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2024 Speakers

Keynote Speakers

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Ian Manuel

Author and Motivational Speaker

As a thirteen-year-old in Tampa, Ian Manuel was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for attempted murder after his participation in a botched robbery. Manuel served 26 years in prison until Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative secured his release in 2016, 18 of which (starting at age 15) were in solitary confinement. While incarcerated, Manuel began writing poetry, which he credits for keeping him sane and giving him hope, and he also befriended his victim, who is now one of his closest friends and fiercest advocates. His memoir My Time Will Come was released by Pantheon in May 2021. Manuel now lives in New York City, and is a motivational speaker at schools and social organizations nationwide.

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Marcus Bullock

Founder/CEO | Flikshop

Marcus Bullock is an entrepreneur, justice reform advocate, and TED speaker. Following his 2004 release from prison, he launched a construction business that grew to employ other returning citizens. Bullock is also founder and CEO of Flikshop, Inc., a software company that builds tools to help incarcerated people stay connected to their families and build community.

 

The Flikshop mobile app enables families and non-profit organizations to send mail to incarcerated people, with the mission of using social connections, tech, and data to help decrease recidivism around the world. He also founded the Flikshop School of Business, a program that teaches returning citizens life skills and entrepreneurship via computer coding and software development. As Forbes writes, “Will Flikshop, the Instagram for prisons, solve all of [the mass incarceration] issues? No. But Flikshop typifies the sort of work that needs support to scale to address these issues from many angles.”

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Tamara Springs

Trainer,Advocate, and Author

Tamara Springs graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education from Langston University and earned an M.Ed. in Educational Administration from Wichita State University. Additionally, she obtained post-graduate certification in District-Level Leadership from Wichita State University.

With a career spanning over 25 years, Tamara has excelled in leading and nurturing teams in public education, higher education, and the nonprofit sector. She has held various positions such as Classroom Teacher, Principal, Assistant Superintendent, Adjunct Professor of Leadership, and Executive Director. Transitioning to an independent consultant role, she undertook diverse contract assignments, including coaching school leadership teams, evaluating educational curricula, and conducting program audits.

In 2017, Tamara collaborated with Gideon’s Promise, a nonprofit organization in Atlanta, to implement audit enhancements. After her release from prison in 2020, she rejoined Gideon’s Promise as Program Director and later served as Interim Chief Operating Officer. Presently, she serves as Training Manager at the Center for Employment Opportunities.

Selected for Just Leadership USA (JLUSA): Leading With Conviction -** Cohort 10** in Fall 2023, Tamara’s wealth of experiences reflects her dedication to leadership development, social impact initiatives, and human welfare.

Outside of work, Tamara's interests include horses, reading, board games, thrifting, family time, and exploring new dining experiences as a self-proclaimed “foodie.” She is bilingual and revels in Spanish culture during her travels.


A native of Wichita, KS,  Tamara resides just outside of Atlanta, GA, with her husband.  Together, they are the proud parents to four adult children and four grandchildren. 

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Tony Hoffman

From Prison to the Olympics

After paroling prison on December 13, 2008, Tony Hoffman started living out his dream, with his addiction behind him. Tony is a Former BMX Elite Pro and placed 2nd at the 2016 World Championships in Medellin Colombia in the Masters Pro class. Tony coached Women’s Elite Pro, Brooke Crain, to a 4th place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil. 

Tony has presented on the prestigious TEDx stage and his viral Goalcast video ‘From Prison to the Olympics’ has been viewed more than 12 million times. He is a founder of pH Wellness, a drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Southern California which uses his ‘F.I.T For Life’ sobriety model utilizing fitness and a world class career placement center to increase long term recovery outcomes. 

Tony is an author & one of the most requested mental health & substance use speakers in the country, traveling over 200 days a year to share his inspiring story with various audiences.

Featured Speaker

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Dr. Nancy La Vigne

Director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ)

Nancy La Vigne was appointed by President Biden as Director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research and technology arm of the U.S Department of Justice, on March 28, 2022.  A nationally recognized criminal justice policy expert, Dr. La Vigne’s research expertise ranges from policing and corrections reform to reentry from prison, criminal justice technologies and evidence-based criminal justice practices. Prior to joining NIJ, she served as executive director of the Council on Criminal Justice’s Task Force on Policing. Before that, La Vigne served as vice president at the Urban Institute (Urban), a nonprofit social policy research organization based in Washington, D.C., where over the course of a decade, she directed Urban’s Justice Policy Center. Her tenure at Urban included serving as executive director of the congressionally-mandated bipartisan Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections Reform.

