JustLeadershipUSA Partners with Columbia University to Launch Leading with Conviction Program
Date:  01-29-2015

Formerly incarcerated people with leadership skills should be given “seat at the table” to implement reform policies
For Immediate Release:


Highly competitive “Leading with Conviction” program for formerly incarcerated community leaders brings those most affected by the criminal justice system to the forefront of advocacy and policy reform with the goal of mass decarceration

CONTACT: Robin Jenkins, Robin@justleadershipusa.org, (646) 201-6075

WEBSITE: www.JustLeadershipUSA.org

(January 27, 2015 – New York, NY) – Twenty formerly incarcerated advocates from across the US gathered at Columbia University Law School this weekend for JustLeadershipUSA’s inaugural “Leading with Conviction” training. This 12-month program is groundbreaking, focusing on mid-senior level leaders from social service, corporate, and government agencies. The leaders hail from 13 states and represent all 4 regions of the US. This weekend, the 2015 “Leading with Conviction” cohort began to hone the skills necessary to lead advocacy campaigns in their respective communities and regions toward ending mass incarceration.

JustLeadershipUSA’s audacious goal is to cut the US prison population in half by 2030, and leadership by people who have served time in prison is core to its approach to reform. With the help of these leaders, JLUSA aims to make ‘decarceration’ a household word. JustLeadershipUSA Founder Glenn E. Martin said, “Through investing in the talent, leadership, and vision of formerly incarcerated men and women all over the country, JustLeadershipUSA is tirelessly devoted to achieving a tipping point in criminal justice reform.”

Through culturally competent leadership development trainings, JLUSA intends to create a nationwide network of leaders united through a shared vision for criminal justice reform. The “Leading with Conviction” program’s curriculum is based on the core principles of adult learning theory, and was informed by interviews with formerly incarcerated leaders from across the country. Highly trained facilitator David Mensah, who has a long history of elevating leaders, guided the training weekend as JLUSA’s Director of Leadership Cultivation.

Highlights of the launch program were guest-speaking engagements by Legal Action Center, The Opportunity Agenda, and the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia University School of Law. Leaders took part in peer coaching activities, network mapping, 360° assessments, storytelling and communications exercises, and advocacy workshops over the course of three days, working closely with each other while building the strength of their cohort.

Martin explained the importance of the program: “One might expect that those leading the charge for reform would represent the population most affected by the juvenile and criminal justice system. However, a cursory look at mainstream commentary and political action shows that the dominant discourse nearly always excludes those directly impacted. No longer can those closest to the problem lack a seat at the table. Our country will be fit to achieve true reform when these voices have been heard and their expertise infused into the national conversation.”

To amplify the voices of the formerly incarcerated, JLUSA has developed a rigorous training program: over the next 12 months, JustLeadershipUSA’s 2015 cohort will work together to expand their skill sets in leadership, advocacy, and communications. The cohort will convene four more times in NYC throughout 2015, building a leadership community that fosters ongoing development long after training is complete. In future years, this training will be held in communities across the country.

*** About JustLeadershipUSA: JustLeadershipUSA is dedicated to cutting the US prison population in half by 2030 while reducing crime, and empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Four critical areas support the organization’s theory of change: leadership development, advocacy, membership, and PR/communications. www.justleadershipusa.org.

About the Founder: Glenn Martin, Founder and Chief Risk Taker of JustLeadershipUSA, is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent 6 years in New York State prisons. He founded JustLeadershipUSA on the principle that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.

Robin E. Jenkins, Director of Growth and Momentum JustLeadershipUSA www.justleadershipusa.org

T: @JustLeadersUSA P: 646.201.6075