ann-2016-bioAnn Jacobs, Director
Ann joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute in May 2011 with over forty years of experience in the criminal justice field. For nearly two decades, Ms. Jacobs served as the Executive Director of the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) in New York. The WPA is the nation’s oldest and largest social service and advocacy organization for incarcerated women, formerly incarcerated women, and their families. During her time at WPA, she directed 120 staff members who served over 2,500 women and their families per year at five community sites, the city jail, and four women’s prisons in New York State. Under Ms. Jacobs’ leadership, WPA’s budget expanded from $500,000 in 1990 to a budget of $8.5 million at the time her of departure in 2008. Ms. Jacobs has served as a national spokesperson, consultant and trainer on a range of issues including gender, families and criminal justice, as well as associated issues of substance abuse, mental health, health, housing, child welfare and employment. Ms. Jacobs has designed and implemented innovative programs for women and families involved in the criminal justice system and has also served as a consultant to the National Institute of Corrections and Annie E. Casey Foundation, among others.As a recognized advocate and reformer, Ms. Jacobs also founded the Women’s Justice Alliance, a consortium of over 100 service providers in New York State; she created the Institute on Women in Criminal Justice, a national policy center dedicated to improving the policies and practices affecting women in the criminal justice system; and the Women’s Advocacy Project, a program in public policy and civic involvement for formerly incarcerated women. Previously, Jacobs was responsible for oversight of the city’s five public safety agencies for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations and served as the Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator from 1986 to 1990. Earlier in her career, Ms. Jacobs worked at the Pretrial Services Resource Center and the National Institute for Dispute Resolution. Her experience encompasses work in both the juvenile and adult justice systems, at the local and national levels. Ms. Jacobs earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park and attended the University of Baltimore Law School.
Ebony ABEbony Abel-Brown, Academic Counselor
Ebony joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as an Academic Counselor in September 2015. Prior to joining the PRI community, she was a College Initiative student in 2012. She studied at Hostos Community College where she became a mentor and then earned her associate degree in Community Health. She enjoys the responsibility of providing educational guidance and assistance for students by creating pathways through college and determining appropriate education solutions for her students. Ebony is now attending Hunter College majoring in Sociology. She is passionate about becoming a social worker which gives her the motivation to continue to help others become successful.
Baker 1Aimée Baker, Events and Communications Associate
Aimée joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as an Events and Communications Associate in June 2015. She coordinates event logistics and communications, assists with the maintenance of the PRI website and provides support to all PRI projects. Prior to working at PRI, she worked at City Year as the Learning and Development Coordinator where she planned event logistics and facilitated workshops and presentations on professional development to corps members. She previously interned at Phipps Neighborhoods as well as the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs helping immigrant New Yorkers practice English while informing them of the city’s resources and services. Aimée graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Sociology and minored in African-American Studies and Spanish.
Susie Charlop, Outreach Coordinator
Susie Charlop joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Outreach Coordinator in May 2018 to advance the work of PRI’s Prison-to-College Pipeline (P2CP) and College Initiative (CI) programs, as well as the District Attorney of New York’s (DANY) College-in-Prison Reentry Initiative. Susie conducts college information and outreach sessions in correctional facilities across NYS, supports students’ academic progress as they prepare for reentry, and builds relationships with community-based services and college-in-prison providers. Prior to joining PRI, Susie worked as the Director of Organizing and Constituent Services for New York City Council Member Brad Lander. In her free time, she volunteers for the Parole Preparation Project, which collaborates with advocates for parole-eligible people serving life sentences in New York State prisons. Through her experiences, Susie has become a skilled advocate who is deeply passionate about supporting individuals impacted by the criminal justice system. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the George Washington University.
