Artspace presented “Arresting Patterns,” on September 12 & 13, 2015. It was a free, two day interdisciplinary conference that aimed to promote discussion on the interplay of race, criminal justice, artistic expression, and community. Artists, policymakers, scholars, and activists addressed urgent questions raised by the companion exhibition, also titled Arresting Patterns, as well as the artwork created by participants in Artspace’s 15th annual Summer Apprenticeship Program. The discussions explored the direct and collateral consequences of mass incarceration on the community and the individual, criminal stereotypes, and the role that artistic expression can play in addressing these issues. The conference was cosponsored by the Yale University Art Gallery and takes place in the Gallery’s lecture hall.
Click here to view the conference program book which contains speaker bios, schedules & more.
This video from Saturday, September 12 includes the following panels:
- “Race in the Media” Panel is at 8:15
- Community Forum/Round Table is at 1:31:30
This video from Sunday, September 13 includes the following panels:
- Panel 2: “Differing Perspectives on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System” is at 9:30
- Panel 3: “Stigma and Mercy” is at 1:11:30
- Student Performance is at 3:40:30
- Panel 4: “Family Matters: The Unintended Effects of Incarceration on the Families of Prisoners” is at 4:46:15
- Panel 5: “Decarcerating America” is at 5:58:3
Artspace is grateful to receive exhibition and project support from The Andy Warhol Foundation, City of New Haven Office Arts, Culture, Tourism, Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, Connecticut Humanities Council, Connecticut Office of the Arts, JANA Foundation, Seymour Lustman Memorial Fund, the Tow Foundation, the Surdna Foundation’s Artists Engaging in Social Change program, and Yale’s President Public Service Fellowship. ale University Art Gallery is generously co-sponsoring the Closing Conference, Arresting Patterns: perspectives on race, criminal justice, artistic expression, and community, on September 12 & 13 at Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel Street.
Clint Smith believes we all share a story, the human story. It’s in the telling, he believes, that we emerge as individuals and celebrate what we have in common. His TED Talk, a presentation of his spoken word poem, The Danger of Silence, has been viewed more than two million times, and was named one of the Top 20 TED Talks of 2014. Using his experience as an award-winning teacher and poet to share personal stories of justice, community, and education, his unique art-form illuminates how we can all find the courage to create change, overcome challenges, and unite ourselves through the power of the collective voice. Clint is a teacher, poet, and doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University with a concentration in Culture, Institutions, and Society (CIS). He serves as a resident teaching artist in Boston Public Schools and as a writing instructor at Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk, MA. Previously, he taught high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland and served as a public health worker in Soweto, South Africa. His research interests include critical pedagogy, mass incarceration, the intersection of art and activism, how literacy shapes the formation of adolescent identity, and youth civic education.
In 2013, Clint was named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council. He has spoken at the U.S. Department of Education; the IB Conference of the Americas; the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; and has been featured on TED.com, Upworthy, and TVOne’s Verses and Flow. Additionally, he has been profiled in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Root, NBC News and the book, American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom. As a poet, Clint is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Finalist, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State conducting international workshops on cross-cultural understanding and youth empowerment.Clint earned a BA in English from Davidson College and is an alumnus of the New Orleans Public School System.
Sabir Abdussabur is the President and Founder of Youth Day Projects, the Director and Founder of The Youth Revolution: International Youth Development President, and the Co-Founder of Masked Maniacs. He grew up in the Beaver Hills, and still resides in New Haven today.
Shafiq R. Fulcher Abdussabur is an Author, Public Speaker, Racial Profiling Consultant, Entrepreneur & law enforcement officer who’s unique approach and concepts to urban violence prevention and community based policing have been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, NPR-Where We Live, New Haven Independent, NPR-All Things Considered, WYBC-Electric Drum, New Haven Advocate, Russian Radio, BBC, PBS, New York Daily News, Hartford Courant, and Al Jazeera America.
Nationally, Shafiq is considered the foremost leading expert on urban gun violence prevention due to his unique approaches to community based policing as a key resource to urban violence prevention. On Sunday, September 13 (5-7pm), Shafiq will present his original work as part of the Poetry Reading at Artspace.
Ifeanyi Awachie is a Nigerian-American writer. She studied English at Yale, where she was Artistic Director of TEETH, Yale’s slam poetry team. Ifeanyi also works as a photographer and Curator ofAFRICA SALON. On Sunday, September 13 (5-7pm), Ifeanyi will present her original work as a part of the Poetry Reading at Artspace.
