Speakers

Keynote Speakers

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SaulPaul

Musician with a Message

SaulPaul is a GRAMMY Nominated Musician with a Message. He has had 2 #1 Songs on Sirius XM as well as a Top 5 & Top 15 album on iTunes. He has also presented 3 TEDx Talks, performed at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and been featured on America’s Got Talent. His life story of transitioning from tragedy to triumph has been told on screen via the documentary Tower to Tower as well as via his memoir Be The Change. Most recently, SaulPaul founded Change Water, a beverage company that donates to the local community with each case of water sold. Whether via art, entrepreneurship or community service, SaulPaul is committed to #BeTheChange.

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Stephanie Taylor-Silva

Field Director - Prison Fellowship  Idaho & Montana

Stephanie Taylor-Silva is a 38-year-old resident of Idaho Falls, Idaho. She is in long term recovery and a formerly incarcerated person. Stephanie earned full pardons from both Idaho and Montana in 2017. She graduated from Idaho State University with degrees in Sociology and Criminology and is currently a student at Northwest Nazarene University pursing her MSW. Stephanie is a former Reentry Specialist for the Idaho Department of Correction District 7 Probation and Parole office and is now a Field Director with Prison Fellowship. She is also a Certified Peer Support Specialist, Certified Family Support Partner and Recovery Coach. She is a graduate of the Idaho Citizens Law Academy. Stephanie is an elected board member for Community Suicide Prevention, Center for Hope, Behavioral Health Crisis Center and Region Seven Behavioral Health board and a council member for the Idaho State Rehabilitation Council. Stephanie has received both state and national awards for her dedication to reentry and criminal justice reform. She is passionate about corrections, criminal justice, reentry, recovery, suicide prevention and anti-human trafficking efforts. 

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David L. Garlock

Faith, Community and Legislative Advocate with Straight Ahead

David L. Garlock is a successful returning citizen, reentry professional, and criminal justice reform advocate who is currently the Faith, Community and Legislative Advocate for Straight Ahead.  David enjoys educating the next generation of criminal justice professionals on rehabilitation and advocating in various spheres for an effective and equitable justice system. He is a writer, author and poet who shares his story in many written forms. He is a frequent speaker at colleges and universities, criminal and social justice conferences, and community events, and he appeared in the film Just Mercy (2020). He also did a TEDx at Arcadia University in April 2022.

Speakers

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Ricky Aiken

Founder and Executive Director | Inner City Innovators

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Reality Allah

Reentry Coordinator | READI Chicago Heartland Alliance

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Dr. Cassandra Atkin-Plunk

Associate Professor and Associate Director | Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Cassandra Atkin-Plunk is an Associate Professor and the Associate Director in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University. Her research interests span both institutional and community corrections with an emphasis on contemporary issues in corrections, including the reentry and reintegration of individuals returning to the community from incarceration. Dr. Atkin-Plunk examines evidence-based practices and conducts program and policy evaluations to identify what works in corrections. She is the recipient of over $800,000 in external funding and has been the principal investigator (PI) or co-PI in the evaluation of programs and policies for a variety of agencies, including the Florida Department of Corrections, Palm Beach County (FL) Criminal Justice Commission, Palm Beach County Public Safety Department, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, The GEO Group, and The Lord’s Place. As evidenced, Dr. Atkin-Plunk’s research is largely community-based, and she won the 2018 FAU Presidential Award for Outstanding Community-Engaged Research. Her research has been published in Justice Quarterly, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Journal of Criminal Justice, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Criminal Justice Policy Review, and Journal of Offender Rehabilitation.

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Amy Barch

Founder and Executive Director | Turn90

Amy Barch is the Founder and Executive Director of Turn90. In 2012, Amy founded Turn90, a nonprofit with the mission to help men succeed after prison. Prison reentry became her life’s passion after an internship in a local jail helping incarcerated individuals earn their GED. Turn90 has received national attention for its innovative, therapeutic, and evidence-based approach to reentry. Turn90 has two locations in Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina. Amy has a Bachelor’s in Law, Societies and Justice from the University of Washington and is currently earning a Master’s in Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. She has called Charleston her home since 2010.

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Melissa Black

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Bio

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Dr. Jennifer L. Brinkley

Assistant Professor | University of West Florida

Dr. Jennifer L. Brinkley is an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the University of West Florida and a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  She is a certified Inside-Out instructor and has run a Reading Writing Group at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution since 2020.  She has been published in various journals, including the Kentucky Law Journal, Northern Illinois University Law Review, South Carolina Law Review, Quinnipiac Law Review, Lincoln Memorial University Law Review, Kentucky Bench & Bar, The Legal Educator, and Legal Writing: Journal of Legal Writing Institute.

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Tony Britten

Reentry Program Manager | Nebraska Department of Correctional

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Christal Carmichael

Director of Youth Development | Communities In Schools of North Carolina

Passionate about Juvenile Justice, leadership and mental health.  Christal was appointed by the Board of Commissioners to serve on the Juvenile Council for Crime Prevention and was selected to serve on the Executive Board. She was also selected by Communities in Schools of North Carolina, one of the leading nonprofit organizations in the nation, to serve as director of youth development for ReEntry to Resilience, a program that seamlessly and successfully transitions at-risk youth from confinement back to their communities. Christal was selected by the National Council of Negro Women as the 2020 Woman of Excellence for her leadership in the community and is a 2021 recipient of the 40 under 40 award. Christal graduated with honors with her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Master's degree in Clinical Psychology from North Carolina Central University. During her undergraduate years, she served as Miss Freshman, Miss Psychology and reigned as Miss North Carolina Central University. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at Arizona State University. Christal Carmichael has demonstrated her passion for youth from a very young age. Her productive career as a therapist, professor and mentor has given her the opportunity to share her knowledge all over the country.  Her vision and leadership are remarkable, and her accomplishments have been transformative. She has been and continues to be a noteworthy role model, change agent, and advocate of many. She and her husband of 10 years have three beautiful children. She enjoys reading, traveling and “all things fun” with her family.

