus Woods

Alaska

Venus Star Woods was born and raised in Alaska. Growing up, both her parents struggled with substance abuse and she spent a big part of her childhood in the foster care system. Following in her parents footsteps, Venus faced her own issues with substance use which eventually landed her in prison. After her last incarceration in 2009, she vowed to break the cycle of substance abuse and recidivism in both her family and her community. 

Venus has worked in the re-entry field for over five years.  She is a certified Chemical Dependency Counselor I for the State of Alaska and a certified facilitator for Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), a program designed to alter how individuals make decisions between right and wrong.. Venus has worked at the Alaska Native Justice Center (ANJC), where she helped implement that organization’s prison in-reach efforts. 

Venus currently works as the Reentry Supervisor for the Cook Inlet Tribal Council.  She regularly visits the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, the Goose Creek Correctional Center, and the Anchorage Jail   where she connects individuals with programs and services that may be the key to helping them stay out of prison.  “Reentry starts the day you go into prison,” she explains. “The day somebody starts serving their sentence is the day they need to start preparing to live their life differently.”  Venus is a team member of Alaska’s first federal re-entry court; “Hope Court” and serves on the Steering Committee for the Anchorage Re-entry Coalition.  Her current advocacy priority is lobbying to bring substance abuse assessments into the prisons so individuals who are released can more easily access treatment.

 

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Waleisah Wilson

Georgia

Waleisah Wilson is the founder of NewLife-Second Chance Outreach, Inc. in Columbus, Georgia.  Its mission is to reduce crime and recidivism by equipping, empowering and restoring hope to socially and economically disadvantaged individuals affected by a criminal record through workforce development and job readiness training.  Waleisah is a dedicated advocate for reforming the criminal justice system and supports efforts that address eliminating the barriers to reentry and the stigmas associated with having a criminal record.  She has personally struggled with those barriers as she herself is a formerly incarcerated individual.  As someone who has successfully transitioned back into the community despite not being able to find employment, she is a firm believer in being the change that she wants to see within her community. 

Waleisah holds a Master’s Degree in Human Services with a concentration in Social and Community Services, a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management, and a Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice. Through her work at NewLife-Second Chance Outreach, Inc. and her active community involvement, she is known and respected as a community leader and reentry expert and is often asked to be a speaker at community events. She has a close working relationship with local employers, community organizations and law enforcement and corrections agencies, including the Department of Community Supervision – the very same agency that supervised her probation upon her release from prison in 2011.

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William “Bill” Cobb

Pennsylvania

William “Bill” Cobb resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he works as a community activist and advocate for people who have been adversely impacted by the criminal justice system. He served as the Executive Director of the Urban Angel Foundation whose mission is to empower communities and inspire men, women and children to achieve positive, stable and productive lifestyles. Bill also served as the vice president of the Ex-Offenders Association of PA, and has worked with numerous organizations, including the Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney Office (Eastern District). He recently founded REDEEMED, a new organization focused on the elimination of systemic employment discrimination practices aimed at people living with arrest and conviction records. Bill is on Twitter @REDEEMEDPA

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