Our current Fellows come from many schools across Columbia (Social Work, Teachers College, International and Public Affairs, Public Health, Sociology, and Columbia College), other colleges (CUNY Graduate Center and John Jay College of Criminal Justice) and a variety of different community and government organizations (the Brooklyn Bail Fund, the Door, the Silvia Rivera Law Project, the Social Change Agents Institute, G.I.R.L.S., the New York City Department of Education, and Vocal New York). We are honored to be working with such a powerful group of people and look forward to seeing the work of the Fellowship continue to grow.
MEET OUR FELLOWS
Ikenna “Ike” Achebe is a Community Health Coordinator in the Department of Sociomedical Science at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and a Research Assistant at the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind at Columbia University’s Department of Psychology. He is also a Health Services System Manager in the United States Army Reserve Medical Services Corps and a board member on the Newark Community Collaborative Board in Newark, NJ. Prior to joining the School of Public Health, Ikenna was a Health Policy Fellow at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a Research Assistant at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies and the Global Psychiatric Epidemiology Group at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Ikenna’s major areas of interests include social determinants of health such as justice-system involvement, interpersonal community gun violence, discrimination, and stigma. He is also interested in interventions focused on reducing stigma and increasing access to mental health treatment in communities of color, violence prevention programs, substance use disorders, STI and HIV prevention, and social justice and advocacy for under-served and vulnerable populations
Christie Anne Cunningham is a human rights and criminal justice reform advocate in the New York City area. She has a background in political science (North Carolina State University ’93) and law (New York Law School ’99), an advanced degree in social work (New York University ’18), and a personal history of justice-involvement, making her “trilingual” in the area of criminal justice reform. As an MSW student at NYU Chrissy was a member of the Student Leadership Council and the Phi Alpha National Honor Society, a presenter for the NYU Know Your Rights Project, and a co-organizer of the Mass Incarceration Conversation Series, a role that she has continued since graduation. She is affiliated with the New York Re-entry Education Network, and will be profiled in the 2019 edition of “Connections,” a resource guide for formerly incarcerated people published by the New York Public Library. In her social justice work, including as a consultant and trainer, Chrissy’s human-centered, strengths-based approach focuses on the importance of recognizing the inherent worth and dignity in every person as a vital factor in achieving genuine justice and increasing public safety. Chrissy works with professionals in different areas, including social service providers, mental health and legal professionals, and social justice advocates to develop cultural competence in their work with justice-involved individuals. Chrissy is honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to be a 2018/2019 Beyond the Bars Fellow at the Center for Justice at Columbia University.
Dale D’Amico is a lifelong learner. He began his college experience while incarcerated in the NYS Department of Corrections, where he completed a Certificate Program in Human Services from The New York Theological Seminary, as well as taking other college courses, earning fifty credits. After being released from prison in 2013, having served more than twenty years, Dale began his undergraduate studies at Hostos Community College, where he made the Dean’s List while serving as a Senator and the Chairman of the Events Committee in the Student
Government Association. He earned his Associate Degree of Arts with
Honors in 2017, and then a B.A. from The City University of New York in
2018.While an undergrad, Dale was selected as a Columbia University
Justice-in-Education Scholar, enabling him to enroll in several of the Ivy
League’s classes. He now serves as a Beyond The Bars Fellow at
Columbia’s Center for Justice. Dale is also a mentor for the College
Initiative/PRI at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he coaches
and inspires others.
Angel Fulgencio is a second-year Master of Science in Social Work candidate at Columbia University with a focus in Contemporary Social Issues and a minor in Criminal Justice. Angel is a student leader for Criminal Justice Caucus at Columbia School of Social Work. He currently interns at the Bronx Community Solutions – The Center for Court Innovation, an alternative to incarceration organization as an MSW intern for the Adolescent Diversion Program. As a non-traditional student himself, Angel volunteers with the Bruin Resource Center to mentor non-traditional, transfer, and underrepresented students’ populations at UCLA. For his leadership and mentorship, Angel was awarded the inaugural UCLA Alumni Association Young Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award in 2016. He is a US Army combat veteran who served Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. After his service, he felt a deep desire to continue to serve his community, and he became involved in community-based work with a veteran nonprofit organization, The Mission Continues. Angel helped revive school grounds and foster educational opportunities for the local youth in underserved communities in Los Angeles and helps with neighborhood revitalization of playgrounds in Brownsville, Brooklyn. As a veteran, he develops character and leadership skills in young adults as a Character Does Matter Mentor and helps other transitioning veterans readjust to civilian life when they returned from overseas with the Travis Manion Foundation. Angel hopes to practice restorative justice circles in the future because he believes in the power of community involvement.