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Dr. Wendy Cavendish

Professor | University of Miami

Dr. Wendy Cavendish is a Professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami. Her interdisciplinary research focus includes the examination of the relationship between institutional processes involved in educational and transition decision making for diverse youth. Her recent work includes the use of an equity-focused, intersectionality-based policy analysis framework for research on the practices and processes in schools and other social institutions (e.g., criminal justice system) that facilitate successful transition of special education, juvenile-justice involved, and foster care youth. She has published over 60 articles and research and policy reports on these topics.

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Barbara Cheives

President and CEO | Converge & Associates Consulting, Inc.

Barbara Cheives is the President and CEO of Converge & Associates Consulting.  Converge specializes in race and ethnic relations consulting, employee relations and community engagement.  Converge has developed a training niche in Equity & Inclusion; Cultural Competency; Implicit Bias; Racial Equity; and Respectful Communication in the Workplace. Their client base includes government entities; law enforcement and public safety; not for profit organizations; media; education; and corporations.

Barbara served as the first Executive Director of Toward A More Perfect Union in Palm Beach County, Florida - a non-profit initiative addressing the critical impact of race and ethnicity in a diverse community. Among the organizations that Barbara has provided training for are International Speedway Corporation; Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office; Palm Beach County and Broward County Children’s Services Councils; Florida Department of Juvenile Justice; The City of West Palm Beach; Planned Parenthoods of Palm Beach and the Treasure Coast, plus numerous municipalities, and non-profit organizations. She has also designed and delivered workshops around youth violence prevention; Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC), and the portrayal of minorities in the media.

Barbara's community appointments include the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission where she is a past chair. She served on West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio’s Transition Team where she chaired Neighborhood Improvement and Community Outreach.  She was also appointed as a Commissioner to the statewide 2007 Blueprint Commission for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

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Dr. Carmen Colquitt-Turks

Reentry Supervisor | Davidson County (Nashville, TN) Sheriff’s Office

Dr. Carmen Colquitt-Turks grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and received her early education in the Knox County School System. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Tennessee State University, a Master of Public Service Management from Cumberland University, and a Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Trevecca University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Criminal Justice from Walden University.

In 1994, Dr. Turks began a career at the Nashville Sheriff’s Office were she is currently employed a Program Manager (Reentry). At the Sheriff’s office she has worked in many roles, Transitional Specialist (career track), Case Manager, Culinary Arts Coordinator, Gang Intelligence Officer, Substance Abuse Counselor, and a member of the Special Operation Response Team (S.O.R.T.). Dr. Turks was an adjunct faculty member in the Criminal Justice Department at Tennessee State University. She is a Desert Storm Veteran in the United States Army Reserves.

She is married to Col. Harold E. Turks, and they have two sons Harold Jr. and Jordan.

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Dr. Lucius Couloute

Assistant Professor | Suffolk University

Dr. Lucius Couloute is an Assistant Professor of Sociology & Criminal Justice at Suffolk University and the co-investigator for Just Income GNV. He came to Suffolk University in the summer of 2019. Previously, he worked as a policy analyst with the Prison Policy Initiative where he produced policy reports using Bureau of Justice Statistics data and advocated for criminal justice reform.

 

Dr. Couloute’s primary research interests involve the practices, processes, and impacts of criminalization. His current research investigates the structural barriers and cultural ideas that permeate a northeastern prisoner reentry system. Dr. Couloute’s work also examines how organizations produce, mediate, or experience systems of inequality.

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Natalie Crespo

Chief Operating Officer | Rebel Recovery Florida

Natalie Crespo serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Rebel Recovery FL and has directed Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) since inception with the Care Coordinator and Peer Navigator.  Natalie also is the Housing Quality Standards Inspector for the agency. Her experience is emphasized in business management & administration, construction management, property management & maintenance, code enforcement, vocational training & management of day services for individuals with SPMI & ID, public housing & section 8 including tenant and landlord law. This experience has aided Rebel Recovery in providing exemplary services to the participants served in the community. Natalie is a rare local of south Florida who defends her beliefs and advocates for her clients in any setting. Her upbringing paired with her cultural background has supported her efforts and drive to assist those in need within the diverse environment we call home here in Palm Beach County. 

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Dr. Sondra Fogel

Associate Professor | University of South Florida

Dr. Sondra Fogel is an associate professor and chair of the PHD program at the University of South Florida School of Social Work. Dr. Fogel’s research interests are focused on homelessness and vulnerable populations with special attention to housing and other social determinates of health, forensic social work issues, including capital punishment, and social work education. Her research is published in numerous interdisciplinary journals. Dr. Fogel received her MSW from Columbia University and her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Amlak-I Foley

Returned Resident & Post-Release Case Manager | The GEO Group

Amlak-I Foley’s life took a tumultuous turn on January 23, 1998 when he was arrested. An arrest that resulted in a 21-year prison sentence to be served in over ten different prisons, which included a 38-month term of 24-hour lockdown in a single man cell.  Where many would say it was a list of crimes which sent him to prison to endure these conditions, he’s compelled to believe that it was bad decisions which sent him to prison. It was from this understanding that he began changing his way of thinking, in turn changing his behavior and ultimately changing his life. These mental transformations, along with his passion to help others, placed him in a position to assist in changing the behaviors and lives of others through peer-mentorship. He served as a Substance Abuse facilitator, created two curriculums while facilitating them and even served in the capacity as peer orientation coordinator for new arrivals while incarcerated.  As ironic as it may sound, going to prison was the main catalyst to his path of success.

It was behind the walls of societal seclusion where he would pour himself into the time and effort of turning his cell into a college dormitory. It was there in his cell intended for his incarceration where he would find his liberation. He would block out time slots where he would study collegiate unabridged textbooks in an autodidact fashion, which ultimately led to him enrolling in Miami Dade College. However, upon his release he would go on to enroll in Broward College to begin his journey of acquiring his international human rights law degree where he plans to fight against global injustices.