 

Dr. La Vigne is not new to NIJ, having been the founding director of the Institute’s Crime Mapping Research Center several years ago, as well as serving as special assistant to Office of Justice Program’s Acting Assistant Attorney General. She holds a Ph.D. in criminal justice from Rutgers University-Newark, a master’s degree in public affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School at the University of Texas-Austin and a bachelor’s degree in government and economics from Smith College.

Speakers

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Amy Arrell

Service Director | Open Sky Community Services

Amy Arrell is the Service Director of Community Services at Open Sky Community Services in Worcester, MA.  In this role, she oversees 24 community-based programs assisting over 2,000 individuals and families experiencing justice involvement, homelessness, substance use and mental health disorders, and other social determinants of health needs.  Amy was a leader in the development of the Behavioral Health for Justice Involved pilot program with MassHealth and Trial Courts in 2019 which now has statewide contracts and Medicaid benefit coverage (CSP-JI).  During Spring 2020, she helped lead the "Outreach Connect Refer" model to support incarcerated individuals being released during the uptick of COVID-19.  Most recently, Amy has been a leader in the development and implementation of the state's first Department of Correction funded after incarceration support service, Community Compass at Open Sky. Amy started her career 27 years ago working with adolescents and young adults in group living environments and community outreach programs.  She developed and implemented the peer support program at The Bridge of Central MA.  Amy is a contributor to the Transition of Youth and Young Adults with Emotional or Behavioral Difficulties: An Evidence Supported Handbook. Amy was awarded the Marie Hobart Community First Award in 2018. 

Jennifer Brinkley

Jennifer Brinkley, J.D.

Assistant Professor of Legal Studies | University of West Florida

Jennifer L. Brinkley, an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies, has a J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law, practiced law and taught at both the University of Colorado at Denver and at Western Kentucky University before joining UWF in 2019.  She teaches courses on women and the law, criminal procedure, evidence, legal research and writing, family law, law and society, among others. Brinkley’s research focuses on women and the law and criminal justice issues.

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Benjamin Brouillette

Operations Director | Open Sky Community Services

Benjamin Brouillette, Operations Director of The Community Compass at Open Sky Community Services in Worcester, MA. In this role, he oversees the daily operations of the state's first Department of Correction funded after incarceration support service. Benjamin has various lived experiences with incarceration and is active in recovery from substance use. With a passion for aiding individuals in finding and maintaining a new way of life he joined the Behavioral Health Justice Involved program at Open Sky in 2021. Benjamin was involved with the planning and implementation of the Community Compass Drop-in Center before being promoted to the position of Operations Director. This role allows Benjamin to use his living experience and passion to be an effective leader in providing services to individuals with a history of incarceration.

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Michael Carrington

Statewide Veterans Coordinator | Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Michael Carrington currently serves as the PA Department of Corrections Statewide Veterans Coordinator. He was appointed to this position in December of 2020.  

Michael began his employment with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a Corrections Officer in 2007, following an honorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps as a Sergeant in 2006. Also in 2006, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Park University with a B.S. Degree in Criminal Justice, minor in Management.

 

In September of 2008, he obtained a position with the PA Board of Probation and Parole as an Institutional Parole Agent. He was then promoted to Institutional Parole Supervisor in January of 2011, where he remained until his recent appointment.

He is currently active as the Operations Manager for the Middle Atlantic States Correctional Association (MASCA), Vice President for the Community Corrections Association of Pennsylvania (CCAPA), and Chair for the PA Governor’s Advisory Council for Veteran Services Judiciary Committee.

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Dr. John K. Cochran

Professor and Chair | University of South Florida, Department of Criminology

John Cochran, Ph.D., is Professor of Criminology at the University of South Florida. He received his B.A. (1980), M. A. (1982), and Ph.D. (1987) in Sociology from the University of Florida. His teaching and research interests include micro-social theories of criminal behavior, macro-social theories of crime and crime control, assessments of issues regarding the legitimacy of capital punishment, and quantitative data collection and analysis. Dr. Cochran has published approximately 150 articles, book chapters, and reports, is an ad hoc reviewer for 46 professional journals, and has served on the editorial boards of Justice Quarterly, Deviant Behavior, Journal of Drug Issues, Criminal Justice Policy Review, Sociological Inquiry, Journal of Crime and Justice, and several others.

Hope Cross

Hope Cross

Founder | Cultivating Hope Training and Consulting

Hope’s journey with the justice-impacted started BEYOND the barbed wire, when she was born to her biological mother who was incarcerated in Houston, Texas.