Courtney Baker is Director of Africana Studies and Associate Professor in the department of English at Connecticut College. She teaches courses in visual culture, critical theory, film, and African-American literature. She obtained her Ph.D. from Duke University and her B.A. from Harvard University. She has published reviews in the journal Art Papers, and her book, Humane Insight: Looking at Images of African American Suffering and Death, will be published by University of Illinois Press in September of 2015.
R. Dwayne Betts’s first collection of poems, Shahid Reads His Own Palm, won the Beatrice Hawley Award. His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, was the recipient of the 2010 NAACP Image Award for non-fiction. Betts’s work has also led to a Soros Justice Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and two Pushcart Prizes. Currently a Yale Law student, Betts was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in 2012. He is a graduate of the MFA Program at Warren Wilson College, the University of Maryland, and Prince George’s Community College. On Sunday, September 13 (5-7pm), Dwayne will present his original work as a part of the Poetry Reading at Artspace.
Donald Braman is Associate Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. Prior to joining the faculty, he was the Irving S. Ribicoff Fellow at the Yale Law School. His article “Punishment and Accountability,” was published by the UCLA Law Review in 2006. Professor Braman teaches Criminal Law and Evidence.
George Chochos is a 3rd-year graduate student at Yale Divinity School, and associate minister of Union Missionary Baptist Church. George spent 11 1/2 years in NYS’s prison system where he earned bachelor degrees from Bard College and Thomas Edison State College and a master degree from New York Theological Seminary, which is the nation’s only professional master’s degree programs in a correctional institution, offered at the infamous Sing Sing Prison. Upon release in 2011, George has served as chaplain and assistant director of operations at the Capital City Rescue Mission, served on the board of Club Zoe, Inc. (a nonprofit offering programs for youth in the most impoverished section of Albany, NY), mentored at-risk youth, and collaborated with Albany’s District Attorney David Soares on youth program development. Since attending Yale in 2013 (as the first NYS parolee to transfer to another state for higher education), George has also worked as case manager for Project Longevity, which seeks to reduce gun violence in the city of New Haven, and at Believe in Me Empowerment Corporation’s summer Reading for Reading Program for Children with Incarcerated Parents. He plans on pursuing a Ph.D. and use his education and experience to address social problems plaguing our urban cores. George has been a guest on WNPR’s Where We Live and his story was featured both in an award-winning article in the New Haven Register, entitled “From Jail to Yale,” and in the Harvard Political Review.
Matt Croasmun is Lecturer of Theology & Humanities at Yale University and Director of Research & Publication at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University and a M.A.R. in Bible from the Yale Divinity School. Matt is an ordained minister and currently serves as Staff Pastor at the Elm City Vineyard Church, a multiethnic church in downtown New Haven that he and his wife planted in 2007. His first book, The Emergence of Sin (Oxford University Press, 2016) describes the ways that complex social structures contrive to mask and reinforce our participation in their distorted moral reasoning.
Sean Dalpiaz is a Training Specialist for SCO Family of Services, the leading provider of human services in New York, with 95 programs in 115 locations in New York City and Long Island. Over the past five years, Sean has worked with adolescents under the care of NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services. Before training, he was a part of the historic juvenile justice initiative Close to Home.
Since his release in January of 2010, Sean has drawn on the insight of eight consecutive years of direct experience with the criminal justice system to affect change, shift perceptions and advocate for others affected by mass incarceration. He has spoken at the University of New Haven, Manhattanville College, Urban Justice Center, and the PEN American Center, and is a member of Commissioner Joseph Ponte’s Strategic Adolescent Advisory Board. In addition to completing his Associate’s Degree while incarcerated, Sean has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master in Public Administration.
John DeCarlo is an associate professor at the University of New Haven’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences. Previously, he was an associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He served as a police officer for 34 years, including as Chief of Police in Branford, Connecticut.
