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White House to Recognize “Champions of Change” for Expanding Fair Chance Opportunities

April 25, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, April 27, the White House will recognize ten individuals from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Expanding Fair Chance Opportunities.”

 

These individuals were selected by the White House for their leadership and tireless work to remove barriers to a second chance for those with a criminal record.

 

Each year, more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons, and approximately 70 million people, about one third of working age adults, have an arrest or conviction. Too often, these individuals leave prison with few resources, practical skills, or the support they need to successfully reintegrate into society, and they end up returning to prison. In November, President Obama traveled to Newark, New Jersey to announce new actions to help formerly-incarcerated Americans – who have paid their debt to society – successfully obtain a job, find a home, take care of family responsibilities, and enjoy a second chance. These actions are underlined by a simple belief: When Americans who have earned a second chance are able to put their lives back on track, our communities are safer and stronger for it.

 

The program will feature remarks by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and Labor Deputy Secretary Chris Lu. The event will also highlight the growing list of public and private sector organizations that have stepped up to provide a second chance, including local governments that have passed “ban the box” ordinances and  companies that have signed the White House Fair Chance Business Pledge.

 

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live/ on Wednesday, April 27, at 1:00 PM ET. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.

 

Samantha Galarneau - San Diego, CA

Galarneau serves as Executive Vice President at California Marketing Group (CMG), a business process outsourcing vendor headquartered in San Diego, CA. Over the past 20 years, Galarneau has developed a company culture that focuses on the current qualities of candidates and her re-entry advocacy has helped foster a diverse and successful workforce. Since 2006, CMG has trained and relied upon federal inmates in the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (FPI or UNICOR) work program to perform tele-servicing functions on behalf of its customers. This relationship has been so successful that the call center operation was expanded to a second correctional facility in Tallahassee, Florida. Both locations operate outbound call centers and, together, employ more than 300 federal inmates. To date, over 100 formerly-incarcerated individuals have been provided a direct opportunity with CMG, and more than a 1,000 opportunities have been provided through partnerships and business relationships developed by Galarneau.

 

Sue Kastensen - Westby, WI

Kastensen is the founder and executive director of Fair Shake, a web- and software-based Reentry Resource Center. The idea for Fair Shake came in 1999 when an employee in a business she started in 1993 asked if she would consider hiring a friend who would soon be released from prison. Sue interviewed and hired the individual, learned a great deal about crime, prison, reentry and recidivism, and started building on an idea. By 2005, Sue sold her business and in 2009 launched Fair Shake. Today, Fair Shake provides a number of free resources to currently and formerly incarcerated individuals including a free office in the Clouds for formerly incarcerated individuals which includes data storage, email and a personal web page. The Fair Shake software and limited internet access website is also available in state prisons in Idaho, Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington.

 

Tina Naidoo – Dallas, TX

Naidoo, MSSW, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker serving as the executive director for the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative (T.O.R.I.), a prisoner reentry program of The Potter’s House Church in Dallas, Texas led by Bishop TD Jakes. Through the vision of Bishop TD Jakes, and under Tina’s leadership, T.O.R.I. has helped reduce the rate of recidivism by serving over 10,000 returning citizens and their families, over the past 10 years, through a 12 month intensive case management program that offers formerly incarcerated individuals the opportunity for a second chance by providing solutions to the many barriers they face upon release. The T.O.R.I. program has a recidivism rate of 11% through its holistic approach to six core components: Employment, Housing, Healthcare, Family Reunification, and Spiritual Guidance. 

 

Dorsey Nunn - Menlo Park, CA

Nunn is the executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and co-founder of “All of Us or None,” an organization that supports formerly incarcerated individuals. Since 2003, Nunn has been at the forefront of a movement where formerly incarcerated individuals speak in their own voices, transform their lives and communities, and fully participate in all aspects of society. All of Us or None originated and continues to expand the “Ban the Box” campaign – a nationwide effort to eliminate structural discrimination based on conviction history in employment, housing, education, social services and other areas. Nunn and his organization have been involved in efforts to ban the box on employment applications in local and state governments and in some of the largest corporations in the country. Formerly incarcerated himself, Dorsey holds numerous prestigious awards for over thirty-five years of work on prison reform and social justice.