To name a few of his achievements: he has mentored in over 15 schools, lectured at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) and Broward College, served as an advisor to the Palm Beach Reentry Task Force, facilitated a professional development course on student-teacher connectivity for the Palm Beach County School District, met with 5 State Senators to discuss prison reform.  He now serves as a post-release case manager for the GEO Group.

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Angela Geisinger, M.Ed.

Senior Director of Programs | The GEO Group

Ms. Angela Geisinger, M.Ed., CCE serves as the Sr. Director of Programs for The GEO Group. Angela is a survivor of domestic violence and has dedicated her life to creating and implementing programs that promote and enable change. Over her 23 years of service working with incarcerated juvenile and adult offenders she has worked to heal, inspire and educate through quality programming.

Angela’s career has been diverse as she has worked in the field of corrections at non-profit, public, and private sector employers. She promotes operational excellence in her daily operation of working with facilities and the development of a full continuum of care for those served. Angela began her career in corrections as a substance abuse counselor, and worked her way through the ranks, each time holding positions of increased responsibility, including, Learning & Development Manager with Core Civics, Pataula Circuit Director with South West Key and Program Director, Graceville Correctional Facility.

Angela Geisinger joined the GEO Group Continuum of Care Division in December of 2014 as the Director of Academic and Vocational Programs.  Angela was instrumental in the development of the GEO Learning Model in 2015. In 2018 Angela was promoted to Senior Director of Programs. She oversees Academic, Vocational, Substance Abuse Treatment, Faith & Character services as well as the Alumni/Peer mentoring division.

Angela graduated from Valdosta State University, Langdale College of Business, and received her M.Ed. in Foundations of Education from Troy University.

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Nikki Girard

Program Manager | Intel Corporation

Nikki Girard is a strategic, innovative, and collaborative servant-leader helping to create world-changing technology as a Program Manager at Intel Corporation. 

She's been recognized for holding key Program and Project Management positions in the non-profit and social services sector spearheading Social Justice initiatives and preventative interventions for marginalized communities for 8+ years. 

 

Nikki previously helped to drive anti-recidivism efforts at The Lord's Place by coordinating the SCA program and managing the Pilot COSA project.

 

She is extremely passionate about building community, delivering solutions to under-represented groups, and committed to driving business value by cultivating meaningful relationships with stakeholders across organizations. 

 

Nikki holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a concentration in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Florida International University.

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Dr. Jessica M. Grosholz

Associate Professor | University of South Florida

Dr. Jessica M. Grosholz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at USF on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. She is the Sarasota-Manatee Campus Chair, the Director of the 100% online Master's in Criminal Justice Program, and the Sarasota-Manatee Campus Research Administration Faculty Fellow. Dr. Grosholz earned her PhD from Emory University in 2014. Her research focuses on prisoner reentry and recidivism, health and the criminal justice system, and qualitative field research. For the last 20 years, Dr. Grosholz has been a staunch advocate for individuals who are currently incarcerated as well as those who are formerly incarcerated. Dr. Grosholz’s research has been published in outlets such as Journal of Criminal Justice, Youth & Society, Criminal Justice & Behavior, Health & Justice, Social Science and Medicine, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, and Deviant Behavior.

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Dr. Wendy P. Guastaferro

Professor and Director | Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Wendy P. Guastaferro is the Director and Associate Professor in the School of Criminology & Criminal Justice and Associate Dean of Research with the College of Design & Social Inquiry. Dr. Guastaferro’s research centers on effective behavioral health (primarily substance abuse and mental health) treatments and policies within community, jail, and prison settings. Dr. Guastaferro’s current project is a quasi-experimental study looking at the effect of implementing parenting, trauma-care services, and a program of pro-social leisure activities focused on community and family oriented events (called the Social Recovery Initiative (SRI)) to an adult felony-level drug court and a family (drug) treatment court. Dr. Guastaferro is the co-PI on this study funded by the US HHS Administration for Children and Families 5-year, $4.9 million grant. Her latest research examines how well current treatment services meet the criminogenic and substance abuse treatment needs of participants in drug courts and the impact of peer support for women with opioid use disorder. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Offender Treatment and Comparative Criminology, Journal of Drug Issues, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, and the American Journal of Public Health. Dr. Guastaferro teaches courses in criminal justice policy, health and justice, courts, and program evaluation.

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James Haskell

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Carey Haughwout

Public Defender | Palm Beach County

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Dr. Heather Howard

Associate Professor | Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Heather Howard research and clinical expertise focus on gender-specific and trauma-informed care for women that reduces stigma and encourages health empowerment. She has been awarded several local and national foundation grants for clinical research involving women’s health issues, such as substance use disorders and trauma. Prior to her current, tenured position at Florida Atlantic University, she was a perinatal social worker specializing in perinatal mental health and maternal substance use for more than 20 years. Her recent peer-reviewed publications focus on factors associated with adherence to standard of care and the use of shared decision making with pregnant women presenting with opioid use disorder. These publications emphasize the importance of decreasing stigma for perinatal women who are opioid dependent, and utilizing interprofessional approaches involving physicians, clinical social workers, and health educators, focusing primarily on health disparities and public health responses to maternal substance use. She is active in the peer recovery community in South Florida, and she developed the trauma-informed care-learning module for the Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Initiative. Her most recent community-based participatory study with mothers impacted by substance use and the child welfare system demonstrated the importance of family preservation and support due to the traumatic experience of infant removal.

