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The 2015 Citizens Awards Ceremony



 

Mary Johnson

Citizens Social Action Award

Anisah Sabur

Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil Award for
Spiritual Leadership

Khailil Cumberbatch

Julio Medina Freedom Fighter Award

Victor Pate

Glenn Martin Advocate of the Year Award

Dr. Samuel Arroyo

Kathy Boudin Award for Research and Scholarship

Yolanda Morales

Vivian Denise Nixon Award for Leadership in Education

Mark Graham and


Charles Bryant

William Eric Waters Bridge Builders Award

Ricky Jones

Citizens’ Social Action Award for
Grassroots Activism

 



Citizens Social Action Award

Mary Johnson is currently the Clinical Director of Coming Home at Mount Sinai Hospital/St. Luke’s, where she manages a program related to health care for men and women coming home from incarceration, for the past eight years. Mary is the Associate Director of Our Journey, Inc. that offers monthly spiritual renewal retreats to formerly incarcerated women. Mary also worked as the Director of Reentry Services at the Women’s Prison Association for more than a decade. Mary received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work in 2004 and was named Student of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers for her exemplary work as an advocate and for her dedication to improving the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. Mary served a 15-to-life sentence in prison at the age of 18.



Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil Award for Spiritual Leadership

Anisah Aminah Sabur began her spiritual journey in August 2004 when she was client of the Goodwill Industries Project Caring Com-munity. Upon completion of the program, she began working with the organization as a Peer Advocate. While working for this organization, Anisah was introduced to the Correctional Association of New York by way of their Women in Prison Projects leadership training program (ReConnect). Ms. Sabur completed 12 weeks of legislative advocacy training and became a fierce advocate for change. Anisah continued to volunteer with the Women in Prison Project and advocated with many others to make reforms surrounding the criminal justice system that lead to passage of a number of laws including Adoption and Safe Families Act (helping to save the rights of incarcerated parents) Anti-Shackling Law (this law helped to stop the barbaric practice of shackling women in labor) and also the HIV/HepC oversight Bill (which ensured the proper health care of positive women while incarcerated and beyond). Ms. Sabur became a member of Masjid Sabur in August 2008, where she took a leadership role in reforming the sisterhood alongside the first lady of Masjid Sabur, (the late Hamilah Abdul-Jalil and Sister Jamilah Di-allobe). In 2010, she was delegated to sit on the Masjid Ashura (consultative body) and played an intricate role in leading the sisterhood and Masjid community in fundraising events, community activities, and spiritual guidance. Ms. Sabur then went on to work with the Harlem Community Justice Center’s Parole Reentry Court, where she began as an Americorp Volunteer. She was later hired by the Center for Court Innovation as a Reentry Resource Specialist. In that role, she provided community resource services for individuals returning to the Harlem Community and other NYC boroughs. Ms. Sabur currently works with Women in Prison Project staff as the Project Associate where she advocates for change. Ms. Sabur has many other professional and spiritual accomplishments. She received her AA degree in Human Services and Mental Health and continues to work toward making change in the legislator, her own community, and the community at large.



Julio Medina Freedom Award

Khalil A. Cumberbatch is a formerly incarcerated advocate for social justice movements within the NYC area. He has worked within the reentry community in NYC since 2010 when he was released after serving almost seven years in the NYS prison system. Since his release, Khalil has worked with various non-profits as a service provider, policy analytic, advisor, board member, collaborator, and consultant. Mr. Cumberbatch graduated from CUNY Herbert Lehman College’s MSW program in May 2014 where he was awarded the Urban Justice Award for his work with underserved and marginalized communities that are negatively impacted by mass incarceration as well as high poverty and unemployment rates, lack of access to quality education, and other ineffective social “safety nets.” Mr. Cumberbatch currently serves as Policy Associate for the Legal Action Center, the only non-profit law-and-policy organization in the United States whose sole mission is to fight discrimination against people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, or criminal records, and to advocate for sound public policies in these are-as. Mr. Cumberbatch is Founder and President of Kinetic Solutions, a consultant company that focuses on the assessment, implementation, and management of multiple social media outlets for companies within the NYC area. Mr. Cumberbatch also served as the Communications and Development Manager and periodic guest host for On The Count: The Prison and Criminal Justice Report, a radio program that is exclusively hosted and produced by formerly incarcerated individuals. Mr. Cumberbatch has recently included in the scope of his efforts the perpetual punishment from harsh immigration policies for non-citizens who have criminal justice involvement. Included in this work, he served as the Strategic Initiatives Consultant at Immi-grant Defense Project, a legal impact-litigation non-profit that promotes fundamental fairness for immigrants accused or convicted of crimes by working to transform unjust deportation laws and policies and educating and advising immigrants, their criminal defenders, and other advocates. In December 2014, Mr. Cumberbatch was one of two recipients to receive an Executive Pardon from NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo to prevent his deportation from the United States. Also, Mr. Cumberbatch was selected from over 110 applicants as one of 20 leaders in JustLeadershipUSA’s 2015 Inaugural Leading With Conviction Development Program.



