Staff

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.
Lena Campagna, Development and Communications Coordinator
Lena joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Development and Communications Coordinator in January 2017. She is responsible for PRI’s external fundraising efforts and communications initiatives. Lena has extensive experience working on projects related to criminal justice and mental health in the Greater Boston Area. Lena’s previous professional and research experience includes project coordination, qualitative research, and evaluation research with multiple stakeholders such as the Department of Youth Services, University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. Lena recently finished her PhD in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a concentration in communities and crime. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Communications from Emerson College.
Elizabeth Renée Davis, Operations Associate
Elizabeth joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Operations 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 & contracts, 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.
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.
10_25_16_pri_jjay_portrait_headshot_c_arpi_pap-1017Jan Holland, Project Director
Jan joined as Project Director for PRI’s Statewide College-in-Prison Initiatives in September 2016. Jan is responsible for overseeing two statewide initiatives aimed at exploring and expanding higher education in New York prisons. The first of these projects will employ action research to document the landscape of in-prison higher education programs in New York State, while the second focuses on providing technical support for the seven in-prison college programs selected as grantees of the District Attorney of New York’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. Jan has an extensive background in non-government criminal justice work. Prior to joining PRI Jan served for five years as a full-time faculty member at SUNY Ulster Community College. She has also taught as an adjunct instructor at John Jay College since 2000. During her time as the Director of Research at Family Justice Inc., she worked to develop entrepreneurial approaches to improving prisoner reentry policy and practice. She has also served as a research associate at the Columbia University’s Center for Violence Research and Prevention and at John Jay College. Jan holds a BA in Criminal Justice and MPA, and is currently a doctoral student in Education Administration and Policy Studies at SUNY Albany.
Jensen 1Jessica Jensen, Coordinator of Academic Counseling and Mentoring
Jessica joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute in July 2015 as the Coordinator of Academic Counseling and Mentoring. Previously, she worked as a SEEK Department Academic Counselor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. There she also taught the freshman seminar, “Education and Justice,” which examined the relationship between the public education system and social justice movements in the United States. Jessica holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and an MSW from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, where she focused on Community Organizing.
Zoe Johnson, Program Associate
Zoë joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the New York City Justice Corps 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 provides oversight for a variety of strategic administrative, programmatic and operational matters as well as ensures sound financial and contractual management of the Institute. She works to strengthen the Institute’s infrastructure as it enters its second decade, serves as a strategic thinking partner and confidant for the Director, collaborates with program managers to coordinate program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, oversees implementation of new programs and special projects, oversees all aspects of finance, operations and human resources with an eye toward continuously developing and improving systems. Daonese has twelve years of experience in higher education administration within the CUNY system. Before joining our team, she 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.
Ebony Maher, Academic Counselor
Ebony joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as an Academic Counselor in February of 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 Associate Franderis joined the Prison Reentry Institute as the Program Associate for Statewide Higher Education Initiatives in December 2016. She provides programmatic support on the Statewide Higher Education Mapping Project and the District Attorney of New York’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative project. 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.
img_8357Tenisha Morrison, Program Associate Tenisha joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Program Associate for Educational Initiatives in September 2016. She is responsible for providing core logistical support to all Educational Initiatives programs and special projects. Before joining PRI, Tenisha worked at the Correctional Association of New York managing their youth leadership program, Safe Passages, where she trained system-involved LGBTQ young people to be agents for change. Her experience also includes mentoring at-risk youth, serving as a consultant for partner organizations, and facilitating workshops and trainings on youth engagement. Tenisha is a strong advocate for justice reform and worked on the Raise the Age campaign to increase the age of criminal responsibility for young people in the system. Tenisha earned her BA in Anthropology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she is an alumnus of both the Pinkerton Fellowship Initiative and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation.
Pognon 1Melissa Pognon-Shillingford, Director of Fellowship Initiatives
Melissa joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Project Coordinator of the Pinkerton Fellowship Initiative (PFI) in June 2012. She is responsible for developing and administering the Pinkerton Fellowship Initiative, the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship and the David Rockefeller Fund Fellowship. Before joining our team, she worked at the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern University where one of her projects was to develop and manage music mentorship programs for incarcerated young men at Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Melissa graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. She went on to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was a Davis-Putter Peace and Justice Scholar and earned a joint Master’s degree in Human and Community Development and Urban and Regional Planning.
Quintana 1Carlos Quintana, College Initiative Program Coordinator
Carlos joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute in January 2016 as the College Initiative Program Coordinator. 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.
Rafael Rodriguez, Program Associate
Rafael joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) as a Program Associate of the Fellowship Initiative in January 2017, providing programmatic support to PRI’s fellowship initiatives. The Program Associate, under the supervision of the Director of Fellowship Initiatives, 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, he 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.
Katie 1Katherine Schaffer, Prison-to-College Pipeline Program Coordinator
Katie first joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute in November 2014 as a Curriculum Developer and Instructor for the College Readiness Course at Queensboro Correctional Facility. In January 2016, she joined the full-time staff of PRI as the Program Coordinator for the Prison-to-College Pipeline. In this capacity, she oversees PRI’s in-prison college access work. She also teaches a biweekly College Strategies class and creates institutional and interpersonal supports for students as they transition from college in prison to college in the community. She comes to this work through CUNY Start, a transitional program that provides academic support to students who wish to attend CUNY community colleges. She also shows up as an activist and organizer. Katie is a board member of the Third Wave Fund, an organization which supports and builds capacity for groups fighting for gender justice, and a member of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice working with Communities United for Police Reform. In addition to her work with PRI, Katie writes and runs workshops for educators and families about gender and sexuality in early childhood at the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute.
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.
van Heydoorn 1Bianca 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.
Wilkey 1Alison Wilkey, Director of Public Policy
Alison joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) 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.
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.