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Christopher Howell

Treatment Counselor | Hillsborough County (Tampa, FL) Sheriff’s Office

Christopher Howell is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a Master's Degree in Sociology and has been a Treatment Counselor for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for over 21 years. He began his career in the helping profession working with children who had been physically, sexually, and emotionally abused. After arriving at the Sheriff's Office, he created and facilitated a parenting program for adults and currently facilitates a 30 day drug treatment class for the In Jail Substance Abuse Program. He has also facilitated groups with juveniles facing adult charges, with a specific focus on teen parenting and victim impact. In 2009, Mr. Howell joined a local collaborative called Children of Hillsborough County Incarcerated Parents (CHIPs). As a core member and Chairperson of CHIPs, he was a part of the strategic planning committee and served as the keynote speaker for the 2013 CHIPs Symposium on Attachment Disorder and Generational Incarceration. In 2014, he conducted a School Age Trauma and Parental Incarceration Training for Hillsborough County School District psychologists, guidance counselors, and school social workers. Mr. Howell will be speaking today about how Jail Re-Entry can provide holistic programs to effect change.

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Dr. Lolita Johnson

Lead S.O.A.R Counselor | Davidson County (Nashville, TN) Sheriff’s Office

Dr. Lolita Johnson is one of the Lead Counselors with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office (D.C.S.O), SSI/SSDI, Outreach, Access and Recovery (S.O.A.R.) program. Dr. Johnson has worked with D.C.S.O since 2004 and has been with the SOAR program for the last 6 years. Dr. Johnson’s 17+ years with D.C.S.O. has been very rewarding to her because she has worked in several capacities while at D.C.S.O. Dr. Johnson has worked with the state certified batterers’ intervention program, Sheriffs Anti Violence Effort (S.A.V.E), New Avenues Substance Abuse Treatment program as an Orientation Counselor and has also served as a Re-Entry Specialist. Dr. Johnson is also certified by the American Corrections Association (ACA) as a Correctional Behavioral Health (CBHC) professional. Dr. Johnson was also an adjunct faculty member in the Criminal Justice Department at Tennessee State University for 5 years. 

Dr. Johnson is a native of Nashville, TN and is very passionate about the work that she does. In Dr. Johnson’s spare time she loves to spend time with her family.  Dr. Johnson has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science w/a minor in Sociology from Maryville College and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Kaplan University and just completed her Doctorate Degree, Doctor of Education in Leadership and Professional Practice, from Trevecca Nazarene University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Criminal Justice from Walden University.

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Vanessa Klein

Director of Reentry Services | The Lord’s Place

Vanessa Klein is the Director of Reentry Services at The Lord's Place where she currently oversees both pre and post-release reentry services programs , including coordination of the day-to-day responsibilities associated with operating both programs, and providing leadership and supervision to program staff. Vanessa has close to a decade of experience working with local not for profit social service agencies where her focus has been in the area’s of preventing chronic homelessness and providing innovative reentry services. She is a certified group facilitator in the University of Cincinnati’s Moral Recognition Therapy (MRT). She is also a trainer in the Level of Service Inventory – Revised (LSI-R) Assessment. Vanessa holds a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida.

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Monta Knudson

CEO/Executive Director | Bridges to Change

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Judge Timothy Kuhlman

Toledo Municipal Court

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Nichole Landrum

Statewide Reentry Administrator | Florida Department of Corrections

Nichole Landrum began her career with the Florida Department of Corrections in 1995.  Throughout the past 27 years she has held positions of increasing responsibility and authority.  She has more than 10 years of experience working with reentry initiatives, to include serving as the Classification Supervisor during the opening of Gadsden Re-Entry Center and Assistant Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Re-Entry and Education, where apprenticeship programs were introduced to facilities, several veterans’ dorms were created, and the management of the 100 Hour Transition program and Re-Entry Seminars were under her direction. 

 

Nichole currently is the Statewide Re-Entry Administrator where she is leading the efforts to establish programming and restorative connections the FDC’s Short Sentence Correctional Institutions (SSCI).  Additionally, she oversees the Mentor Academy selection process, Roadmap to Restoration efforts throughout the state, the oversight, and operations of the statewide Volunteer Services program, monitoring of the reentry seminars statewide, and providing training to staff, volunteers, and stakeholders.  She also participates in several local reentry coalition/taskforce meetings.

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Kayla Larkin

Instructor & PhD student | University of Miami

Kayla Larkin is a Special Education PhD student at the University of Miami in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Her research interests include the overrepresentation of students with disabilities in the school to prison pipeline, the experiences of incarcerated students with disabilities, and teacher bias and the experiences of Black student-athletes at predominantly white institutions. As a doctoral student, Kayla serves as an undergraduate instructor to student-athletes and as the graduate coordinator to Inspire U Academy, a mentoring program for first generation students.

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Jill Levenson, PhD, LCSW

Professor | Barry University

Jill Levenson, PhD, LCSW, has been working in the re-entry field for 35 years in South Florida as a professor, researcher, and treatment provider. She uses a scientist-practitioner model to inform her trauma-informed research and clinical work with survivors, offenders, and families impacted by sexual harm. Dr. Levenson is one of the world's leading experts in treatment, policy, and re-entry for people convicted of sexual crimes, and she studies the impact and effectiveness of sex offense registries. She has published over 125 articles and six books, and her research includes projects funded by the National Institutes of Justice, the CDC, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. She has conducted Trauma-informed Care Trainings in clinical, forensic, and correctional settings in over 20 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Australia. In 2019 she was the recipient of ATSA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and was named by the Journal of Social Science Research as among the top 100 Social Work Scholars in North America. 

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Tara Libert

Co-founder and Executive Director | Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop

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Mahlia Lindquist

Executive Director | Ladies Empowerment & Action Program

Mahlia Lindquist is the Executive Director of Ladies Empowerment and Action Program (LEAP), a re-entry program for women who have experienced incarceration. She brings her advocacy skills from years of practicing law to fight on behalf of the marginalized women she serves through LEAP. As a former prosecutor in Miami-Dade, she saw first hand how the justice system is stacked against vulnerable women and vowed to foster change and bring hope to justice-involved women. Under Ms. Lindquist’s leadership, LEAP has evolved from  a small non-profit providing services to women in prison, to being recognized as a leader in the women’s re-entry space.  Since taking the helm at LEAP 5 years ago, her vision of providing housing, wraparound services, trauma-informed therapy, even a retail business to provide jobs and job training have all been realized. Mahlia has a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University and a BA in economics from Emory University.

