"Spurring innovation, improving practice"



Ann Jacobs, Director
Ann joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute in May 2011 with over forty years of experience in the criminal justice field. For nearly two decades, Ms. Jacobs served as the Executive Director of the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) in New York. The WPA is the nation’s oldest and largest social service and advocacy organization for incarcerated women, formerly incarcerated women, and their families. During her time at WPA, she directed 120 staff members who served over 2,500 women and their families per year at five community sites, the city jail, and four women’s prisons in New York State. Under Ms. Jacobs’ leadership, WPA’s budget expanded from $500,000 in 1990 to a budget of $8.5 million at the time her of departure in 2008.Ms. Jacobs has served as a national spokesperson, consultant and trainer on a range of issues including gender, families and criminal justice, as well as associated issues of substance abuse, mental health, health, housing, child welfare and employment. Ms. Jacobs has designed and implemented innovative programs for women and families involved in the criminal justice system and has also served as a consultant to the National Institute of Corrections and Annie E. Casey Foundation, among others.As a recognized advocate and reformer, Ms. Jacobs also founded the Women’s Justice Alliance, a consortium of over 100 service providers in New York State; she created the Institute on Women in Criminal Justice, a national policy center dedicated to improving the policies and practices affecting women in the criminal justice system; and the Women’s Advocacy Project, a program in public policy and civic involvement for formerly incarcerated women. Previously, Jacobs was responsible for oversight of the city’s five public safety agencies for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations and served as the Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator from 1986 to 1990. Earlier in her career, Ms. Jacobs worked at the Pretrial Services Resource Center and the National Institute for Dispute Resolution. Her experience encompasses work in both the juvenile and adult justice systems, at the local and national levels.Ms. Jacobs earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park and attended the University of Baltimore Law School.



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Bianca van Heydoorn, Director of Education Initiatives
Bianca joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Director of Educational Initiatives in August 2012. Her primary responsibility is to oversee projects related to increasing engagement, enrollment and retention in higher education for individuals with criminal justice histories. She works closely with institutions of higher education, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and other partners on existing projects as well as developing strategies for future initiatives.  Bianca comes to PRI with ten years of experience in direct service and program implementation with justice involved populations. Prior to joining PRI, she provided educational and career counseling to young men at Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO), a reentry program in East Harlem. In addition, Bianca’s previous experience includes employment at the Vera Institute of Justice, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) and Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) where she worked on juvenile justice reform, youth development, commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC), discharge planning and building government and community partnerships.  She was also a 2007-2009 F.A.O. Schwarz Family Foundation Fellow and is published in the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice. Bianca graduated Magna cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Correctional Sociology from the CUNY Baccalaureate Program for Interdisciplinary Studies and earned a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.


Daonese Johnson-Colón, Director of Operations 
Daonese joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Director of Operations in June 2012.  She ensures sound financial and contractual management of the Institute as well as provides oversight for general administration, program management workflow and human resources.  Additionally, she serves as advisor to the director.  Daonese has eleven years of experience in higher education administration within the CUNY system. Before joining our team, she was the business manager for the Baruch College Survey Research unit. She is a recipient of the NAACP Minority Achievement Recognition Award. Daonese graduated Summa cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies and earned a Master’s in Legal Studies from Kaplan University.


Melissa Pognon, Director of Fellowship Initiatives
Melissa joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Project Coordinator of the Pinkerton Fellowship Initiative (PFI) in June 2012.  Before joining our team, she worked at the Center for Civic Engagement at Northwestern University where one of her projects was to develop and manage music mentorship programs for incarcerated young men at Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Melissa graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. She went on to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was a Davis-Putter Peace and Justice Scholar and earned a joint Master’s degree in Human and Community Development and Urban and Regional Planning. 