She has a lifetime of personal experience and over 20 years of professional experience that has been cultivated to help her develop into a multi-dimensional leader who has served the most underserved populations throughout Florida and train organizations throughout the United States.

Hope helps organizations strengthen their client engagement, enhance client rapport, and magnify client and organizational success rates with a blend of Trauma-Informed Care practices, Resiliency elements, and out-of-the-box navigation.

Hope is the founder of the Cultivating Hope Foundation, Inc., and author of Beyond the Barbed Wire.

She has supported the Florida Department of Corrections and the Missouri Department of Corrections by leading groups within prisons and training facilitators to support men and women BEYOND the BARBED WIRE.

Her purpose-driven mission is to use her experience and skillset to snuff out radical darkness by cultivating radical hope.

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Megan Downing, M.S.

Clinical Director | Open Sky Community Services

Megan Downing, M.S., is the Clinical Director of Community Compass at Open Sky Community Services in Worcester, MA. In this role, Megan is responsible for overseeing clinical operations and implementation of the state's first Department of Correction funded after incarceration support program. Megan has her Bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Worcester State University (2019) and her Master's degree in criminal justice and strategic management from Boston University (2023). Megan has experience working in various different subsectors of the Criminal Justice system, including 911 dispatching, working within the prison system, victim/survivor work and most recently working within the reentry system.  Megan's passion for helping others started when she was younger and was enhanced by being selected as an inaugural member to represent her town at Project 351, an independent nonprofit organization that fosters youth-led service by engaging a leader from each of Massachusetts' 351 cities and towns. Megan is passionate about helping others and prides herself in her trauma-informed, person-centered approach to reducing recidivism.

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Donna Duschen

Coach and Motivational Speaker | Second Ascent LLC

Purposed and determined, Donna takes pride in speaking on self empowerment with her commitment to serve others.  Turning 16yrs old in a maximum security prison with a 50 year sentence was a reality check that sent her into a "Flight or Fight" mode.  Committing to her education was a priority and trusting God will carry her through the years of the unknown.  After obtaining her High School Diploma, she enrolled for Business Administration through Branell College and received her Data Entry Diploma then further pursued multiple Vocational Courses to continue her growth. 

Upon her release in 2005 she jumped right into the Fitness Industry as a Certified Personal Trainer with a passion to change lives.  Her career soon after, quickly rose to the Corporate world of the Fitness business.  After 18yrs of sharing her passion in Fitness, she gave up the C Suite to step into her "Purpose".  In the process of completing her first book "Little Girl Lost" she is also doing Motivational Speaking with the Department of Juvenile Justice Hendry County and the Hanley Foundation West Palm Beach.

Being in a Leadership position for years and focusing on the success of her Team, she now is dedicating her life to At Risk Youth Prevention Programs and Adult Reentry Support and Education.  Her mission is to save one life at a time with our At risk kids and give hope to those reentering society and providing them the support and tools to succeed.  By partnering with the available resources, she believes that together we can accomplish this mission.

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Dr. Sondra J. Fogel, LCSW

Associate Professor, Chair, PhD Program | University of South Florida, School of Social Work

Dr. Sondra J. Fogel is an associate professor and chair of the Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida School of Social Work. Dr. Fogel’s research interests are focused on homelessness and vulnerable populations; including returning citizens, social work education, and capital punishment. A focus throughout her work is on understanding and examining the lived experiences of those populations who experience physical and personal trauma and hardships related to the lack of access to key social determinates of health.

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Richard Glau, Th.M.

Manager of Faith-Based Services | The GEO Group

Richard Glau came to The GEO Group, Inc. in 2015 as “Manager, Faith Based Services”, after 11 years with the Florida Department of Corrections. He first served as an institutional staff Chaplain, then Senior Chaplain, and completed his ministry with the FDOC as a Regional Chaplain. Creating maximum synergy between the typical Chaplaincy job description and the current DOC emphasis on re-entry initiatives is the primary focus of his efforts. Contributing to the seamless integration of the incarcerated back to their neighborhoods is the goal.