Elizabeth Renée Davis, Finance Associate
Elizabeth joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Finance Associate in September 2016. As a member of the Operations Team, she supports PRI Initiatives by managing financial transactions & purchasing as well as processing financial reports, allowing PRI program staff to focus on transforming and improving reentry services through innovative programming and research. Prior to joining PRI, Elizabeth worked in higher education at the College of Staten Island, CUNY as a Project Coordinator overseeing recruitment material development. She also worked as a Writing Adjunct Lecturer preparing students to pass the CUNY Assessment Test and as an English Tutor, reflecting her passion for bolstering student success. Elizabeth graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s in Public Administration from City College’s Public Service Management Program and Bachelor’s of Political Science from the College of Staten Island.
Veronica Dingwall, Outreach Coordinator
Veronica Dingwall joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Outreach Coordinator for the new college access initiative at Rikers Island in October 2017. In this position she is responsible for implementing and facilitating college information sessions for incarcerated people interested in pursuing higher education. Veronica is a Howard University alumna with a B.A. in Public Relations. She has worked over eight years in youth development and education as a Writing Corps Facilitator and Program Coordinator for multiple Harlem Children’s Zone programs. Prior to joining the PRI team, Veronica worked for The New York Public Library as a Correctional Services Assistant for the Video Visitation program. As an activist and chaplain, Veronica has partnered with Faith in New York and The Groundswell Group to be a mouthpiece for social and environmental justice. She is a staunch believer in the tenets of restorative justice and is thrilled to join PRI as a champion for equitable education opportunities for marginalized people.
10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1003Nicole Dreisbach, Research Analyst
Nicole joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as a Research Analyst in October 2016. She is responsible for supporting the data collection, reporting, and analysis of PRI’s educational initiatives. She has accumulated more than a decade’s worth of experience working at a number of non-profit research and evaluation organizations that address the needs of vulnerable populations. As part of this work, she often assisted community-based organizations in expanding their own research capabilities. Nicole holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology from Temple University and a Master’s in Public Health from The George Washington University.
Ayiisha Ferrell, Program Associate, College Initiative
Ayiisha joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as a Program Associate for College Initiative (CI) in February 2018. Previously, she worked as the Recruitment Coordinator for the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) at Marymount Manhattan College. Ayiisha holds a Bachelor's degree in English and World Literature from Marymount Manhattan College and plans to pursue a Master’s of Education in the future. She has spent time volunteering with Reading Partners, a non-profit which aids students who are reading below grade-level, and was a Teaching Assistant during her senior year of undergraduate degree. Ayiisha is passionate about social justice and is an advocate for equal access to education for disenfranchised groups.
Desiree Gomez, Academic Counselor at PRI Desiree Gomez, Academic Counselor
Desiree joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as an Academic Counselor in November 2017. Prior to joining the PRI community, she worked as a Research Assistant for Dr. Eileen C. Treacy whose research focuses on sexual abuse, sexual assault, and developmental psychology. Desiree graduated from Lehman College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and is planning to pursue a Masters in Forensic Psychology.
Angelina Garcia, Program Associate, Educational Initiatives
Sasha Graham, Director of Fellowship Initiatives
Sasha joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Director of Fellowship Initiatives in November 2017. She oversees all aspects of the PRI fellowship process including, recruitment, selection, and matching of fellows, program design and evaluation, and fellows alumni support. She is responsible for building and maintaining effective working relationships with student fellows, worksite hosts, and foundation partners to ensure the long term success and enduring impact of PRI’s fellowship programs. Prior to joining our team Sasha was the Director of a Brooklyn Community Services’ after school program where she designed and implemented educational offerings to develop youth creativity, leadership and critical thinking skills, civic engagement, and high school readiness. Before joining BCS she served as a professional mentor and youth advocate to adolescents deemed most at risk for criminal justice involvement and high school dropout. Her project management and leadership experience is enhanced by her involvement and contributions to the start-up efforts of various multi-faceted community based programs, including Save Our Streets South Bronx. Sasha holds a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Government & Law from Lafayette College.
