The most compelling advocates of change are those who have been directly affected by incarceration.
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
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.
July 13, 2016
September 16, 2016 at 11:59PM Eastern Time
Please direct all Leading with Conviction questions to:
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
Organizing, launching, managing and funding an advocacy organization dedicated to the reduction of the juvenile and adult prison populations.
Creating and sustaining an informed network of committed advocates dedicated to regional and national decarceration.
Launching and leading an advocacy effort in your community including: recruitment, strategy development, leadership development, mobilizing, implementation and evaluation.
Mastering policy messaging and media skills, one-on-one communication, strategic story-telling, writing and platform skills.
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 @Ceady2Contact Me
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.Contact Me
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.Contact Me
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 also serves 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, a mentor for the Florida Department of Corrections Mentoring Program, and a member of the Big Bend After Re-Entry Coalition (BBARC). 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.Contact Me
DeAnna Hoskins is Hamilton County, Ohio’s first Re-Entry Director. As Director of Reentry, Ms. Hoskins is responsible for reducing recidivism; increasing county-wide public safety; reducing correctional spending; and representing the County on various boards and commissions focused on social services and/or criminal justice. She has spent over ten years working in re-entry positions of increasing responsibility. Her experience includes implementing supportive housing and transitional employment programs, facilitating offender re-entry, offender workforce development, and structuring and implementing systemic changes. DeAnna holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. She is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor and is certified as an Offender Workforce Development Specialist and Recovery and Peer-to-Peer Coach. DeAnna has experienced the re-entry system from all perspectives as she is herself a formerly incarcerated individual who has successfully transitioned back into the community. She received a pardon from Governor Ted Strickland in 2009 and an expungement from Judge Norbert Nadel in 2010.Contact Me
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 @donhylton1Contact Me
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.
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 @GalenBaughmanContact Me
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.Contact Me
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 @JamiraBurleyContact Me
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 @jasoncleavelandContact Me
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.Contact Me
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.
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.Contact Me
Kathleen is on Twitter @KathleenCulhaneContact Me
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.Contact Me
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 @KhaCumberbatchContact Me
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.Contact Me
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.Contact Me
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.Contact Me
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.Contact Me
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.Contact Me
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.Contact Me
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.Contact Me
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.”Contact Me
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 @moninwlansingContact Me
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.Contact Me
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 @PalmerPatriceContact Me
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.Contact Me
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 @BeySimpsonContact Me
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.Contact Me
Steve R. 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 @brothersteveokcContact Me
Teresa Y. Hodge a passionate advocate for people with criminal connections, is committed to reducing the lasting harm caused by prison. It was a seventy-month federal prison sentence for a white-collar, non-violent, first-time offense that introduced her to the justice system. Upon coming home, she and her daughter Laurin Hodge co-founded Mission: Launch, Inc. a non-profit with a mission of enabling citizen-led movements towards a more just society. In November 2014 the organization hosted “Rebuilding Re-entry: A Social Justice Hackathon” in Washington, D.C. This three-day event, attended by nearly 300 people, grew to become a collective of organizations and individuals focused on making the city more re-entry friendly. As the Director of Strategy & Innovation for Mission: Launch, Inc. Teresa plays a critical role in building strategic partnerships and establishing social enterprise models for greater reach and sustainability. Prior experience as an entrepreneur allowed Teresa to maximize her time in prison looking for best practices to help her, and others, get back on their feet upon release. Teresa is a certified life coach for women, with a specialty in re-entry. Her memoir and private coaching practice, Pearls & Prison brings meaning and closure to the time away. Teresa is on Twitter @TeresaYHodgeContact Me
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.Contact Me
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.Contact Me
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 @REDEEMEDPAContact Me