Barbara Fair, advocate for criminal justice and prison reform, is the founder of My Brother’s Keeper, whose mission is to educate the community about policies that impact their lives, inspire them to become involved in the the policy making process as well as educate policy makers of the impact of their decisions on the lives of the marginalized in our communities. Among her projects, she has been particularly concerned with the high cost of prisoners phone calls, the harm caused by solitary confinement, the criminalization of our youth and other juvenile justice issues including “Raise the Age legislation. She played a leading role in ending Connecticut’s policy of transferring prisoners out of state. Co- chaired the establishment of New Haven’s Juvenile Review Board where she now serves on the advisory board. She is a member of New Haven’s regional ACLU and is newly elected to New Haven’s police and community task force where representatives of the community and police officials will work together to improve policing in the city through relationship building. Fair is the former host of a community television show , Reclaiming Our Community, which aired for more than 7 years. Fair, who is a lifelong resident of New Haven, has a Masters in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University.
Sarah Fritchey is a curator and writer based in New Haven. She is Curator and Gallery Director at Artspace, as well as a contributor to Artforum.com, Art New England Magazine, Big Red & Shiny, Artscope Magazine, and The Hartford Advocate. Fritchey received an MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and a BA in Comparative Literature from Hamilton College. Her recent exhibitions include Arresting Patterns, a group show that visualizes patterns of racial bias in the US criminal justice system, Gollum: Monsters of Ruin and the Techno-Sublime, a show that rethinks the singular self as mutable “selves”, and Vertical Reach, an exhibition of art from Eastern Europe and the US that explores how protest, assembly, and collectivity operate as artistic practice.
Born in Chicago, Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist. Her artistic practice negotiates matters of space and power. Using installation, sculpture, performance, community- engagement practices, and audio, she examines contested geographies, such as oppressive architectures within public space to create new social codes. Her collaborative work identifies spaces of ambiguity and tension to produce artistic projects that are generative and uses pedagogy that draws from community-based participation and scholarship. Gaspar’s community art practice includes developing major projects, such as City As Site (2010) and a current series of community-engaged site-responsive actions, 96 Acres, which negotiates the Cook County Jail’s impact on communities of color and that explore the social and political body through long-term processes. She has presented her work at The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Jane Addams Hull House Museum, the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, and the Alpineum Produzentengalerie, amongst others. She received a Sor Juana Young Visionary Award from the National Museum of Mexican Art for her artistic work in 2008. Recently, Gaspar was awarded a prestigious Creative Capital Award for a sound project and upcoming residencies at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago and Project Row Houses in Houston. She was featured in the Chicago Tribune as Chicagoan of the Year in the Visual Arts in 2014. She is an Assistant Professor in Contemporary Practices, Performance, and Art Education at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Clifton E. Graves Jr. moved with his family to New Haven in 1969, when he was a teenager. After graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Political Science and Georgetown University Law Center, Graves served as a deputy corporation counsel for New Haven. Also a former lawyer for the Housing Authority, Graves has served on the board of the Greater New Haven NAACP and as vice president of Amistad America, an educational nonprofit. He served 12 years as director of multicultural affairs at Southern Connecticut State University and eight years on the city’s Commission on Equal Opportunity. He has taught sociology and African American history at Gateway Community College. He ran for Mayor of New Haven in 2012 and is currently leading the City of New Haven’s Prison Re-Entry program.
Mark Holden serves as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Koch Industries, Inc. He is also president and COO of the Legal Division of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, which provides legal, government and public affairs services to Koch Industries, Inc. and its affiliates. In addition, he also serves as Chairman of the Board of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Inc. and serves on the Board of Directors of Americans For Prosperity. Mr. Holden began his career with Koch Industries in 1995 as a litigation attorney, and was vice president and general counsel for litigation and compliance. He has worked with the various Koch companies on a variety of litigation, regulatory, compliance, and commercial issues. Before joining Koch, Mr. Holden was an associate with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C.
Giselle Jacobs, US Army Veteran and lifelong resident of Hartford is the Founder and Executive Director of Children of ColorOrganization, Inc. After working several years as an AdministrativeAssistant and Target Balance Analyst in the banking industry, Mrs. Jacobsdecided to follow her heart’s desire, which is to serve her community and make a difference in the lives of others. Mrs. Jacobs has worked for several community organizations including the Center for Human Development-Connecticut Outreach as a Financial Counselor where she provided money management services to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and their Hartford Young Adult Services Program. She is currently running for Mayor for the City of Hartford.
Aaron Jafferis of Collective Consciousness Theatre is a hip-hop poet and playwright who received his MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU. He teaches poetry and hip-hop theatre in schools, hospitals, health centers, community organizations, and detention centers in his hometown of New Haven, CT. On Sunday, September 13 (5-7pm), Aaron will present his original work as a part of the Poetry Reading at Artspace.
