Reimagining Communities

2019 Fellows

Community-led solutions to end the incarceration of women and girls

We're Reimagining Our Communities
a collective contribution to changing decades of mass incarceration and law enforcement led policies

Alejandra Pablos – Phoenix, AZ

ABOLISH ICE PODCAST TOUR

Alejandra Pablos will be hosting a podcast tour where we will learn about women facing double punishment, while surviving systemic racism and oppression everyday. The stories shared will highlight and support the narrative to abolish ICE, the double punishment immigrant folks experience, and create space to talk about why Abolish ICE is the beginning of a larger movement to eradicate all prisons and policing as we know it.

Ashlee Sellars and Myeisha Brown – Free Hearts – Nashville, TN

END FELONY MURDER

Ashlee Sellars and Myeisha Brown of Free Hearts will be creating a model for retroactive policy language to end felony murder in Tennessee and nationally. The goal of their work is to eliminate or reduce the number of women and girls who are currently incarcerated or facing extreme sentences due to the charge of felony murder. This project will reduce the re-victimization of our youth, and the criminalization of survivors.

Ayana Aubourg – Sisters Unchained -Families for Justice as Healing – Boston, MA

BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF DIRECTLY IMPACTED GIRLS

Ayana Aubourg is the co-director of Sisters Unchained, a program dedicated to young women affected by parental incarceration. With Families for Justice as Healing in Boston, MA, Ayana is working to build community though political education, art, and healing. As a fellow she will continue to work with daughters of incarcerated parents to heal from the harms of incarceration while organizing to transform the criminal legal system. Ayana will further develop the curriculum for Sisters Unchained with the goal of publishing as an online resource for educators, sustain gathering and healing spaces for family members of incarcerated loved ones, conduct and supervise young women who will lead participatory research with families most affected by the criminal legal system, and engage daughters as well as their incarcerated and formerly incarcerated mothers in policy advocacy. Finally, Ayana will be helping to organize girls nationally for policy advocacy within the National Council.

Christina Kovats and Kristina Byers – Constructing Our Future – Indianapolis, IN

REIMAGINING HOUSING

Christina Kovats and Kristina Byers will continue their work with Constructing Our Future, a re-entry program conceived and led by incarcerated and formerly women, to oversee the organization’s first project to renovate an abandoned house in Indianapolis for the purpose of providing housing to formerly incarcerated women.

In an effort to also continue raising public awareness and educating policy decisions, Kovats and Byers will represent concerns of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their families in public policy forums in Indiana. Representation of women involves educating policy leaders and other members of the community of the struggles that we confront both inside and outside the prison walls that affect our ability to thrive.

Denise Coleman – People’s Advocacy Institute – Jackson, MS

ELECTORAL JUSTICE ORGANIZING

As an organizing member of the People’s Advocacy Institute (PAI) supported by the historical civil rights work of the Chokwe Lumumba family, Denise Coleman furthers the mission of PAI through her work by supporting PAI clients in prison: providing encouragement via letter writing, family check-ins and assist with charting financial support for PAI clients that are currently serving time behind prison walls. Denise is also working on Electoral Justice organizing and assisting with People’s Assemblies, political education efforts, and gathering the stories of women and their issues after release. Coleman will be establishing a Jackson, Mississippi hub working in collaboration with National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.

Desseray Wright

RESPONSE TEAM MODEL FOR GRIEVING INCARCERATED MOTHERS

As an incarcerated mother who lost her 16 year old daughter, Quanisha Wright, to gun violence, Desseray is working to create a national model for state and federal prisons to provide appropriate responses to the loss of a child during a mother’s incarceration. Her project will engage with currently incarcerated women who will form a response team inside of the prison and be supported by formerly incarcerated and movement women from Mothers In Charge in Philadelphia, PA, who will provide support as the outside response team.

Betty Washington – Montgomery, AL

SELF ADVOCACY LEGAL SUPPORT

Betty Washington is creating a self-advocacy legal support system to assist   individuals entangled in the criminal and civil legal systems with resources to assist them in their self advocacy. Washington will also be establishing a Montgomery, AL hub working in collaboration with National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.