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Dr. Jessica M. Grosholz

Associate Professor and Campus Chair & Director of MA in CJ | University of South Florida, Department of Criminology

Jessica M. Grosholz, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of South Florida. She received her B.A (2004) in Sociology from Bucknell University, her M.A. (2006) in Sociology from George Washington University, and her Ph.D. (2014) in Sociology from Emory University. Her research centers on carceral studies, particularly in the areas of prison and reentry programming, recidivism, and health. She is also a qualitative methodologist. Her work has been published in significant outlets such as Crime & Delinquency, Criminal Justice & Behavior, Feminist Criminology, Health & Justice, Journal of Criminal Justice, and Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

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Britani Holland, MSW, LCSW

Ph.D. Student | University of South Florida, School of Social Work

Britani Holland is a PhD student at the University of South Florida School of Social Work. Britani's research interests are focused on stigma related to mental illness and childhood maltreatment, the consequences of trauma and adverse experiences, and support for reentry services for formerly justice-involved individuals with a history of adverse childhood experiences. She owns a private practice implementing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy for individuals with trauma histories.

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Taylor Lacroix, LCSW, LADC-I

Clinical Service Director | Open Sky Community Services

Taylor Lacroix, LCSW, LADC-I is the Clinical Service Director of Community Services at Open Sky Community Services in Worcester, MA.  In this role, she oversees 24 community-based programs assisting over 2,000 individuals and families experiencing justice involvement, homelessness, substance use and mental health disorders, and other social determinants of health needs.  Taylor was a leader in the development of the Behavioral Health for Justice Involved pilot program with MassHealth and Trial Courts in 2019 which now has statewide contracts and Medicaid benefit coverage (CSP-JI).  During Spring 2020, she helped lead the "Outreach Connect Refer" model to support incarcerated individuals being released during the uptick of COVID-19.  Most recently, Taylor has been a leader in the development and implementation of the state's first Department of Correction funded after incarceration support service, Community Compass at Open Sky. She has been working for non-profit human service agencies in the community, incarcerated settings, and residential settings since 2013.  In 2022, Taylor was recognized as 40 Under Forty by Worcester Business Journal.

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Jessica Rich, M.S.

Senior Research Analyst | The GEO Group

Jessica Rich is the Senior Research Analyst at the GEO Group, pursuing a Ph.D. at Florida International University. She earned her M.S. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Florida State University. Her areas of interest include the aging prison population, programming and rehabilitation, and community reintegration. Her current research focuses on the role of prison visitation for older individuals who are incarcerated.

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Dr. Elvis Sevilla

Lead Department of Justice Consultant | Midwest Evaluation & Research LLC

Dr. Elvis Sevilla earned his PhD in criminal justice with an emphasis in behavioral science from Nova Southeastern University. He completed his Master of Arts in criminology from the University of Houston–Clear Lake and his Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University. Dr. Sevilla serves as the Department of Justice (DOJ) team lead at Midwest Evaluation and Research (MER), where he oversees all projects involving adult reentry in the field of Second Chance Act (SCA) grants and other criminal justice reentry evaluation projects. Before working with MER, Elvis worked as a former Correctional Officer at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, bilingual case manager, and independent consultant in various areas of immigration contracted with the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Refugee and Resettlement.

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Dr. Ryan Spohn

Director | Nebraska Center for Justice Research | University of Nebraska-Omaha

Ryan Spohn, PhD, is the Director of the Nebraska Center of Justice Research (NCJR) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he performs research and evaluation activities targeted at improving the performance of juvenile justice, criminal justice, and corrections activities. For ten years,  he has served as principal investigator on the evaluation of Nebraska's statewide, multisite Vocational & Life Skills reentry initiative. He has also served on research partner on three reentry grant projects funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.  Dr. Spohn has published in numerous sociology and criminal justice journals, including Criminal Justice and Behavior, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, and Crime & Delinquency. Dr. Spohn has served as both a research partner and a consultant for the BJA. He has a Ph.D. in Sociology/Criminology from the University of Iowa, an MS in Sociology/Criminology from Texas A&M University, and a BS in Sociology/Criminology from Kansas State University. Dr. Spohn is a Fellow of the BJA Innovations Suite Research-Practitioner Academy and a Fellow of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.

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Laura Stanley, B.Sc., NCPS, PRSS, RPSS, I-FPRS

Substance Abuse Counselor/ National Certified Peer Support Specialist | Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office

Laura Stanley celebrates her journey of long-term recovery since November 28, 2016, drawing strength from her personal battles with domestic violence, childhood trauma, the intricacies of the criminal justice system, and the challenges associated with mental health and substance use. Laura's dedication to her growth and helping others is reflected in her attainment of several prestigious certifications: the Recognized Peer Support Specialist Certification through the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health, the IC/RC Peer Recovery Support Specialist Certification through Louisiana Substance Abuse Counselors and Trainers, the National Certified Peer Specialist Credential through The National Certification Board for Behavioral Health Professionals and most recently the Integrated Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist certification with the SAFE Project and Hand2Heart collaborative.

