Co-Director – Sanfoka.org
Native New Yorker, Gina Belafonte has spent her life in the arenas of entertainment and activism where her professional work thrives today. As the youngest child of Julie and Harry Belafonte, whose impact in these fields is among the most influential and progressive in the world, Gina’s passions come as no surprise. Gina lives in LA and New York, working with diverse artists, activists and organizations worldwide to promote cultural and civic engagement in the 21st century. An Actress, Director and Producer, Gina is now the Co-Director of Sankofa.org, a social justice organization founded by her father, that enlists the support of today’s most celebrated artists and influential individuals in collaboration with grassroots partners to elevate the voices of the disenfranchised and promote peace, justice and equality.
Department Administrator – New York University Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
Marlene Brito is a visionary leader with an accomplished background in Community Engagement, Program Administration, Strategic Planning and Diversity Inclusion Strategy. Currently, Marlene serves as Administrator of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. Prior to transitioning to Higher Education, Marlene acted as the Director of Programs at National Urban Fellows, a Leadership Development organization that trains leaders of color and women to be change agents in their communities. Marlene previously served as a Community Engagement Manager at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia and has held various positions in the fashion industry.
Executive Director of Alliance of Families for Justice
Soffiyah Elijah is Executive Director of the Alliance of Families for Justice and former E.D. of the Correctional Association of New York. An accomplished advocate, attorney, scholar and educator, Ms. Elijah is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the nearly 170-year old organization in its mission to create a fairer, more effective and humane criminal justice system. Prior to joining the staff of the Correctional Association in March 2011, Ms. Elijah served as Deputy Director and a clinical instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. A native New Yorker, Ms. Elijah practiced criminal and family law in New York City for more than 20 years. Before moving to Harvard, she was a member of the faculty and Director and supervising attorney of the Defender Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law. She was a supervising attorney at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, where she defended indigent members of the Harlem community, and has also worked as a staff attorney for the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society. She has authored several articles and publications on U.S. criminal and juvenile justice policy and prison conditions and is a frequent presenter at national and international forums.
Founder/Chief Executive Officer – Lava Records
Jason Flom is the founder and CEO of Lava Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group that represents artists Lorde, Jessie J, and Black Veil Brides, among others. Mr. Flom established Lava in 1995 as a joint venture with Atlantic Records, where he began his career in the music industry in 1979. He rose through the ranks at Atlantic and was named chairman and CEO in 2003. From 2006 to 2008, he served as chairman and CEO of Virgin Records, and subsequently moved to Capitol Music Group, where he served as chairman and CEO. Mr. Flom is the son of the late Joseph Flom (1924-1987), a founding partner at global law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. The elder Mr. Flom was instrumental in establishing the Skadden Fellowship Foundation at the firm, which supports law school graduates who provide legal services to the poor. He was also a philanthropist who focused his giving on higher education and social services organizations. Jason is a founding board member of the Innocence Project and serves on the boards of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, The Legal Action Center, The Drug Policy Alliance, and Vetpaw.
Director – Center for Place, Culture and Politics – The Graduate Center (CUNY)
Ruth Wilson Gilmore is Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, and American Studies, and Director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In her prize-winning book, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, (2007) she explained the political economy of mass incarceration in the world’s 6th largest economy. The 2012 DVD “Visions of Abolition: From Critical Resistance to a New Way of Life,” features Gilmore and other scholars who examine race, gender, sexuality, the prison system, and the purpose of the prison abolition movement. Gilmore lectures widely, works regularly with community groups, and is known for the broad accessibility of her research. Gilmore is a co-founder of California Prison Moratorium Project, Critical Resistance, Central California Environmental Justice Network, and other grassroots organizations. She holds a Ph.D. in economic geography and social theory from Rutgers University.