Zoe Johnson, Program Associate Policy Initiatives, PRIZoe Johnson, Program Associate
Zoë joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Policy Initiatives Program Associate in February 2017. Her primary responsibilities include providing programmatic and administrative support to the Director and Policy Director. Prior to joining PRI, Zoë worked as an English Teaching Assistant in Guadeloupe with the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF), and as a Summer Teaching Fellow at MS 331, the Bronx School of Young Leaders. She also worked with the NYU Marron Institute, an organization focused on urban management, criminal justice, and environmental health, where she provided programmatic and executive support. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she participated in a course to create and facilitate an arts-based empowerment workshop for a group of incarcerated young adults at Rikers Island. She also provided tutoring at the Fortune Society's alternative-to-incarceration education program. Zoë graduated summa cum laude from NYU with a Bachelor of Arts in French and a minor in Media, Culture, and Communication.
Johnson-ColonDaonese Johnson-Colón, Chief of Staff
Daonese joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Director of Operations in June 2012. She is responsible for strengthening the Institute’s infrastructure as it enters its second decade, serves as a strategic thinking partner for the Director, oversees all aspects of finance, human resources and operations with an eye toward continuously developing and improving systems, collaborates with program directors to coordinate program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and oversees implementation of new programs and special projects. Daonese has thirteen years of experience in higher education administration within the CUNY system and is a trained conflict resolution mediator. She is also the creator and lead facilitator of Be Your Best Self, a course on self-discovery, self-awareness and self-reflection. Before joining our team, Daonese was the business manager for the Baruch College Survey Research unit. She is a recipient of the NAACP Minority Achievement Recognition Award. Daonese graduated Summa cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies and earned a Master’s in Legal Studies from Kaplan University.
Rona Lane, Senior Grant Writer
Rona joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) as the Senior Grant Writer in March 2018. She is responsible for reporting on PRI’s work to current funders and supporting PRI’s fundraising efforts by researching and pursuing new avenues of support to increase program services. Rona has over a decade of fundraising experience serving nonprofits throughout New York City, including Immigration Equality, the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and Good Shepherd Services. Prior to focusing on development, Rona spent over eight years in the field providing outreach programs and trainings on child abuse prevention, indicators, and reporting in NYC Department of Education schools. Rona holds a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from Stony Brook University, where she also received her Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Art History and Criticism.
Maria Iskaros, Program Associate, Fellowship Initiatives
Maria joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as Program Associate for Fellowship Initiatives in May 2018, where she assists with administration of PRI's Fellowships. Prior to working at PRI, Maria was an Events Intern at Amnesty International USA and a Logistics Intern for the Youth Assembly at the United Nations. Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts in Black Studies and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies from SUNY New Paltz. During her undergraduate career, Maria became very active in social justice activism, and organized against mass incarceration, the prison-industrial complex, racial injustice, LGBTQ injustices, and for the improvement of student life on campus.
Ebony Maher, Academic Counselor
Ebony joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as an Academic Counselor in February 2016. Before joining our team, she worked at the Mental Health Association of New York as an Education Coordinator for adolescents with a mental health disability at the Youth Employment Services program. Ebony graduated from York College with a Bachelors in Social Work.
Franderis Mercedes, Program Coordinator, Prison-to-College-Pipeline Franderis joined the Prison Reentry Institute (PRI) in December 2016. Specifically, she works on the Statewide Mapping Project, which maps the higher education system within New York State prisons. Prior to joining PRI, Franderis interned at the New York State Assembly for the office of Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz, where she developed her passion for public policy and legislation. Franderis also spent time with the New York Civil Liberties Union, developing an extensive knowledge on constitutional rights and laws and gaining valuable experience in civil rights politics and community outreach. Franderis earned her BA in Sociology from the State University at Albany.
Stephanie Phelan, Program Associate, Collaborative Learning
Stephanie joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Collaborative Learning Program Associate in March 2018. Prior to joining PRI, Stephanie worked as a Volunteer/Programs Coordinator where she provided programmatic and administrative support at Court-Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Essex County, in Newark, NJ. She has also worked at STRIVE International Inc., as part of their national team, where she supported STRIVE’s affiliate network initiatives. While pursuing her Master’s degree she worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Developmental Systems Science and Evaluation Research Lab, where she gained experience in positive youth development, program evaluation, and capacity-building. Her Master’s degree is in Family and Child Studies from Montclair State University, and her Bachelor of Arts degree is from Monmouth University in Psychology, with minors in Social Welfare, and Spanish.