Titus Kaphar was born in 1976 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He currently lives and works between New York and Connecticut. His artworks interact with the history of art by appropriating its styles and mediums.
Kaphar says of his work: “I’ve always been fascinated by history: art history, American history, world history, individual history – how history is written, recorded, distorted, exploited, reimagined, and understood. In my work I explore the materiality of reconstructive history. I paint and I sculpt, often borrowing from the historical canon, and then alter the work in some way. I cut, crumple, shroud, shred, stitch, tar, twist, bind, erase, break, tear, and turn the paintings and sculptures I create, reconfiguring them into works that nod to hidden narratives and begin to reveal unspoken truths about the nature of history. Open areas become active absences, walls enter into the portraits, stretcher bars are exposed, and structures that are typically invisible underneath, behind, or inside the canvas are laid bare, revealing the interiors of the work. In so doing, my aim is to perform what I critique, to reveal something of what has been lost, and to investigate the power of a rewritten history.”
Kaphar received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and the distinguished recipient of the Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Fellowship. His work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY and the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA. His work is included in the collections of the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT, the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY. In late 2014, TIME magazine commissioned Kaphar to create an artwork in response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Helen Kauder is Executive Director of Artspace. After serving in senior positions in investment banking and business development at Citicorp and Yale University for 15 years, she co-founded City-Wide Open Studios in 1998. She has produced the annual festival for 15 of its past 18 years and organized other large-scale, participatory arts projects that mobilize the region’s diverse communities. She previously served as Deputy Director of the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. She has been a grant panelist for the NEA and IMLS, and served on the City of New Haven’s Cultural Affairs Commission. She is the recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Mahaffey Arts Fellowship and the Greater New Haven Arts Council annual arts award. She holds a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Josh Kovner is a news reporter with over 30 years of experience. He covers issues relating to health, safety, and criminal justice in Connecticut. He was a member of the Hartford Courant’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage team on the 1998 Connecticut lottery killings, as well as a member of theCourant’s Pulitzer- finalist team for cover- age of the Sandy Hook school shootings. Kovner writes a blog called Oversight.
Iyaba Ibo Mandingo is painter, poet, writer, actor and playwright – is a native of Antigua, West Indies, who came to the United States in 1980 as a young boy. His earliest exposures to the arts were through his mother, a professional singer, and his grandparents, a tailor and a seamstress who first introduced him to colors and patterns, paving a path to the many ways of expression: drawing, painting, sculpting, writing and performing. Iyaba studied fine arts at Southern Connecticut State University and today teaches in and around the tristate area as a Master Teaching Artist.
He appears regularly as a performance poet in venues across the United States and abroad, including Nuyorican Poetry Café, Brooklyn Moon, and Next Door Café among others in the NY area and was the keynote performer at the 2011 Westchester, NY Poetry Festival. Iyaba was awarded a national Percent for the Arts Program artist grant, as well as grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and multiple commendations from the Nassau County African American Museum. His artwork has been included in group and individual shows in the United States and internationally, most recently at the Culture Project, NYC and a exhibition of his latest work “Letting Go” at The Pump House Gallery in Hartford CT. On Sunday, September 13 (5-7pm), Iyaba will present his original work as a part of the Poetry Reading at Artspace.
Glenn E. Martin is the Founder and President of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Glenn is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in New York State prisons. Prior to founding JLUSA, Glenn served for seven years as Vice President of Development and Public Affairs at The Fortune Society, one of the most respected reentry organizations in the country and six years as Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center.
Glenn is Co-Founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, a 2014 Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Fellow, a 2012 America’s Leaders of Change National Urban Fellow, and a member of the governing boards of the College and Community Fellowship, Prisoners’ Legal Services, the Petey Greene Program, the Reset Foundation, the New York Foundation, and California Partnership for Safe Communities. Glenn also serves on Governor Cuomo’s Reentry and Reintegration Council, the advisory board of the Vera Institute’s Public Health and Mass Incarceration Initiative, the National Network for Safe Communities and the Executive Session on Community Corrections at Harvard Kennedy School. Glenn regularly contributes his expertise to national news outlets such as MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Al Jazeera and CSPAN on topics such as policing, decarceration, alternatives to incarceration, and reentry issues.