 

Juan Perez—Miami-Dade County, FL

Perez was appointed to be the Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department by Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez in 2016 and has served in the Miami-Dade Police Department since 1990. Throughout his extensive law-enforcement career, he has served as a supervisor in Police Services, Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security, Robbery, Chief in the Police Services’ South Operations Division, and as Deputy Director. The Miami-Dade Police Department has prioritized training its workforce on Crisis Intervention, so that the mentally ill persons are treated rather than incarcerated. In addition, Director Perez participates in the Re-entry Council Committee of the Miami-Dade Criminal Justice Council ensuring comprehensive local re-entry programs. He has recently developed the Youth Outreach Unit which helps at-risk children at an early age in an effort to break the cycle of violence. 

 

Gregory P. Razo - Anchorage, AK

Razo is an Alaska Native and shareholder of Cook Inlet Region, Inc., an Alaska Native Corporation which supports his efforts to improve Alaska’s civil and criminal justice systems. He serves as Chairman of the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission charged with evaluating and making recommendations to improve criminal laws and practices, keeping in mind the goals of enhancing public safety, rehabilitation, victim restitution and reducing costs. Alaska is in the midst of omnibus criminal justice reform legislation that is based upon the Commission’s policy recommendations to the Alaska Legislature. Razo also serves as Vice Chair of the Alaska Native Justice Center tribal non-profit to address Alaska Natives’ unmet needs regarding the Alaska civil and criminal justice system in response to the increasing disproportionate rates of victimization, incarceration and other justice-related issues impacting Alaska Natives throughout Alaska.

 

Carrie Ann Schubert - Beaverton, OR

Schubert is the President of the Beaverton Bakery, which has been a community landmark since 1925 and in the Schubert family since 1965. The Beaverton Bakery started its Second Chance Program ten years ago but the business has been providing second chance opportunities since it was founded. The program was developed in partnership with Judge Thomas W. Kohl who presided over the Washington County Adult Drug Treatment Court. The program focuses on teaching bakery skills as part of an effort to help individuals transition back to the community after being released from prison. Since the program was founded, Beaverton Bakery has trained and hired over 200 formerly incarcerated individuals.

 

Robert Scott - Ithaca, NY

Robert Scott, PhD, is Executive Director of the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) at Cornell University. CPEP provides college-level liberal arts education to qualified incarcerated students in upstate New York prisons. CPEP is a response to the challenge of mass incarceration in the United States: too many people in prison with too few opportunities for education and rehabilitation. CPEP demonstrates the transformative power of higher education in prison. Former students of the program have gone on to serve as role models in the community, participating in civic life and finding gainful employment in spite of the myriad challenges that face formerly incarcerated individuals. Under Robert's tenure, the program has expanded to three prisons and is serving approximately 200 incarcerated individuals this year. Robert has also been noted for his leadership in increasing collaboration in the field, contributing to the formation of a NY statewide consortium, as well as a national consortium for higher education in prison.

 

Roby So - Los Angeles, CA

So is a Re-Entry Program Manager at the Executive Clemency Initiative, part of Stanford Law School’s Justice Advocacy Project. Since becoming involved in 2012, So has provided support for both federal and state inmates returning home after long sentences, often meeting them at the prison gates. Having served in California’s prison system for 12 years, he has used his experience as an inmate to help released prisoners reintegrate into society. In 2015, So was featured in a New York Times Magazine article on reintegrating the formerly incarcerated. He also serves as an example for formerly incarcerated individuals by working full time as post production supervisor in the entertainment industry, proving that hard work and determination can overcome barriers.

 

Sabra Williams—Los Angeles, CA

Williams is an actress and the founder and Director of The Actors’ Gang Prison Project. The Prison Project conducts eight-week theatre workshops inside the California prison system and has developed programs at The California Institution for Men, The California Institution for Women, The California Rehabilitation Center, Lancaster State Prison, Ironwood State Prison, and New Folsom Prison. As one of the only remaining arts programs inside California’s correctional system, The Prison Project fosters tolerance and nonviolent expression while significantly reducing recidivism rates.

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