Greg Hetmeyer is an Advanced Standing MSW candidate at Columbia University School of Social Work, where he focuses on clinical social work with a concentration on mental health. Specifically, he is interested in the effects of mass incarceration on the psychosocial function of people of color. Previously, Greg attended York College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he received his Bachelor’s of Science with a major in social work. In addition to serving as a Peer Mentor with John Jay Prison Reentry Institute, Greg facilitates a virtual support space for men released from prison returning to communities across the United States. Greg is a survivor of the criminal justice system, being formerly incarcerated in the Virginia Department of Correction for 22 years. His experiences with the criminal justice system have helped to shape his passion for social justice. His unyielding passion and commitment to end the dehumanizing systemic practices of mass-incarceration is fueled by his own painful experiences of incarceration; coupled with the knowledge that there are scores of men fighting for the opportunity to rejoin the community of humanity. Greg enjoys quiet times with his wife and family, is an active member of the International Christian Brotherhood (ICB), and he enjoys the art of cooking as a form of self-care in addition to working out at the gym. Greg plans to continue to engage with organizations and individuals involved in dismantling the structures of mass-incarceration.
Destini M. Hornbuckle is an author, community advocate and recruitment specialist dedicated to seeking and creating change. As an undergraduate at SUNY Old Westbury, with a major in Communications, Destini was very involved with campus life and student media. Since graduating college Hornbuckle has become a campaign leader on Just Leadership USA’s Close Rikers campaign where she participates in trainings and creates and participates in community- based programming. Destini hosted an event entitled “Operation Get Involved” dedicated toward getting the people of her hometown, Yonkers, involved and in the know about what’s going on around them. In 2018, Hornbuckle was chosen to be a Beyond the Bars fellow where she currently works alongside a group of dedicated community advocates and Columbia University students to plan the 9th annual Beyond the Bars Conference.Her debut book “A Book of Failed Love Stories” was published August 2018 and is a compilation of short stories about the ups and downs of love and how one can use them as a learning lesson. As an emerging world changer Destini Hornbuckle plans to pursue a career in International Human Rights and Criminal Law. While creating and advocating for humanitarian-based campaigns and organizations as well. Inevitably, she plans to create her own organization geared toward assisting people will legal, health related and career-based issues. But for now, Destini Hornbuckle continues to work and learn to gain the tools that will be necessary.
Hanna Love is a graduate student in Sociology at Columbia University, where her research focuses on the social and structural factors that influence criminalization in juvenile delinquency proceedings. She is also a research intern at New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, where she is passionate about using public data for community empowerment and government accountability. Prior to Columbia, she was a Research Analyst in the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, where she managed projects on decarceration, youth justice, prison closure and repurposing, and state and local policy reform. Hanna’s work in the criminal justice field began as an undergraduate student at Pomona College, where she researched low-income survivors’ healing strategies outside of incarceration, conducted a qualitative study on sex-worker organizing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and worked as a Rape Crisis Counselor in the greater Los Angeles area. As a first-generation, low-income scholar, Hanna is committed to building safe communities without relying on harmful systems of punishment and incarceration. She is honored to be a part of the valuable work of the Center for Justice as a 2018/2019 Beyond the Bars Fellow.
Eileen Maher was born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She is a first generation college graduate and completed her undergraduate studies in psychology and sociology from Albertus Magnus college in New Haven, Connecticut. Flowing college, Eileen moved to Brooklyn where she worked for several years in the Foster Care and Juvenile Justice Field while attending Fordham University where she eventually received her Master’s degree in Social Work. She also became an Animal Rescue Volunteer and Fur Baby Foster parent advocating for the Don’t Shop Adopt Campaign as well as the campaigns to end dog and fowl fighting and Greyhound/Dog racing. Recently, Eileen has also become an advocate to end mass incarceration, improve prison conditions and criminal practices, and close Rikers Island by volunteering and becoming a community leader with Vocal New York, Court Watch, and the Dollar Bail Brigade.