Kenya (Robinson) is a past resident of LMCC’s WorkSpace Program, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture and The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art. Her work has been exhibited at MoCADA, BAM and the 60 Wall Street Gallery of Deutsche Bank. Along with features in the New York Times, BombLog and The International Review of African American Art, she has performed at Rush Arts Gallery, MoMA PS1, The Kitchen, and MoMA (NYC). Commemorative Headdress of Her Journey Beyond Heaven was acquired for the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in 2014. She is a contributor to The Huffington Post, and earned her MFA from the School of Art at Yale University.
Professor Linda Ross Meyer, Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D., Ph.D University of California, Berkeley, teaches in the areas of criminal law, sentencing, and jurisprudence. She is the author of The Justice of Mercy (Michigan Univ. Press, 2010), and numerous articles on punishment theory and law and philosophy. She is the former president of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, an associate editor of the journal Law, Culture, and the Humanities, and a member of the board of the Malta Criminal Justice Institute, a bipartisan effort to educate communities in Connecticut about criminal justice reform. In addition to teaching at the law school, she sometimes teaches undergraduate courses at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut and at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
Leland J. Moore is an Attorney and a Research and Policy Associate at the Connecticut Sentencing Commission. In addition, Leland also serves on the American Bar Association Lawyer’s Conference Executive Committee and the Connecticut Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Section Executive Committee. Leland received his J.D. from Quinnipiac University School of Law cum laude with a certificate in Criminal Law and Advocacy.
Frances Robles is an award-winning national and foreign correspondent for the New York Times. Her investigation into the shoddy detective work of a Brooklyn homicide detective led six murder convictions to be overturned and won a 2014 George Polk award. Her coverage of social justice issues has taken her from Ferguson, Mo. to Sanford Florida and Charleston, S.C. to Latin America. She previously worked at the Miami Herald, where she specialized in coverage of Cuba. Robles has been a member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams and was a finalist for two more. A native New Yorker who graduated from NYU, she was a 2004-2005 John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford
Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward. His art has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA PS1, the Walker Art Center, and at the Pori Art Museum in Finland. In 2012, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) presented his performance Dread Scott: Decision. He is a recipient of a Creative Capital Foundation grant, a Pollock-Krasner grant and Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts. His work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum and the Arkon Art Museum. He works in a range of media including installation, photography, screen printing, video and performance. On Sunday, September 13 (5-7pm), Dread will present his original work as a part of the Poetry Reading at Artspace.
Commissioner Scott Semple joined the Connecticut Department of Correction as a front line Correction Officer in 1988 at the high security Cheshire Correctional Institution. While working up the ranks, he has held key positions within the agency including a supervisor at the training academy, the agency’s spokesperson, and the Legislative Liaison for the department. In 2004, Commissioner Semple was assigned to the Garner Correctional Institution where he fulfilled a critical role in establishing the agency’s first consolidated environment for male offenders with significant mental health needs. He would later serve as the Unit Administrator/Warden at that same facility. In November of 2013, then Commissioner James E. Dzurenda appointed Scott Semple as the Deputy Commissioner of Operations and Rehabilitative Services. Less than one year later, with the retirement of Commissioner Dzurenda in August of 2014, Scott Semple was chosen to serve as the Interim Commissioner for the agency. On March 10, 2015, a Senate resolution unanimously passed consent on the appointment of Scott Semple as Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Correction.
Susan Shah, JD, MPH has dedicated her career to improving the lives of those who are vulnerable and marginalized by laws, policies, and inadequate services. As chief of staff, she works to advance Vera’s strategic direction and align organizational performance to support vitality and growth. A member of Vera’s leadership team, Susan acts as a liaison to Vera’s executive director to problem solve and review project concepts and ideas for investment. She also continues to oversee Vera’s community policing projects, particularly those that focus on institutionalizing community policing, increasing community engagement in public safety problem solving, improving police-immigrant relations, and equipping law enforcement to effectively serve limited English proficient populations. From 2008-2015, Susan was a program director in Vera’s Center on Immigration and Justice, where she guided police, justice officials, and lawyers in improving immigrants’ access to justice and safety. Previously, she directed Vera’s Unaccompanied Children Program, which provides legal assistance to unaccompanied immigrant children who are facing deportation. Prior to joining Vera in 2006, Susan directed a health prevention education, research, and training program for New York City’s immigrant communities and was an associate in the immigration practice group of Bryan Cave LLP. Susan earned her JD from Northeastern University School of Law, an MPH from Tufts University, and a BA in journalism from Drake University.