 

Over the past five years, Laura has devoted herself to the role of Peer Support Specialist, offering unwavering support to individuals grappling with mental health and substance use challenges. Her commitment extends to various fronts, including working with a mobile outreach crisis team for the Louisiana State Opioid Response, manning a crisis call line, and providing personalized support to clients and groups within a clinical setting. Laura is a member of the Special Therapies Addiction Treatment Team at Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex in Louisiana, where she continues her passionate work, now focusing on individuals within the correctional system, employing her vast experience and deep empathy to support their journey toward recovery.

 

In her role at Lafourche Parish Correctional Complex, Laura:

  • Ensures that the people she serves have the community resources and social support to re-enter society successfully

  • Serves as a role model, advocate, and motivator to prevent return to use and promotes lifelong recovery from mental health and substance use challenges

  • Facilitates recovery planning, life skills, coping skills, parenting, and substance abuse education classes

  • Provides one-on-one and group peer support sessions to help people identify their goals post-release and assists with treatment planning

 

Laura's academic journey has recently culminated in her graduation Cum Laude from Northwestern State University of Louisiana on December 13, 2023, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a major concentration in substance abuse and a minor in addiction studies, underscoring her passion for dismantling the stigma surrounding substance use and mental health. She is currently pursuing her master’s at Louisiana State University, focusing on Social Work.

 

A highlight of Laura's advocacy work occurred in 2019 when she was honored with a medallion from the Office of National Drug Control Policy by James Carroll in recognition of her courage in sharing her recovery story. Laura lives by the mantra, “Recovery is no longer the exception. It is the expectation!” and actively encourages those facing difficulties to seek the support needed to navigate their challenges. As a proud mother to three beautiful daughters, Laura makes her home in Houma, LA, where she continues to inspire and advocate for change, demonstrating through her life and work that recovery and resilience can flourish even in the most challenging circumstances.

Daniel Williams

Daniel Williams

Project Director | The RIDGE Project

Daniel H. Williams is a devoted Christian leader and Master Facilitator deeply committed to guiding individuals towards personal growth and transformation through the lens of faith. As a Certified John Maxwell speaker, trainer, and coach, he empowers others with impactful insights and practical wisdom. His role as a Project Director for the RIDGE Project reflects his dedication to fostering positive change within communities.

 

Furthermore, Daniel serves as the Chairperson of the Early Head Start Governance Committee, advocating tirelessly for the educational welfare of children. Beyond his professional endeavors, he treasures his role as a devoted husband and loving father of four, recognizing the immense value of family.

 

Daniel’s journey includes overcoming challenges, including a period of formal incarceration This experience has become a catalyst for his passionate commitment to help others navigate similar struggles, inspiring hope, resilience, and a deeper spiritual connection. Through his faith-driven leadership and personal story of redemption, he continues to empower individuals to discover their potential and purpose in life.

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Sergeant Latifa Williams

Assistant Director of Programming | Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office

Sergeant Latifa Williams began her career with the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office in Thibodaux, Louisiana 9 years ago. In late 2015, she began working at the Lafourche Parish Detention Center as a Corrections Officer. She has since worked in many capacities within the Corrections Department, including serving on the Correctional Complex's transition team assisting with building new policies and procedures. Her primary focus on the team was corrections training. This led to her role as the Corrections Training Manager beginning in 2018, responsible for the building, tracking and reporting of all correctional training. In 2019, she was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and served as a shift supervisor directly responsible for booking and intake procedures. In 2020, she transitioned to a program facilitator on the Correctional Complex’s Reentry Team where she taught rehabilitation courses and reentry methods to the facility’s offender population. Additionally, Sgt. Williams aids in maintaining the Correctional Complex’s ACA accreditation through her work with the accreditation team.

Most recently, she was promoted to serve as the Assistant Director of Programming, where she co-heads the Southeast Central Louisiana Regional Reentry Team and the Lafourche Parish Day Reporting Center that covers rehabilitation and reentry from initial incarceration to community supervision reaching 7 parishes in the southern-most part of Louisiana. In her free time, Sgt. Williams enjoys building and presenting workshops sharing about reentry; she has presented at the American Correctional Association Conferences in 2021 and 2024, the Louisiana Correctional Association Conference in 2023, as well as, the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association Conference in 2024. Sgt. Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Degree earned from Nicholls State University in 2021 and is set to begin her Clinical Mental Health and Addiction Counseling Master’s Program in August of 2024.

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