2017 Awards Ceremony


Keynote Speaker: David Rothenberg,

Founder of the Fortune Society


Paul Wright is the founder and Executive Director of the Human Rights Defense Center. He is also editor of Prison Legal News (PLN), the longest-running independent prisoner rights publication in U.S. history. He has co-authored three PLN anthologies: The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry (Common Courage, 1998); Prison Nation: The Warehousing of Americas Poor (Routledge, 2003); and Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Imprisonment (New Press, 2008). His articles have appeared in over 80 publications, ranging from Counterpunch to USA Today. A former prisoner, Paul was imprisoned for 17 years in Washington state until his release in 2003. During and since his incarceration he has successfully litigated a wide variety of censorship and public records cases against prison systems around the country, both as a pro se plaintiff and on behalf of PLN. Paul is a former military policeman, a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Soviet History, and the former National Lawyers Guild Jailhouse Lawyer co-vice president (1995-2008). He is a 2005 Petra Fellow, the Freedom Fighter of the Month for High Times magazine in July 2006, a 2007 recipient of the James Madison Award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government, the 2008 inaugural recipient of the National Lawyers Guild’s Arthur Kinoy award, and a 2011 recipient of the Distinguished Public Interest Service Award from the City of New York Law School.

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Ivelisse Gilestra graduated from Rutgers as NJSTEP/MVC member with a bachelor’s degree in social work and sociology receiving outstanding academic achievement awards. She actively participates as a panelist in discussions related to mass incarceration and policies which are not conducive to an effective transition. She continuously advocates on issues of accessibility to higher education for people with justice-involvement.
Participated in the dialogue with the United States Secretary of Education, John B. King at the Second Chance Pell Convening in Washington. She is committed in changing the narrative which normalizes the prison industrial complex in communities of color, advocating for kids at risk and envisioning effective and humane ways of serving justice. Currently works for College and Community Fellowship in New York as a Mentoring/Policy program assistant.


DeAnna Hoskins is the Senior Policy Advisor (Corrections/Reentry) for the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance division. Ms. Hoskins oversees the Second Chance portfolio, represents BJA’s interest and priorities through various partnerships and collaborations, she also serves as the Interim Deputy Director of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council.

She has spent over 17 years working in criminal justice positions of increasing responsibility. Prior to her appointment Ms. Hoskins was the founding Director for the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners, Office of Reentry. She has spent time as a Program Administrator for the Indiana Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives and served as a Case Coordinator with the Indiana Department of Corrections.

Hoskins is originally from Cincinnati, OH holds a masters’ degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. A Bachelors of Social Work from the College of Mount St. Joseph. She is a certified Offender Workforce Development Specialist trainer, an Offender Employment Specialist, a Peer Recovery Coach, trained as a Community Health Worker and a 2016 JustLeadership USA fellow.

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Louis L. Reed is the Principle Manager of Louis L. Reed Empowerment Group. His empowerment group specializes in life coaching, addictions recovery support, offender reentry management, executive coaching, and relationship counseling. He is also the Executive Director of Vision of Purpose, a social justice organization, based in Connecticut. No stranger to urban issues that range from criminal activity to barriers related to ex-offenders reentering society, Louis was indicted by the United States government in 2000 and sentenced to nearly 16 years in federal prison.

Today, Louis is a Forbes ® Coaches Council member, an in-demand conference speaker and sought-after thought leader on topics that include reentry affairs, recovery support, spiritual empowerment, and crime intervention, as appeared on C-SPAN, MSNBC, in The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NY Times and other publications. Louis has also consulted for the White House, Fortune 100 Corporations, state and federal agencies, and is a 2017 JUST Leadership USA fellow.

He is the Indie Author Legacy Author of the Year winner for his bestselling empowerment book: 9 Steps to Fall UP When You Trip DOWN: Converting Mistakes into Miracles. Louis was appointed as the reentry director for the City of Bridgeport, and is a licensed alcohol & addictions practitioner in the greater New York City area.