Glenn E. Martin Advocacy Award

Victor Pate Since his release, Mr. Pate has actively sought to be a part of changing the Criminal Injustice System. He has been actively involved and supportive of numerous Criminal Injustice Reform Campaigns including the successful Drop the Rockefeller Drug Law Campaign, DVSJA (Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act), NYS Parole Reform, Decriminalize Marijuana Campaign, Raise the Age, Return TAP to Prisons Campaign, RAPP (Release Aging People in Prison).
In addition to active participation in Reform Campaigns, Mr. Pate victor is a contributing member of: NYSPJN, (New York State Prisoner Justice Net-work Steering Committee, Parole Justice NY, Prisoner Visiting Project Advisory Council, Beyond Attica Coalition, The New Harlem Think Tank, National Action Network NYC Chapter Cabinet Member, Member Of Just leadership USA, Community Service Society Roundtable Group, Chairman NAN NYC Chapter Second Chance Committee, Member and spokesperson for the CAIC (Campaign for Alternatives to Long term Solitary Confinement) Campaign.
Mr. Pate has created a Prisoner Reentry Services Assistance Program under the name of NYC NAN Chapter Second Chance Committee to assist returning citizens, mostly adult men and women, with their reintegration back into society. Mr. Pate has hosted a number of Criminal Justice forums on issues affecting formerly incarcerated people, their families, and communities.
Mr. Pate is currently engaged advocacy around the SAFE Parole Act and CAIC campaigns to change the way the Parole Board evaluates a person’s eligibility for release consideration. He is a strong advocate for the abolishment of solitary confinement in NYS.



Kathy Boudin Award for Research and Scholarship

Samuel Arroyo is a social worker who has dedicated his life to the provision of quality to services to individuals and families affected by diseases and other forms of societal ills. Mr. Arroyo achieved a Certificate in Ministry and Human Services from New York Theological Seminary in 2000. He also holds a Bachelor in Behavioral Sciences from Mercy College. Throughout his undergraduate studies at Mercy College, Mr. Arroyo was on the Dean’s list various semesters, received Department Honors in Behavioral Science, and graduated Magna Cum Laude in May of 2005. Mr. Arroyo commenced his graduate studies at Herbert H. Lehman College in 2007 where he graduated and received his Master of Social Work degree in 2010. In 2012, Mr. Arroyo commenced his doctoral studies at Saint John Fisher College where he engaged in the course work to-wards his Ed. D in Executive Leadership. Mr. Arroyo engaged in qualitative research to explore the implications of post-secondary higher education on formerly incarcerated individuals’ employability and lifestyle changes that led to their desistance from crime. He conducted his research under the direction of Dr. Janice Kelly, dissertation committee Chair, Dr. Gilbert Louis, Dr. Carl Mazza, his executive mentor, and Dr. Damary Marcelina Bonilla Rodriguez, his trailblazer. Mr. Arroyo completed his dissertation titled “An Exploration into the Phenomena Behind Post-secondary Higher Education and Its Implications on Employability, and Constructive Lifestyle Changes Among Formerly Incarcerated Individuals,” and earned his Ed. D in Executive Leadership in May of 2015. Dr. Arroyo’s educational journey led to his development as an executive leader, engaged researcher, and refined scholar.