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Kevin Barnes-Ceeney, Director of Research
Kevin joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute in March 2014. He is currently working on a two-year qualitative process and implementation study of New York City Department of Probation’s NeON initiative, and a biographical narratives study of formerly incarcerated people participating on CUNY’s Prison-to-College Pipeline. He is also a co-facilitator teaching the Youth Justice Practicum for the Pinkerton Fellowship Initiative. Kevin received his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from CUNY Graduate Centre in June 2013. His dissertation entitled “Negotiating Labyrinths of Risk: The Impact and Implementation of a Structured Violence Risk Assessment Instrument in Juvenile Parole” was a mixed methods study examining the impact of the SAVRY violence risk assessment instrument on juvenile parole decision-making in New Jersey. Kevin has an extensive international practice background. He worked for the Probation Service in England and Wales for more than eleven years, as a probation officer supervising probation clients assessed as posing a high risk of harm; and as an alcohol counselor for clients experiencing problems with their drinking. He has also worked in homelessness services in London, and as a social work advisor in a major medical practice in Astana, Kazakhstan, training social work students and staff in alcohol and drug assessments, motivational interviewing, and casework planning. Kevin is interested in community corrections, community justice approaches, risk assessment, and the impact of organizational culture on the implementation of evidence-based services. 

11_11_14_prisoneer_reentry_(c)_pap_studio-9 Karin Martin, Faculty Director, Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship
Karin D. Martin, PhD, joined PRI in the summer of 2014 as the Faculty Director of the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship (TPAF). Dr. Martin is also an Assistant Professor of Public Management at John Jay College. Her areas of expertise are crime policy and multi-method research design, with an emphasis on the origins and consequences of unwarranted racial disparities. A central focus of her research is the use of money as punishment. Her current project is an analysis of qualitative data to better understand the effect of debt related to involvement in the criminal justice system, coupled with administrative data to assess the cost to the state of monetary penalties. She studied Psychology at Stanford University and worked in a variety of non-profit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area before attending University of California, Berkeley where she earned an MPP, an MA in Political Science, and a PhD in Public Policy. She was a post-doctoral scholar in the Psychology Department at UCLA where she was also a Fellow with the Center for Policing Equity. She has been a Fellow at the Center for Research on Social Change at UC Berkeley, a Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies Fellow, a National Science Foundation-funded Fellow in the Integrated Graduate Education Research and Training (IGERT) Program in Politics, Economics, Psychology, and Public Policy, and was a 2009 RAND Summer Associate. Dr. Martin teaches Policy Analysis at the undergraduate, Master’s, and doctoral levels; drawing on her training in policy analysis by Eugene Bardach, (author of “A Practical Guide For Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path To More Effective Problem Solving”) at the University of California, Berkeley. She has both conducted her own policy analyses for clients (e.g. social justice non-profits, police departments) and has advised ten cohorts of students through semester-long policy projects. She was closely mentored in teaching by Robert Reich as an instructor for six years in the MPP core curriculum course, “Leadership and Social Change,” also at UC Berkeley. 
Elena_no border Elena Sigman, Director of Collaborative Learning
Elena joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Special Advisor in September 2011. Ms. Sigman convenes and facilitates the NYC Justice Corps Learning Community, a forum for skills training, exchange of best practices, and mutual support for professionals working with young adults ages 18-24 who are involved in the criminal justice system and are gaining access to education and employment in the community. Previously, Ms. Sigman prepared the solicitation to expand the NYC Justice Corps and managed the program’s growth to four sites.  Ms. Sigman brings more than 20 years of nonprofit operations and management experience, including strategic planning and program design, program start-up, staff professional development, volunteer engagement, communications, and grant-writing.  Ms. Sigman has served as Director of Food Programs at an environmental organization and as Director of Operations at the Women’s Prison Association, among other roles.

Sherrie Waller, Special Projects Coordinator
Sherrie Waller joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Special Projects Coordinator in September 2014. Sherrie is responsible for the management of PRI’s special projects, including initiatives related to program and staff support, research, and policy. In May 2014, Sherrie received her Master’s degree in Social Work and Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University with concentrations in policy practice and community development. While at Columbia University, Sherrie interned at the Correctional Association of New York in the Juvenile Justice Project where she was involved in an evaluation of a recently implemented anti-harassment policy for LGBTQ in youth prisons. She was also a Research Assistant for the North Star Planning and Evaluation Consultants. There she worked with a small team to evaluate the Ford Foundation’s Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime initiative, which provides funding to state asset building coalitions that promote legislative and regulatory change to support low-income families and families of color build wealth and economic security.  Prior to receiving her Master’s, Sherrie worked several years at a community-based organization focused on education in Dorchester, Massachusetts. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture with a minor in Urban Studies from Northeastern University.