Dexter Singleton is Executive Director of Collective Consciousness Theatre, a New Haven-based multicultural theatre company dedicated to creating new American works that inspire social change. Dexter has led many organizations and schools across the country in original workshops and programming as a public speaker in the areas of racism, African American studies, culture, diver- sity, team building, and hip hop. Singleton is a playwright with six regionally produced works, a director, a producer, and an actor. He is also Head of Theatre at the Regional Center for the Arts in Trumbull and Director of the GHAA Summer Musical Theatre Workshop in Hartford.
Amos Smith is President and CEO of the Community Action Agency of New Haven, one of the largest social service agencies in the region. He was recently appointed to New Haven’s Community and Police Relations Task Force. He has served as a facilitator at the Community Leadership Program in New Haven. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work.
Aliyya Swaby is a reporter at the New Haven Independent, with a focus on education, city zoning and transportation. She is an alumna of Yale, where she majored in environmental studies. Before returning to New Haven, she spent a year working on a freelance journalism project in Panama, writing about social and cultural issues in Afro-Panamanian communities.
Kyisha Velazquez, lifelong resident of New Haven, is the Program Manager of the Juvenile Review Board with New Haven Family Alliance, where she is focused on youth accountability, parental and youth rights and educational advancement. Earlier, she worked with Anthem Blue Cross and AMR Ambulance Company. Kyisha is a certified Restorative Justice trainer, a certified Results Based Accountability trainer, an Elm City Fellow 2010-2011 Alumna, and a Community Leadership Fellow 2014-2015. She has served on the NAACP youth council, the City of New Haven Youth Commission, Board of Director and Treasurer for Citywide Youth Coalition, and Board of Director for Phenomenal I Am. A graduate of Career High School, Springfield College, and Post University, she is currently a Clinical Psychology PhD student at Walden University.
Peter Wagner is an attorney and Executive Director of the Prison Policy Initiative. His report, Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in New York launched the national movement to ensure that incarcerated people are counted in the Census as residents of their home, not prison, addresses, in order to end the phenomenon of prison gerrymandering. In June 2014, the American Constitution Society awarded him the David Carliner Public Interest Award for his work abolishing prison gerrymandering in four states. He is also co-author of other cutting-edge criminal justice policy research including: Please Deposit All of Your Money: Kickbacks, Rates, and Hidden Fees in the Jail Phone Industry, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie, States of Incarceration: The Global Context, and The Geography of Punishment: How Huge Sentencing Enhancement Zones Harm Communities, Fail to Protect Children.
Kirsten West-Savali is the senior writer for TheRoot.com. As both a writer and cultural critic, her provocative commentary explores the intersections of race, social justice, religion, feminism, politics and pop-culture. A 2015 recipient of the H.F. Guggenheim Fellowship award, West Savali’s work has been featured on HuffingtonPost.com, Salon.com, DameMagazine.com, ClutchMagOnline.com, EBONY.com, xoJane.com, alternet.org,TheGrio.com and more. Along with her work being studied in several college courses across the country, she has been cited on CNN and MSNBC, provided commentary on NPR’s “Beauty Shop” with Michel Martin and the Tom Joyner Morning Show and appeared as a featured guest on Fusion’s “Alicia Mendez Tonight” and RT’s “Watching the Hawks.” She currently resides in Mississippi with her husband, Savali, their three sons — Walker, Dash and Reid — and their Bichon Frisé, Sir Walter.
Vesla Mae Weaver is Associate Professor of political science and African American Studies at Yale University. Her newest book with Amy Lerman, Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control, is concerned with the effects of increasing punishment and surveillance in America on democratic inclusion, particularly for the black urban poor. She is also the author of Frontlash: Civil Rights, the Carceral State, and the Transformation of American Politics (under contract with Cambridge), which uncovers a connection between the movement for civil rights and the development of punitive criminal justice. Weaver is also the co-author of Creating a New Racial Order, which explores how multiracialism, immigration, the genomics revolution, and generational changes are reshaping the racial order in the United States (with Professors Jennifer Hochschild and Traci Burch). Weaver’s research has been supported by fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Brookings Institution. She is currently a member of the Harvard/NIJ Executive Session on Community Corrections.