Vivian Denise Nixon Award for Leadership in Education

Yolanda Morales is the Senior Director of Health and Transitional Services at The Fortune Society. She has been dedicated to the field of reentry since 2003 when she was hired as an entry-level Counselor after being released from federal prison. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Long Island University and is now actively working towards her Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University. In 2013, Yolanda was selected for the Clinton Global Initiative, specifically for the EmPowerHER program in collaboration with Dress for Success Worldwide, supporting formerly incarcerated women. She is also a delegate for New York’s branch of Dress for Success and serves as an Ambassador – referring women to be suited for employment and serving as a mentor for women. Yolanda frequently refers formerly incarcerated individuals to the College Initiative, an organization that creates pathways from criminal justice involvement to college and beyond. Currently, Yolanda oversees the Individualized Corrections Achievement Network (I-CAN) program on Rikers Island – a program recently increased by NYC DOC from $1.4 million to $4 million un-der Yolanda’s leadership. Yolanda leads a team of over 20 staff members delivering crucial services to individuals preparing for release from Rikers Island, helping them focus on their education, employment, and other reentry goals. In July 2015, she was featured in Univision in a segment that emphasized the extraordinary work of the I-CAN program. The interview was conducted in Spanish and reached thousands in the Spanish-speaking community of New York City. Yolanda’s own life story is a living example of what is possible through hard work, dedication, and persistence. She has not only helped thousands served by The Fortune Society, she has also nurtured the professional growth and education many of the formerly incarcerated staff she supervises.



William Eric Waters Bridge Builder Award

Mark Graham served 22 years in the New York State Prison system. He entered prison at 17 without a GED. He was released on October 17, 2001. He returned to society with a Masters’ Degree from New York Theological Seminary. Since his released he worked at Exodus Transitional Community as a Senior case manager, and in 2006, he left Exodus Transitional Community, and in April of 2007, and founded The Redemption Center, Inc., a 501-C-3, that provides Transitional Housing for formerly incarcerated individuals. Since the doors of the redemption center opened, they have been able to provide transitional housing for more than 400 formerly incarcerated individuals with a recidivism rate of less than one percent.



William Eric Waters Bridge Builder Award

Charles Bryant leads The Doe Funds Ready, Willing and Able Day Program as Coordinator. He has a full team of staff who provide services in the area of education, vocational training, resume building, job search aide and paid community improvement projects. Mr. Bryant has been working in social services for over 5 years during which time he’s dedicated to helping men with previous criminal backgrounds become re-acclimated into society. For many years, Mr. Bryant has dedicated himself to programs involving sports with our youth and facilitating transitional programs all aimed at dwarfing the criminal justice recidivism rate. Charles is no stranger to incarceration as he has for many years revolved in the cycle of repeated offenders going back and forth to jail. Before focusing on social services, Mr. Bryant found himself on the wrong side of the law all too often. He grew up in Long Island and Brooklyn in a single parent home with only an older brother and a mother who was chemically dependent. After many years of bad decisions and continuous involvement with the criminal justice system he landed in prison for over 21 years. After being released from prison in March 2009, Mr. Bryant inquired about a program called Ready Willing & Able. There he found the staff and program participants whose mission mirrored his desires to give back to society.
Mr. Bryant is now committed to providing individuals with criminal backgrounds opportunities and resources needed to re-establish themselves back into mainstream society. He serves and equips the men with appropriate tools to be consistent and proactive on their journey back into society.



Citizens’ Social Action Award for Grassroots Activism

After spending more than a decade in prison, Ricky Jones was able to trans-formed his life He is currently host a local radio show called “Unlocked” on WHCR.90.3 FM that airs every Wednesday from 4:00 – 5:00 PM where he dis-cuss issues related to the criminal justice system. He earned a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from Long Island University and a master’s degree in Theology from New York Theological Seminary. He received his bachelors from St. John’s University and has completed the Management Alternative Training Program offered by NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. He is a certified paralegal and has done training for senior law enforcement (in philosophy and collaborative problem solving), the Board of Education, NYC Housing Partnership Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Jones is also a faculty member of two private colleges where he provides instruction related to philosophy, psychology and African History.



Sponsored by

The  Gibbons Family Foundation

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2015 Honorees