Kiara Manosalvas, MA is a first-year doctoral student studying Counseling Psychology at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. She works under the mentorship of Brandon Velez, PhD in the Stigma, Identity, and Intersectionality Research Lab. Kiara earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park and her MA in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College (BC). She is currently on the bilingual mental health concentration track as well, and hopes to offer culturally-sensitive psychotherapy services to Spanish-speaking communities. During her time at BC, Kiara worked as a research assistant in the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture. Before attending Teacher’s College, Kiara worked as a research assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where she sought to better understand how survivors of trauma access and navigate healthcare. In this role, she and her team specifically aimed to incorporate tenants of trauma-informed care within the medical model to avoid re-traumatizing patients. Kiara’s research interests include Latinx racial identity development and the psychological toll of oppression, specifically for individuals who hold multiple marginalized identities. She is very excited to be participating as a fellow for Beyond the Bars and learning from the inspiring scholars, community members, and activists she has had the opportunity to work with.
Kimberly McKenzie is a trans woman of color organizer with over 6 years of work experience in grassroots organizing for marginalized trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex communities. Because of her commitment to creating long-term solutions to end race- and gender based oppression, Kimberly is deeply dedicated to the strength and sustainability to empowering the leadership and political voices of marginalized trans communities, Kimberly firmly believes that in order for TGNCI communities to contribute to the work of our liberation, they must be free from violence and discrimination. Kimberly continues to support and advocate for TGNCI communities in the broader work for social justice and long-term systemic change.
Bethany K. Miller (she/her/hers) is a second year MSW student at Columbia University School of Social work, where her studies focus on the ways directly-impacted people and communities navigate the criminal legal and immigration systems, as well as the development and implementation of programs to respond to challenges inherit to those systems. Through her internship with the Center for Justice at Columbia University, Bethany is working to support the 2019 Beyond the Bars Fellowship and Conference. Prior to moving to New York to pursue social work, Bethany lived in Latin America where she worked as a middle school teacher, with an NGO to support indigenous women artisans and their families in rural Guatemala, and in Mexico City where she focused on disseminating human rights reports written by independent journalist throughout the region. In addition to working internationally, Bethany has extensive experience in federal policy. She worked for the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. for nearly five years for Members of Congress in both the House and the Senate on issues including the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill of 2013, juvenile and criminal justice issues, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013, gun control legislation, international labor issues, and judiciary appropriations. Bethany’s time in DC also included lobbying for federal appropriations to support social justice focused non-profit organizations. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Bethany obtained her BA in Psychology with a minor in Spanish from the University of Oregon. In addition to work, Bethany dedicates her time to practicing yoga and meditation, reading, running, gardening, spending time with friends, and catching up with her family back home in Portland.
Alice Mills Mai (she/her) is a daughter of Ghanaian immigrants, a Ghanaian immigrant, first-generational college graduate, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a first year doctoral student. In Alice’s role as a Senior Counselor with the Criminalized Survivors Program of STEPS to End Family Violence, Alice serves criminalized survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic violence (DV), and gender-based violence. Alice works with survivor who have been charged with felony-level crimes connected to their survival navigate the criminal justice system, incarceration and other systems that impact survivors’ lives. Within these systems Alice guide survivors to make meaning of the impact of trauma in their lives. As a feminist Alice examines trauma beyond the individual lens but also suffering bound up in larger systems of oppression. In her academic and career pursuit, Alice strives to increase the representation of racial and minorities in the field of counseling/psychotherapy. Alice is a self-avowed afrobeats expert, runner, podcast listener, Ghana jollof connoisseur, and sommelier.