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Lazaro Lopez

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Dr. Richard Louis

Manager, Bachelor of Applied Science Student Support | Broward College

Dr. Richard Louis is the Manager of BAS (Bachelor of Applied Science) Student Support Services for the Supervision & Management Program at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Richard received his Bachelor of Science (Athletic Administration) from St. John’s University in Queens, New York, Master of Arts (Sports Administration) from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, Master of Business Administration (Human Resources) and Doctor of Education (Organizational Leadership) from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As a returning citizen himself, Richard was inspired to chronicle his reentry experiences in combination with his academic studies to optimize a research framework within his doctoral dissertation. His doctoral dissertation was titled “The Relationship Between Recidivism Rates and Post-Release Employment”, which sought to highlight the importance of education and sustainable employment/entrepreneurship for returning citizens as part of their overall reentry journey.

 

In his prior professional experience, Richard has worked for The Fortune Society in New York as a Family Services Specialist in which his job was to assist single fathers who were formerly incarcerated, successfully reintegrate into mainstream society which included being reunited with their children and building a new and fulfilling post-incarceration life.

 

In addition to his current professional role at Broward College, Richard is also an Adjunct Professor at Broward College and Miami-Dade College where he teaches courses such as Training & Development, Applied Concepts in Human Resources, Introduction to Speech Communications, and Speaking for Professionals. Richard is also a member of The African American Advisory Council of the City of Hollywood (FL) and is active in numerous nationwide criminal justice reform/reentry initiatives, and in addition is the Founder & President of Second Chance Coaching, LLC which is a consulting firm designed to assist returning citizens with re-integrating into the workplace, pursuing higher education, optimize entrepreneurial opportunities as well as provide organizational culture coaching, leadership, and professional development for organizations/higher education institutions to provide successful recruitment and retention of returning citizens as well as for the entire workforce/student body. Richard is also the host of the podcast “Second Chance Coaching with Dr. Richard Louis” which can be found on iTunes, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, and Amazon Music.

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Thomas Luettke

Reentry Coordinator | Criminal Justice Coordinating Council

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Dr. Cristina Lucier

Vice President of Community Programs | The Lord’s Place

Dr. Cristina Lucier is the Vice President of Community Programs at The Lord's Place, where she oversees several departments including Street Outreach and Engagement, Women's Services, Employment Services, Reentry Services, Clinical Services and Compliance.  In 2016 she began working at The Lord's Place, a social impact agency aimed at breaking the cycle of homelessness in Palm Beach County.  She received a Ph.D. in Sociology from Boston College in 2014, and has published extensively in peer-reviewed social science journals, touching on topics such as social inequality, environmental pollution and its effects on economically disenfranchised communities, and the impact of regulations on the health status of the poor and minorities. She is an expert in qualitative and quantitative program evaluation, data analysis, contract administration, data management, quality assurance, strategic planning, and program budget oversight. Cristina is also a graduate of Leadership Palm Beach County, Class of 2021. 

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Dr. Heather Lyall

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Dr. Heather Lyall has a Doctorate in Business specializing in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and is also a Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources through SHRM and has spent the last 8 years working with second-chance hires and those in recovery in the construction industry as a Virginia licensed contractor. Dr. Lyall has just recently published her first book, "Those Kind of People" which discusses how business owners can hire, motivate, and retain individuals in second-chance situations.

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Sophia Manuel

Senior Program Manager | READI Chicago Heartland Alliance

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Holly Matthews

Executive Director | Criminal Justice Coordinating Council

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Nancy McConnell

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder | Rebel Recovery Florida

Nancy McConnell, MSW, MCAP, CRPS, is the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rebel Recovery FL. In this role, Nancy has been on the forefront of creating hybrid organizations that combine the values of harm reduction, syringe service programs, and increasing access to peer support services through recovery community organizations. Her passion is reducing stigma and barriers for returning citizens and expanding incarceration alternative programs and is a devoted advocate for sex-workers and members of the LGBTQI community. Nancy is an MSW, Certified Master’s Level Addiction Professional, (MCAP), Certified Recovery Peer Support, (CRPS), and is currently completing her Master’s in Nonprofit Management. She also is an advanced level facilitator of evidence-based practices such as Wellness Recovery Action Plans, (WRAP), Whole Health Action Management, (WHAM), and Motivational Interviewing. Nancy is a founding board member of Fl Harm Reduction Collective and serves as president and chair, a board member of Floridians for Recovery and the Florida Certification Board Behavioral Health Advisory Board. 

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Robert S. Melgaard

Statewide Career and Technical Education Administrator | Florida Department of Corrections

Robert S. Melgaard is a results-oriented Career and Technical Education administrative professional skilled in teaching, presenting to peers and stakeholders, training other professionals, project management, and networking to build lasting, professional relationships to enhance all students’ outcomes and employability.

Mr. Melgaard serves as the Career & Technical Education Programs Administrator for the Florida Department of Corrections, responsible for the management and operation of the Department’s over 100 Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs.

Prior to his current role, Mr. Melgaard began his career with the Florida Department of Corrections as a CTE Masonry Instructor before being promoted to Regional CTE Coordinator. Additionally, Melgaard served as an adjunct instructor at Tallahassee Community College, where he taught masonry apprenticeship classes.