Quintana 1Carlos Quintana, Director of College Access
Carlos joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the College Initiative Program Coordinator in January 2016. Previously, he worked for nine years in after-school programs in New York City public schools doing Human Rights and Social Justice programming. Carlos holds a BA in Sociology and Education from Northeastern University where he studied to become an elementary school teacher. Carlos is passionate about Social Justice issues and cares deeply about higher education access for under-served communities.
Sophia Reuss, Communications Associate at PRISophia Reuss, Communications Associate
Sophia joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute in January 2018. Previously, she worked as the Program Coordinator for Book Clubs for Inmates, a non-profit based in Toronto that runs volunteer-facilitated book clubs in federal prisons across Canada. Sophia served as a Fellow in Public Practice at the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI), an interdisciplinary research hub at McGill University that strives to reorient the academic community towards public practice and community engagement. In her spare time, Sophia works as an assistant editor for, an independent Canadian news source committed to amplifying progressive voices. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, in Montreal.
Alejo Rodriguez, Mentor and Alumni Coordinator, PRIAlejo Rodriguez, Mentoring and Alumni Coordinator
Alejo joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as a Mentor and Alumni Coordinator in October 2017. Prior to joining the PRI community, Alejo’s previous criminal justice experience culminated into an extensive background of peer educating, organizing and mentoring. He was also a founding teaching artist member of Tribeca Film Institute’s Community Screening Series for incarcerated men. He enjoys the opportunity of Mentor Alumni Coordinator to support the success of formerly incarcerated college students and looking for creative ways to engage students in community building relationships. Alejo received his Masters of Professional Studies degree from New York Theological Seminary and a Bachelors of Liberal Arts degree from Syracuse University.
Rafael Rodriguez, Program Coordinator
Rafael joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Program Associate of the Fellowship Initiative in January 2017, providing programmatic support to PRI’s fellowship initiatives. He manages and participates in the recruitment and outreach efforts for fellows and host sites for all fellowship initiatives; oversees the fellowship application process; and develops and oversees alumni services, mentoring fellows and serving as a contact for the host sites. Prior to joining PRI, Rafael was a Vocational Counselor/Resume Writer at The Fortune Society, where he specialized in internship management, career development, resume writing and program outreach. He co-managed and facilitated The Fortune Society’s Transitional Work Program, a 10-week paid internship for formerly incarcerated clients returning to the workforce or transitioning to new careers. Further, he served as Program Coordinator for The Fortune Society’s commercial driving (Class B) and standard driving (Class D) training programs. Rafael holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law (Class of 1994) and graduated cum laude from St. Joseph’s University (Class of 1991) with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. In addition to his work at PRI, Rafael is part of the Stella Adler Outreach Division’s OutsideIn Theatre Company, where as part of an ensemble group, he writes and performs original works authored by young men and women currently or formerly detained at one of the various jails on Riker’s Island. Rafael is a firm believer in the power of the arts to heal, transform and transcend.
Mariana Sant'Anna, Operations Manager
Mariana joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Operations Manager in January 2018. Previously, she worked as the Events Associate at the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College. At NNSC, Mariana was responsible for managing administration and logistics of various internal and external events, as well as handling routine and impromptu purchases for events, negotiating with vendors, tracking and reporting purchases, and managing NNSC travel and policies. Prior to NNSC, she worked as the Development Coordinator at Sponsors for Education Opportunity, an educational nonprofit helping public high school students go to and graduate from college. Mariana holds a BA in Psychology from Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, City University of New York, where she graduated with honors.