Claudia Reyes (she/her/ella) was born in Mexico City and immigrated to California at the age of three. Motivated by her own personal experiences, her family and community; Claudia, a first generation student received her B.A. in History and Sociology from Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles in May 2017. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Claudia was mentored, encouraged, pushed and challenged to get out of her comfort zone that led her to pay more attention to the social injustices that were happening to her, her community and all around. Through immersions locally, nationally and international Claudia began to take interest in local and international policies as well as the lack of representation of women of color in high positions including higher education. Through these observations, it led Claudia to pursue a Master of Science in Social Work at Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW) in the City of New York. There, she is in the Policy Track with a field of practice in international social welfare and services to immigrants and refugees. Her time at CSSW has led her to be placed at SCO Family of Services for her first year and is currently at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Claudia is involved within the CSSW community as a Caucus Leader for both the Latinx and Criminal Justice Caucus and a Student Ambassador for Admissions. Claudia enjoys riddles, doing embroidery and karaoke nights. Claudia is excited to be a Beyond the Bars Fellow for the 2018-2019 cohort.
Tabaitha Rodriguez is a social justice advocate, a single mother of two born and raised in the Bronx. Currently working at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, Tabaitha Rodriguez is also the President and CEO of G.I.R.L.S (Gathering of Independent Resources for Living Successfully) Achieving Incorporated, a non-profit 501 c (3) organization based in the Bronx. Tabaitha’s work as an advocate and crisis counselor lead to her being awarded the 2016-2017 VIP of the year award for her excellence, leadership and commitment to her profession while encouraging the achievement of professional women from the National Association of Professional Women. She’s also received the Outstanding Service award, Most Emergency Room Shifts Taken award and the Phenomenal Woman award for her services as a volunteer emergency room crisis counselor for the Domestic and Other Violent Emergencies (DOVE) organization at Columbia University. Tabaitha also holds certifications in resilience, school violence and intervention and the New York State Department of Health 40 hour rape crisis counseling. Tabaitha received her Master’s degree in Psychology in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in May 2017, and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Monroe College. Tabaitha is currently collaborating with Isaac’s Quarterly, The Confined Arts Exhibition and film project along with Burgess Brown & Burak Sancakdar with their thesis proposal in developing a space that meets the needs of young adults alongside other organizations working with youth in underserved communities
Anderson P Smith, Ed.M., M.F.A. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Academically and personally, Anderson is a social justice activist and educator. He has facilitated and co-facilitated literacy and creative writing workshops in both medium and maximum security prisons in New York as well as New York City’s main jail complex, Rikers Island. He has written articles currently being considered for publication in the Journal of Correctional Education. Further, he has conducted workshops and lectures in various conferences in the Tri-State Area around literacy and metacognition for people convicted of crimes. He holds a Master of Education in Teaching of English (Teachers College, Columbia University ’18), Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Manhattanville ’15), and a Bachelor of Science in Communications (St. John’s University ’13). Anderson is currently a Ph.D. student in English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research primarily explores ways in which literature can be in service to the mentally incarcerated. He believes that the challenge concerns getting adolescent and adult members of society to think metacognitively and socially as in pertains to their personal relationship to reading and writing and recognize that their individual paradigms are alive in each process. Therefore, better readers are better and informed writers. As a proud member of Beyond the Bars, Anderson believes that he has been charged with the responsibility of raising the awareness of the fight against recidivism and draconian laws.
Timothy Shands was born and raised in Long Island City, NY in Queensbridge Houses, the largest low-income public housing development in the country. After a brief career in the United States Navy he lived for a few years in West Haven, Connecticut and worked as a Directory Assistance at The Southern New England Telephone Co. After returning to NYC Mr. Shands worked for several years as the Facilities Manager for Paramount Bio Capital, an investment bank specializing in biotechnology. During this time, he returned to school and earned an Associate Degree in Human Services from LaGuardia Community College and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from Hunter College. In 2008 Timothy switched gears and embarked on a career in adult education at City College of New York School of Continuing Education. He has since taught at Cypress Hills Local Development Co., Fortune Society, NYC College of Technology, and Brooklyn Public Library, and currently teaches math and literacy for the Young Adult Literacy Program at The Door, one of the city’s premiere youth organizations. Timothy has dedicated his professional life to educating, counseling, and mentoring those that have been victimized by unequal and inadequate public-school systems of education. An avid student of the United States Civil Rights Movement Mr. Shands is particularly proud to share that in September 2007 he was in Little Rock, Arkansas for the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine. During the week-long roster of events he visited Central High School and got to meet all nine of these remarkable human beings. In 2016 Timothy Shands was awarded a Master of Arts Degree in Sociology from the City College of New York, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.