Lila McDowell, Development and Communications Coordinator
Lila joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Development and Communications Coordinator in October 2014. Lila is responsible for generating ideas for new and expanded initiatives, establishing and executing the Institute’s overall fundraising strategy, and managing PRI’s communications including the website, print materials, and public relations. She is also working to disseminate PRI’s work and research findings to a broader audience using a variety of media. Lila comes to PRI with both practical and academic experience, having worked as a case manager at the East Harlem reentry organization Exodus Transitional Community after completing original PhD research on the transformative experiences of higher education for men pursuing undergraduate degrees while incarcerated. Lila holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago, a Master’s of Science degree in Educational Research Methods from Oxford University, and a PhD in Education also from Oxford. She is also credentialed as a CASAC-T by the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, and an Offender Workforce Development Specialist by the New York State Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives. In addition to her work with PRI she is currently an adjunct professor in the Sociology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and has been published in the academic journal Changing English.


Maja Olesen, Program Associate
Maja joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as Program Associate in April 2014. Her primary responsibilities are managing the day-to-day functioning of the Prison-to-College Pipeline and supporting the research initiatives of the PRI. Maja graduated with her Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from John Jay College in 2014, in which she focused on correctional administration, reentry, and penal policies. She has experience volunteering in an educational program where she taught Spanish to incarcerated students in Denmark. Maja also has experience working with social and legal issues concerning individuals with developmental disabilities who are involved in the criminal justice system at the National Board of Social Services in Denmark.


Krystlelynn Caraballo, Administrative Associate                                       
Krystlelynn joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Administrative Associate in June 2012.  She serves as staff mentor for the Redefining Youth Justice Club (RYJC), manages office operations and provides support to all PRI projects. She was a Presidential Intern for John Jay College President Jeremy Travis and assisted in background research for his speeches and correspondence.  She was a TSY Mentor for Adolescent Offenders at Midtown Community Court for a year and later participated as a student volunteer in the Prison to College Pipeline Program where she traveled to Otisville Correctional Facility once a month and attended learning exchanges alongside incarcerated students.  She has received awards on a local and National level for her leadership and work toward humanitarian goals.  Krystlelynn earned a Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.


Matthew Bond, Administrative Associate
Matthew joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Administrative Associate in March 2013. He coordinates event logistics and communications, maintains the PRI website, and provides support to all PRI projects.  After working in the publishing field, Matt entered the realm of criminal justice reform by interning at the Midtown Community Court, helping formerly incarcerated adults seek employment and working with youths arrested for low-level offenses. Matt then transitioned to the Center for Court Innovation (Midtown’s parent organization), where he worked with the Greenpoint Youth Court and contributed to other projects to promote juvenile justice reform in New York and nationwide. He has also volunteered with several political campaigns and organizations such as LIFT (Legal Information for Families Today). Matt graduated Summa cum Laude from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English and a minor in history.



Lindsay Whetter, Visiting Scholar
Lindsay is visiting The Prisoner Reentry Institute from The University of Exeter in England where she is completing her PhD thesis entitled ‘Faith Inside: An Ethnographic Exploration of Kainos Community, HMP The Verne.’ She holds BSc (Hons) in Psychology and MSSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice from The Queen’s University of Belfast. Lindsay’s introduction to prisons was in the 1990s as an Independent Representative for NIACRO in a juvenile detention centre in Northern Ireland. Lindsay spent seven years living in Belfast working with young offenders in custody and with mentally ill adults. In 2000 she moved back to England where she worked for the Institute of Criminology, The University of Cambridge. She was a supervisor on the Wolfson Course and carried out research on two major studies: The Home Office funded New English and Welsh Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (NEW-ADAM) Programme, a longitudinal study of the prevalence and patterns of drug use among arrestees on a national level, and The ESRC funded Peterborough Adolescent Development Study (PADS), part of the Social Contexts of Pathways in Crime (SCoPiC) Network which aims to identify individual and environmental factors of adolescent pathways into and out of crime. Lindsay has carried out independent research projects for The Ex-prisoners Interpretative Centre (EPIC), The British Society of Criminology and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Youth Offending Service. Lindsay has facilitated on a number of courses in prisons including Art workshops, Social development courses, Restorative justice courses and Bible study classes.