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Dhiny Mercedes

Reentry Department Manager | CareerSource Palm Beach County

Bio

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Christina Mitchell

Care Coordinator | Rebel Recovery Florida

Christina Mitchell is the Care Coordinator for the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) at Rebel Recovery FL and is also a Certified Recovery Peer Specialist. She has been employed at Rebel Recovery FL for over 4 years. In addition to her work as a CRPS-A and Care Coordinator, she is certified to facilitate Motivational Interviewing and Mental Health First Aid trainings. Christina is currently attending Palm Beach State College and will be graduating with an Associate’s Degree in the fall. Christina has lived experience with being unhoused and living with a substance use disorder. She uses these experiences to not only inspire her participants, but to empathize and assist in overcoming the barriers they face on their recovery journey.

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William

Participant | Rebel Recovery Florida

William is a participant of Rebel Recovery FL and has been an incredibly successful participant of the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP). He was incarcerated for over a decade and has overcome several barriers including and not limited to being unhoused, health concerns, multiple outstanding court fees, lack of transportation, all while continuing to progress in his personal recovery. In the time he has been enrolled in COSSAP, William has been able to successfully secure social security benefits, begin payment plans on his outstanding court fees which allowed him to re-instate his license, secure stable independent housing, purchase a vehicle, seek adequate healthcare, and increase his recovery capital month after month. William is an incredible example of how bridging the gap between justice system involvement and re-entry can make an extraordinary impact on the person served. 

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Kasey Moyer

Executive Director | Mental Health Association of Nebraska

Kasey Moyer is the Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Nebraska (MHA-NE) with more than seventeen years of experience in peer operated programs. She proactively assisted in the development, implementation and directing of peer operated programs within traditional services, diversion services and within the criminal justice system. The goal, to enhance the quality of life of individuals who are living with mental health and or substance use challenges, many of whom have been incarcerated or at risk for higher levels of care. The MHA-NE currently employs 30 Peer Specialist and is the largest peer provider in Nebraska. They currently operate two peer-run respite houses, a peer operated supported employment program, a peer outreach program partnering with the Lincoln Police Department, comprehensive peer benefits program and peer re-entry program within the Department of Corrections, parole, probation and the county jail.

 

She is currently an appointed member of the Long-Term Restricted Housing Workgroup 2015 and the Re-Entry Advisory Group.

 

She has worked as a vocational rehabilitation professional with more than eight years of experience in job coaching, task analysis, completing assessments and intakes. She also provided vocational rehabilitation plans to the Workers' Compensation Court. She has a proven record of success communicating and interacting with program participants, community providers, family members, and policy makers.

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Oswald Newbold

Returned Resident & Case Manager | The Reentry Center of Riviera Beach

Oswald Newbold was arrested for attempted murder, aggravated battery, and armed burglary at the age of 19, and while a sophomore in college. At age 20, he was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment plus 15 years inside the Florida Department of Corrections. He won a postconviction motion that resulted into the overall sentence being reduced to 55-years in prison. The 55-year sentence took a total of 25-years, 1-month, and 13-days to complete with earning gain time for good behavior. In 2017, at age 44, Oswald was released from confinement with a reentry plan and a good understanding of his life purpose. Today, Oswald’s lived experiences inspire the work he does as a reentry case manager, peer mentor, motivational speaker, and social justice advocate. Oswald works for local government, owns a business, and is the founder of a nonprofit organization.

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Tyrina Pinkney

Director of Clinical Services | The Lord’s Place

Bio

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Clark Porter

Returned Resident and Program Support Specialist | United States Probation Office Eastern District

Clark Porter is a former offender who spent most of his adult life in the federal prison system for armed robbery. At the age of 4 he was placed in the foster care system due to severe neglect, and experienced multiple placements because of his behavior problems. He later ran away from the foster care system at the age of 15 and began a life of petty crime. He was placed in the Division of Youth Services (DYS) at the age of 16 for 2nd degree assault. Upon his release from DYS, he resumed his criminal career, and began committing street robberies. He grew frustrated with the nickel and dime robberies, so at the age of 17 Clark and an accomplice robbed a downtown post office with a sawed off shotgun. He was subsequently tried and convict of the robbery and sentenced to 35 years in the Bureau of Prisons. While in the Bureau of Prison, Clark was transferred to several maximum security facilities for violent assaults on inmates. When his violent propensity became unmanageable in maximum security facilities, he was placed in a supermax facility in Marion, Illinois, and was later placed in a more secure supermax facility in Florence, Colorado.

 

During his time on 22 hours lockdown, Clark took the time to do a self inventory and reflect on his life. He realized he had not had any breaks in his life, and he needed to give himself one. He became a model prison during his last few years of prison and devised a plan to rebuild his life after he was released from prison. Once Clark was released from prison, he set out to become a productive member in society by working two jobs and attending St. Louis Community College. He completed his Associates of Arts in Human Services, and accepted a scholarship to attend Washington University in St. Louis. Clark obtained his Bachelor of Science in General Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and went on to get his Masters of Social Work from the University of Missouri St. Louis. Clark has worked with various nonprofit organizations since his release, and he is currently a program support specialist with the United States Probation Office Eastern District of Missouri. He work entails him developing and maintaining community resources to assist former offenders with the reintegration process, and working with the Bureau of Prisons reentry programs.

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Raqueal Pullums

Reentry Program Manager | READI Chicago Heartland Alliance

Bio

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Jennifer Rechichi

Assistant Bureau Chief of Program Development | Florida Department of Corrections

Jennifer Rechichi is a solutions-focused professional with an extensive background in the development of risk/needs assessment, program development and program implementation in both the fields of juvenile justice and adult corrections. 

 

Jennifer currently serves as the Assistant Bureau Chief of Program Development, at the Florida Department of Corrections after working nearly 13 years in numerous leadership positions for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. In this role, she is responsible for the training and oversight of the implementation of the Department’s risk/needs assessment instrument, as well as the Program Clearinghouse. 

 

Jennifer holds an M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University and an B.S. in Family, Child and Consumer Sciences, from the Florida State University.  Jennifer’s research interests include training, implementation and fidelity of evidence-based and best practices and risk assessment.