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Richard Smith is an academic activist with nearly two decades of experience developing and implementing community-based programs for disadvantaged populations. He has developed reentry programs for returning citizens at both the Center for Law and Justice and Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities TASC in Albany, New York. Richard has worked with youth and adults impacted by the criminal justice system as both a case manager and program director in New York’s Capital District and the City of Boston. Richard has taught criminal justice, history, and social work courses as an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Empire State College, Sage College and LIU Brooklyn. He has guest lectured at numerous colleges and universities on issues such as systemic racism, mass incarceration, and trauma and healing. He is presently a doctoral candidate at SUNY Albany’s School of Social Welfare. His research focus is male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Richard is currently the National Director of HealingWorks, a national learning collaborative that amplifies the work of non-traditional victim service providers offering healing support to young men of color who have been harmed by violence, and their communities. He founded RichardSmithSpeaks Inc., a public speaking platform designed to educate, heal, and empower. Richard is a 2017 JLUSA Leading with Conviction Fellow. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University at Albany in Africana Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree from Boston University in Sociology. He is the proud father of two sons, Kaden (4 years.) and Kaleb (6 years).

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Darren Mack is a social justice advocate and activist. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Darren was directly impacted by the criminal justice system at the age of 17. His first time in the prison system, he served a total of 20 years straight. During his incarceration, Darren was accepted into Bard
College’s Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) where he earned his B.A. degree in Social
Studies in 2013.

Since his release Darren has been involved with the CUNY Black Male Initiative at City College mentoring and tutoring students. He also became a member of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition (E.I.O. Coalition) working to remove statutory and practical educational barriers for individuals impacted by the justice system. He advocated in front of the Black and Latino Caucus to push legislation to the ban the box and in front of the SUNY Board of Directors, which in 2016 decided to ban the box in all SUNY campuses. Darren is an active member of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) and their Close Rikers campaign. His experience on Rikers Island was covered by Mass Story Lab at the New School and other periodicals. He was honored in 2016 to be an Emerging Leader recipient from JLUSA and a 2016- 2017 fellow at the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Community Organizing Institute. He worked as a Project Coordinator for the Beyond the Bars Fellowship in The Center for Justice at Columbia University. Darren is now a full time student pursuing a MSW in Community Organizing, Leadership, and Development at
Hunter College.

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Sam Rivera has over 25 years of progressive experience in the social services field. His primary focus of expertise lies in criminal justice reform, reentry, HIV/AIDS advocacy, addiction/recovery and mental health treatment. Sam has worked in NYC, DC, and with over 20 jurisdictions throughout the country,
including the ten most impacted by mass incarceration. Sam believes in providing services in a holistic manner, focusing on the wellness of all individuals. Sam is currently the Associate Vice President of
Housing at The Fortune Society working to ensure people impacted by the justice system have a safe, stable, and caring place to live as they heal from the trauma of incarceration and grow as thriving members of the community.

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Terrance Coffie is a 2017 graduate of New York University’s, Silver School of Social-Work, where he earned his Master’s Degree in the field of Social-Work with a concentration in Policy. Terrance is currently employed at The Doe Fund where he is employed as the PR Coordinator. During his tenure at NYU, Terrance interned at the
prestigious McSilver Institute for Research and Policy. Terrance was named the 2017 Excellence in Leadership’s Award Recipient, as well as the 2017 NASW-NYC Alex Rosen Student of The Award Recipient. In 2016, Terrance was also recognized as NYU’s President’s Service Award Recipient & Excellence in Leadership Award Recipient for his development of the College Pathways Program, which assists young men of color and the formerly incarcerated in obtaining higher educational opportunities. In 2016, he founded Educate Don’t Incarcerate; an organization which focuses on mentorship for young men of color and the formerly incarcerated in pursuing
higher educational opportunities.