Sigman 1Elena Sigman, Director of Collaborative Learning
Elena joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Special Advisor in September 2011. Ms. Sigman convenes and facilitates the NYC Justice Corps Learning Community, a forum for skills training, exchange of best practices, and mutual support for professionals working with young adults ages 18-24 who are involved in the criminal justice system and are gaining access to education and employment in the community. Previously, Ms. Sigman prepared the solicitation to expand the NYC Justice Corps and managed the program’s growth to four sites. Ms. Sigman brings more than 20 years of nonprofit operations and management experience, including strategic planning and program design, program start-up, staff professional development, volunteer engagement, communications, and grant-writing. Ms. Sigman has served as Director of Food Programs at an environmental organization and as Director of Operations at the Women’s Prison Association, among other roles.
Bianca van Heydoorn, Director of Educational Initiatives
Bianca joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Director of Educational Initiatives in August 2012. Her primary responsibility is to oversee projects related to increasing engagement, enrollment and retention in higher education for individuals with criminal justice histories. She works closely with institutions of higher education, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and other partners on existing projects as well as developing strategies for future initiatives. Bianca comes to PRI with ten years of experience in direct service and program implementation with justice involved populations. Prior to joining PRI, she provided educational and career counseling to young men at Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO), a reentry program in East Harlem. In addition, Bianca’s previous experience includes employment at the Vera Institute of Justice, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) and Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) where she worked on juvenile justice reform, youth development, commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC), discharge planning and building government and community partnerships. She was also a 2007-2009 F.A.O. Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow and is published in the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice. Bianca graduated Magna cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Correctional Sociology from the CUNY Baccalaureate Program for Interdisciplinary Studies and earned a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Amy Wald, Intake and Resource Coordinator
Amy joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Intake and Resource Coordinator in October 2017. Prior to joining PRI as a full time staff member, she served as an MSW intern with College Initiative in 2015. Additionally, Amy worked for an alternative to incarceration program for youth in NYC. Amy is passionate about building pathways to education for formerly incarcerated individuals. Amy holds a BA in psychology from Hunter College and recently graduated from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College with her MSW.
Wilkey 1Alison Wilkey, Director of Public Policy
Alison joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Policy Director in December 2015. Prior to joining PRI, she worked at Youth Represent as the Director of Policy and Legal Services. In that role, she conducted Youth Represent’s law reform efforts, supervised all attorneys and law students, and directed client representation. Prior to joining Youth Represent in 2008, she worked as a staff attorney at the Criminal Defense Practice of the Legal Aid Society in Manhattan. Ms. Wilkey served on the Board of Directors of the New York County Lawyers’ Association, serving on the Justice Center Advisory Board and numerous other committees. She sat on the Criminal Courts Committee and the Corrections and Community Reentry Committee of the New York City Bar Association. Ms. Wilkey is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, a Charles Evans Hughes Human Rights Fellow, and was awarded the Jerome Michael Jury Cup.
Akia Williams, Academic Counselor at PRIAkia Williams, Academic Counselor
Akia joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as an Academic Counselor in November 2017. Prior to joining the PRI community, she was a College Advisor for a non-profit organization in Harlem, New York. She also comes with experience working for an Alternative to Detention program where she provided support and services to court-involved youth who live throughout New York City. Akia is passionate about helping those from underserved communities identify their strengths so that they can accomplish their goals. Furthermore, Akia is a graduate of The City College of New York where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree in Disability Services in Higher Education at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.
AlexisAlexis Yeboah-Kodie, Program Coordinator
Alexis joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the New York City Justice Corps Program Associate in June 2016. Her primary responsibilities include conducting contract administration and compliance activities, providing technical assistance to program partners, coordinating PRI’s program administration obligations, and researching various reentry issues. Previously, she was a Legislative Intern at the office of Assemblymember Michael A. Blake. Additionally, Alexis also launched the Teen and Police Services (TAPS) Academy in the South Bronx, coordinating an 11-week program that brings together NYPD officers and high school students for training and dialogue. Alexis graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University in May 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Political Science.