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Jynelle S. Robinson

Statewide Community Transition Administrator | Florida Department of Corrections

Jynelle S. Robinson is an innovative and accomplished program and human resources management professional with a track record of success in human capital strategies, workforce development, operational oversight, quality improvement, labor relations, coaching, and organizational development. She is a collaborative professional, experienced in small, mid, and large-scale project/program management, (including the management of multi-disciplinary teams), and is adept at identifying training and developmental needs through job analysis, appraisal schemes and partnering with leadership.

Currently, Mrs. Robinson is the Statewide Community Transition Administrator for the Florida Department of Corrections, where she is leading an effort to align best practices in reentry to improve employment and other outcomes for those returning from incarceration and reduce recidivism.

 

Previous work assignments have included Project Coordination for the division of workforce development at Tallahassee Community College, Board Staff at CareerSource Capital Region, Director of HR and Administration at Mainline Information Systems, Director of HR and Administration at Disability Rights Florida, and Director of HR and Administration at VISIT FLORIDA.

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Kevin Scott

Director | Just Income GNV

Kevin Scott was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Florida. Kevin is a longtime Gainesville resident with a passion for social justice and community organizing. As a 2020 Community Spring Fellow, Kevin helped found Torchlighters Reentry Support and CS Direct.

 

He is now the Project Director of Just Income GNV, a guaranteed income project by and for formerly incarcerated people. An outspoken advocate for criminal justice issues and prisoner rights, he has been involved with Florida Prisoner Solidarity since 2016. Kevin has been a pivotal voice in several grassroots campaigns leading to policy changes around the use of prison labor. Kevin also gratefully serves as a Guest Ambassador at GRACE Marketplace, a homeless services shelter.

Kevin has been to every state but Hawaii, practices Zen meditation, and is the proud father of one genius daughter and two dumb cats.

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Dr. Risdon N. Slate

Professor | Florida Southern College

Dr. Risdon N. Slate received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, master’s degree from the University of South Carolina, and his Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California. He began teaching at Florida Southern College in 1993.  His recent books are entitled Criminalization of Mental Illness: Crisis and Opportunity for the Justice System and The Decision-Making Network: An Introduction to Criminal Justice. His research interests include the interface of the mental health and justice systems and criminal justice practitioner stress. He has served as a trainer and sought out speaker on these topics with police, probation officers, correctional officers, judges, medical doctors, and psychiatric residents.  He served as a gubernatorial appointee to Florida’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Commission.  Dr. Slate has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on the impact of mental illness on the criminal justice system.  Slate is a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and he has prior work experience as a United States Probation Officer and as assistant to the warden at a medium/maximum, death row, prison. Dr. Slate recently served as an appointee to the Florida Bar Special Committee on Mental Health and is a recipient of the John Howard Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences for his significant contributions to the practice of corrections through scholarship, teaching, policy, and service.  

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Craig Spatara

Director of Post-Release Services | The GEO Group

Craig Spatara serves as the Director of Post-Release Services for The GEO Group where he develops and administers a national reentry program that helps thousands of individuals transition back from incarceration each year.  Craig has facilitated successful relationships between correctional facilities and community-based service providers at the federal, state and local levels.  He established a national network of providers that work collaboratively to eliminate barriers to successful reentry.  Additionally, Craig helped develop an automated reentry case management system that links correctional agencies and community organizations while tracking recidivism, employment and additional reentry outcomes.  He has recently undertaken a project to improve reentry services by developing reentry provider standards. 

Craig Spatara has examined each aspect of the criminal justice system throughout his 27 years in the field and implemented programs that improved processes, data collection and outcomes.  He strongly believes recidivism issues can be solved by focusing on prevention and reentry, the bookends of the system.  He strives to facilitate collaboration between government, the private sector, non-profits and formerly incarcerated individuals to address criminal justice reform. 

 

Craig earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University and has advocated throughout his career for equal opportunity and second chances.

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Alia Spencer

Faculty Librarian | Palm Beach State College

Alia Spencer, MLIS, is currently a faculty librarian at Palm Beach State College.  She earned a Masters in Library and Information Sciences degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Ms. Spencer is a member of the Medical Library Association and Palm Beach County Reentry Taskforce.  Her work explores the positive impact of academic instructions in the development and education of returning residents.

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Diana Stanley

Chief Executive Officer | The Lord’s Place

Diana Stanley has led The Lord’s Place in its mission to end the cycle of homelessness and advocate for those living on the margins of our society for fifteen years. Her enthusiasm has empowered staff to deliver superior programs and services, and her exceptional ability to inspire people to take action has created systemic reform at the local, state and national levels.

 

Ms. Stanley, along with her executive leadership team, have created new programs, financially stabilized and diversified the agency resources, and fostered the creation of many innovative programs, including social enterprises, supportive housing projects, job training, street engagement, and an internal strategic innovation department to lead the agency’s research, evaluation, grant, and data management functions.

 

Most recently, Diana led the agency in a $20 million capital campaign – “Home for Good” - to expand, increase and sustain the agency. Funds will be used to create a new 25,000 square foot facility on Australian Avenue that will be the new home for Café Joshua, Joshua Catering, Engagement Center, Job Training and Employment, Advocacy, Women Services, Reentry Services and Housing Services. The facility is slated to open in spring of 2023. In addition, funds will be used to increase the supportive housing in our community. Under Diana’s leadership, The Lord’s Place has tripled its housing inventory – including dedicated housing for women experiencing homelessness, poverty and formerly incarcerated.

 

Diana is a true advocate for quality of life, especially for the less fortunate, and her leadership inspires action and passion for changing lives.

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Val Stanley

Director of Women’s Services | The Lord’s Place, Inc.