Director – Education Justice Project (University of Illinois)
Rebecca Ginsburg directs the Education Justice Project, a comprehensive college-in-prison program based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. EJP provides educational programs to men incarcerated at Danville Correctional Center, produces a state reentry guide with the assistance of EJP alumni, and hosts programs to support family members of incarcerated individuals. Rebecca is trained as an architectural historian and teaches a course on the History of Prisons. Her current research interests include prison education and historical carceral landscapes. She holds a PhD in Architectural History, University of California at Berkeley, a J.D., Law, University of Michigan Law School, and a B.A., English, Loyola Marymount University.
Founder/President – JustLeadershipUSA
Glenn E. Martin is the Founder of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Glenn is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in NYS prisons.
Prior to founding JLUSA, Glenn served for seven years as VP of Public Affairs at The Fortune Society, and six years as Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center. Glenn is Co-Founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow, a 2012 America’s Leaders of Change National Urban Fellow, and a member of the governing boards of the College and Community Fellowship, Million Hoodies and the California Partnership for Safe Communities. Glenn also serves on Governor Cuomo’s Reentry and Reintegration Council, the advisory board of the Vera Institute’s Public Health and Mass Incarceration Initiative, the National Network for Safe Communities, the Executive Session on Community Corrections at Harvard University, and the Global Advisory Council (GAC) of Cornerstone Capital Group. In 2014, Glenn became a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, the highest title of honor bestowed by the Governor of Kentucky. Glenn was named on The 2015 Root 100 list of most influential African Americans and #11 of Fast Company’s 100 Most Influential People in Business 2016 edition.
In 2015, Glenn wrote an open letter to President Obama, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, after a visit as an invited guest to the White House when he was separated from his colleagues and given a special escort due to his criminal conviction. Glenn was later invited back to speak on a panel at the White House, getting the chance to meet with President Obama at an event focused on criminal justice reform. In 2016, Glenn was appointed to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform; at the invitation of New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to look at the possibility of closing Rikers Island. Glenn regularly contributes his expertise to national news outlets such as MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Al Jazeera and CSPAN.
Co-Founder/Executive Director – College and Community Fellowship
The Reverend Vivian Nixon is Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship (CCF), an organization committed to removing individual and structural barriers to higher education for women with criminal record histories and their families. As a formerly incarcerated woman and prior CCF program participant, Rev. Nixon is uniquely positioned to lead the charge to help justice-involved women and their families have a better future. While incarcerated, Rev. Nixon spent time as a peer educator for the adult basic education program at Albion State Correctional Facility in New York. Following her release, she was ordained by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) and currently serves as an associate minister at Mt. Zion AMEC in New York City. She is a Columbia University Community Scholar and a recipient of the John Jay Medal for Justice, the Ascend Fellowship at the Aspen Institute, the Soros Justice Fellowship, and the Petra Foundation Fellowship. She is a co-founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO), a collaborative effort to increase access to higher education for justice-involved students and serves on the advisory board of JustLeadershipUSA. Rev. Nixon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York Empire College.
Sr. Helen Prejean
Anti-Death Penalty Activist and Advocate for Justice Reform
Sister Helen Prejean began her prison ministry in 1981 when she dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans. She is the author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, also a major motion picture, an opera, and a play, and The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions. The Roman Catholic sister has witnessed six executions in Louisiana and today educates the public about the death penalty by lecturing, organizing and writing. She is the spiritual advisor to two men currently on death row and she is currently working on a spiritual memoir, titled River of Fire, to be published by Random House.
Professor of Clinical Law – New York University School of Law
Anthony Thompson is a Professor of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law. He teaches courses related to criminal law and civil litigation. His scholarship focuses on race, offender reentry, criminal justice issues and leadership. Thompson designed and developed the first course in the country focusing on offender reentry, formerly known as the Offender Reentry Clinic. The clinic has been renamed the Community Reentry and Reintegration Clinic (“CRRC”) and will focus on individual client advocacy as well as policy work. He has previously taught the Prosecution Clinic, a year-long seminar that placed students in the District Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and the Bronx. Prior to his appointment to the NYU faculty, he was in private practice in Richmond, California where he handled criminal, civil, and entertainment matters. Before opening his own practice, Professor Thompson served for nine years as a Deputy Public Defender in Contra Costa County California.