Elizabeth Brico – Fort Lauderdale, FL

INVESTIGATING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN CHILD WELFARE

Elizabeth Brico’s Reimagining Communities Fellowship will focus on investigating the emerging use of Artificial Intelligence in the child welfare sector. Proponents of these AI programs say they reduce burnout for case workers and help eliminate human error. Critics, however, say they perpetuate historical class, racial, and other biases, and a growing body of evidence suggests they produce an alarming rate of false positives and other harmful consequences. Brico will perform an in-depth investigation into these programs to understand and reveal how, where, and why they are being integrated into the child welfare programs.

Jamila Davis – New York, NY

BOOKS AND CURRICULUM TO ADDRESS ROOT CAUSES OF WOMEN’S INCARCERATION

Jamila Davis will continue her work to create a series of books and written curriculum that address the root causes of women’s entanglement in the criminal legal system, including past abuse and trauma, and implement the curriculum inside of women’s prisons.

Joyce McMillan – Harlem, NY

END THE FOSTER CARE TO PRISON PIPELINE

Joyce McMillan will bring awareness to support the elimination of over policing of low-income families and the extreme punishment of women of color by the child welfare system.

Judy Henderson

CLEMENCY

“Clemency is a confusing and intricate process that is one of the most under-utilized tools of relief. Judy Henderson has been working on the Clemency process in Missouri since 1983, both on the inside and now on the outside. As a double Clemency recipient, both commutation and pardon, she hopes to demystify the Clemency process and provide assistance to those seeking relief.”

Jurrell Laronal – Boston, MA

HEALING MOVEMENT

“Healing Movement” is an intentional small group fitness training for women over age forty five who are re-entering their communities after prison, women in recovery, women survivors of violence, and women with incarcerated loved ones. “Healing Movement” will establish a national model to provide a supportive space for older women survivors of trauma seeking healing, well-being, and connection with other women who they will feel comfortable sweating, struggling, and succeeding alongside.

Lashanna Tyson and Susanne Manning

REIMAGINING VOTING

The campaign will focus on educating and encouraging a percentage of the 1.4 million Returning Citizens who are now able to vote in the State of Florida, due to the passing of Amendment 4.  Additionally, Tyson and Manning will be establishing the Orlando, FL hub working in collaboration with National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.

Lola Levesque – Parental Rights Protection Project – Phoenix, AZ

REDUCING THE COLLATERAL DAMAGES OF PARENTAL INCARCERATION

Lola will continue her work on Parental Rights Protection Project Arizona. PRPP seeks to reduce the collateral damages of parental incarceration establish workshops for parents and children facing legal proceedings eliminate barriers to parenting inside prison, and create a court-accepted Parent Information Program (PIP) to be offered inside Arizona prisons.

Martha Shearer – Birmingham, AL

NOT NECESSARILY POLITICAL PODCAST

Martha will launch the Not Necessarily Political podcast focusing on second chances. The podcast highlights organizations and persons that offer second chances. Additionally, Shearer will be establishing the Birmingham, AL hub working in collaboration with National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.

Susan Mason

EQUITY IN EMPLOYMENT

Staying out of prison and successfully reintegrating into society is one of the greatest challenges women face upon release and discrimination in employment is the number one cause of recidivism.  Sue’s project increases employment opportunities by working directly with HR professionals to identify company-based regulatory hiring barriers that keep out qualified candidates from work and deny employers the talent they need.

Tonja Honsey

RURAL AND INDIGENOUS ORGANIZING

As an Indigenous Incarceration Survivor, Tonja Honsey is highlighting the disparities within that community. The overall population of MN comprises of less than 1% of Native women, and Native women make up 25% of incarcerated women in the state prison & county jails, including many rural jails. We Rise! Leadership Collective Of Justice Involved Women Leaders has the goal to end incarceration of women & girls through policy & advocacy with a healing justice, transformative & restorative lens. The long term goal is to train & support other women organizers within their rural communities.