Val Stanley is the Director of Women’s Services at The Lord’s Place. She leads the agency's Women's Services Initiative, which includes three housing programs for homeless and formerly incarcerated women,  gender-specific trainings and workshops for clients and staff, and community advocacy and networking to advance the rights of marginalized women. Val’s spirited determination to help our community’s most vulnerable women has led to many accomplishments, innovations and milestones throughout her tenure at The Lord’s Place. As the inaugural director of Burckle Place, which opened in 2013 to serve unsheltered women falling through the cracks of the local homeless system, Val has been instrumental in developing a gender-responsive program model that holistically empowers women to transform their lives. Val has an extensive professional and personal history of championing women’s issues in Palm Beach County. She is a former executive director of  PACE Center for Girls and the creator of a local women’s enrichment group that has more than 100 members.

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LaVon Stennis-Williams

Facility and Community Reentry Program Development Consultant

Bio

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Dr. Sandra Stone

Professor | University of South Florida

Bio

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Hannah Studer

Deputy Director | Bridges to Change

Bio

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Dr. Katelynn Towne

Research Coordinator | Nebraska Center for Justice Research, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Bio

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Arthur H. Townes

Returned Resident & Alumni Coordinator Manager | The GEO Group

Arthur H. Townes made a determination to never return through those doors again as an inmate when he the doors of NJDOC for the final time December 14, 1998. His thought was “the only way I would return through those doors would be as a guest or volunteer helping others.”

For the past twenty-two years Arthur Townes has worked in the field of addiction/reentry. He currently holds the position of Alumni Coordinator Manager of Alumni Services for GEO care, one of the largest reentry/correctional treatment providers in the country. Arthur has been with GEO for twenty years come, July 2020. He has worked at all levels during his tenor with GEO care and has been afforded opportunities to grow within the company, holding titles as high as National Director of alumni services. In addition, Mr. Townes works as a mentor/counselor at an agency that provides residential care to at risk youth ages 13-18. In keeping with a full schedule, Mr. Townes spends his weekend time at one of New Jersey’s leading detox/treatment providers working as a counselor.

 

He has secured coverage in print and broadcast outlets for his service to others and is a voice for the voiceless, including making appearances on the Steve Adubato Show, New Jersey Monthly, NJTV news, the Shelby County Reporter (Alabama), and Channel 12 New Jersey “In Our Schools.”

Having recently been accepted into the Post Graduate School of Social Work at the esteemed Rutgers University, Mr. Townes holds a BA in Social Work from Rutgers University Newark, where he was recognized for his service to the community and awarded the Dean James Plummer Award in 2016. Arthur also belongs to multiple advocacy groups and reentry task forces throughout the state.

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Dr. Noel Vest

Returned Resident and Research Scientist | Stanford University

Dr. Noel Vest is an instructor and research scientist at the Stanford University School of Medicine. As a formerly incarcerated scholar, Dr. Vest is an advocate for social justice issues and public policy concerning substance use disorder recovery and prison reentry. His research interests include mental health, substance use disorders, poverty, social justice, addiction recovery, and pain. He was recently awarded a K01 early investigator award through the National Institute of Drug Abuse. He received his PhD and Master’s degrees in Experimental Psychology from Washington State University.

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Lisa White

United States Probation Office Eastern District

Lisa White became a U.S. Probation Officer in May 2005. In June 2010, she developed Project Redirect, The Eastern District of Missouri’s intensive supervision program, which became a national model of direct reentry services to high risk offenders. This program was developed for offenders who have consistent violations for illicit drug use, minor new law violations and technical violations.  The program serves to reduce program participant’s rate of violations and address the barriers that are impeding their ability to become engaged with programming and successful reintegration back into the community. This led to development of programing for Crack releases, 782 cases and Johnson cases.  More recently, she coordinated with the Federal Public Defenders to develop reentry plans for the potential reentry of those who were seeking clemency.  Of the 20 reentry plans that were written, 15 were subsequently released. 

In 2015, she proposed the Reentry Unit when promoted to Supervising U.S. Probation Officer.  This unit is focused on the reentry needs of current inmates and special offender populations that historically have had difficulty in readjusting to life outside of prison. During her tenure as supervisor her unit has organized several family day events where children of inmates were transported to BOP institutions at no expense to the families. She developed a prerelease service model to provide inmates with resources two years to six months from release, which has also been espoused as a national model in reentry planning.  In addition she implemented cognitive based programing available at federal prison facilities and a strategic 90 day plan within the Residential Reentry Center geared toward accelerated and thorough reintegration of inmates into the community. All programing is evidence-based in accordance with addressing criminogenic needs.

As a Probation Officer she has extensive knowledgeable in the criminal justice system; federal probation and parole legal requirements, policies and procedures; sentencing statutes/guidelines and applicable case law; investigative and supervision techniques; and the roles, responsibilities and relationships among the federal courts, Parole Commission and Bureau of Prisons.  In addition she is skilled in using technology tools—including PACTS and DSS—to support and design best-practice reentry initiatives that positively affect how offenders are supervised. In her capacity of as a Supervising United States Probation officer, she always functions within the mission of the organization and encourages a diversity of ideas among her line officers.

 

Lisa M. White received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and African American History from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1995. She received a Graduate Degree in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003. She worked with the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole from 1999 to 2004, specializing in Dangerous Felons. She was appointed as a U.S. Probation Officer, Eastern District of Missouri, May 2005. She developed the Supervision Phase of the Family Support Community Connections Program in April, 2009, which focuses on assisting ex-offenders with reintegrating within the family unit. In May, 2012, she was promoted to Senior United States Probation Officer. In June, 2015 she was promoted to Supervising United States Probation Officer. 

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John Wise

Executive Director | Education Access Partnership

John Wise is the Executive Director of the Education Access Partnership, a nonprofit which works to increase access to quality higher education opportunities for those incarcerated in the Florida Department of Corrections. A formerly incarcerated student himself, he now studies Data Science at Indiana University East. John is a member of the Community Education Project at Stetson University, which brings quality Liberal Arts education to Florida prisoners. He also works on the Prison Mathematics Project, serving as an academic mentor for incarcerated students of mathematics all over the United States.