Mary Soto is currently a criminology student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In addition to her studies, Mary dedicates her time to Sister for a Sistah Empowerment Project, a program she founded that focuses on providing services to girls ages 11-17 who are currently incarcerated in juvenile facilities. As a Dreamer, Mary focuses on issues that affect the undocumented population in our communities. Mary was recently a panelist for, “National Conference on Higher Education in Prison” in which she spoke on the importance of higher education for people who are currently or formerly incarcerated. In 2018, Mary received the Campus Impact Student of the Year Award from Bronx Community College. She identifies as being at the intersection of the immigration system and the criminal legal system, as she spent three years in a juvenile facility as a young girl. While there, Mary became determined to help her community and to end youth incarceration. Her motto is Education is Freedom.
Ash Stephens (They/Them and He/Him pronouns) is a member of the volunteer-led collective Survived and Punish – New York City chapter, which is part of a national coalition that includes survivors, organizers, victim advocates, legal advocates and attorneys, policy experts, scholars, and currently and formerly incarcerated people. S&P organizes to de-criminalize efforts to survive domestic and sexual violence, support and free criminalized survivors, and abolish gender violence, policing, prisons, and deportations. Ash is also a newly appointed Sylvia Rivera Law Project Core Collective member. They hold a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University and an M.A. in Criminology, Law & Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Ash is a PhD Candidate in Criminology, Law & Justice with a concentration in Gender and Women’s Studies from UIC.
A native of Haiti, Jonathan has faced many of the social injustices and inequities that disenfranchise those who are thought of as “other”. Consequently, his experiences have propelled him towards building community, addressing marginalization and challenging entrenched power structures. As a Black, queer, gender non-conforming immigrant, Jonathan seeks to better examine the roles of violence and mass incarceration as drivers of health disparities—both behind bars and in communities. He advocates for the need to merge efforts for improving public health interventions with our justice system to promote healthy, safe, and prosperous communities. He aspires to become a public health attorney to address some of today’s most critical challenges in public health law and policy. He aims to connect the intersections between justice and health systems in order to improve health outcomes of racial and sexual minority groups. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, journaling, and collecting colorful socks.
Preety is a graduate student currently pursuing a Masters in public administration with a concentration in social policy at Columbia SIPA. Preety became passionate about criminal justice reform after serving a year with AmeriCorps in an alternative-to-incarceration program for youth in Baltimore. Prior to graduate school, Preety supported public defenders in NYC as an arraignment court administrator and as an investigator. Most recently she worked with rape crisis advocates and corrections staff to increase correctional facilities’ level of compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act policies that support incarcerated survivors of sexual assault. Preety also currently volunteers with the Parole Preparation Project where she provides advocacy to incarcerated individuals serving life sentences in their preparation for parole hearings. In her free time she can be found on the trails in the Hudson Valley. Preety is excited to be a part of the 2018-2019 Beyond the Bars Fellowship.
Tiffany Younger is the founder of the Social Change Agents Institute, a project that brings scholars, professionals, and educators to developing countries to offer Free mental health services and social change workshops in developing countries of the African Diaspora such as South Africa, Brazil and Haiti. In addition, she is piloting the Social Changes Agents Institute (SCAI). Prior to running the institute, Tiffany worked as a Policy Fellow for United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand where she focused on issues of criminal justice, gender and race equity. Tiffany also served as a Civic Engagement Director at the YMCA of Greater New York. She managed over 20 staff and was responsible for helping teenagers learn how to draft legislation through the Youth in Government program. Tiffany was appointed the YMCA’s Change Agent for New York City for her progress and accomplishments in youth development. This distinction enabled her to work with various young professionals throughout the world to create a national YMCA strategy to address poverty. In the summer of 2013, she was one of the facilitators at the YMCA’s Youth Festival in Prague; this international experience awakened a desire to have an impact beyond her role with the YMCA. Tiffany obtained her Masters Degree in Social policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. Currently, Tiffany is obtaining her doctoral degree in Social Welfare at the Silberman School studying social welfare policy.