"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.



11_11_14_prisoneer_reentry_(c)_pap_studio_BIANCA use

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.

Dao, Aug2015

Daonese Johnson-Colón, Chief of Staff
Daonese joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Director of Operations in June 2012. She provides oversight for a variety of strategic administrative, programmatic and operational matters as well as ensures sound financial and contractual management of the Institute. She works to strengthen the Institute’s infrastructure as it enters its second decade, serves as a strategic thinking partner and confidant for the Director, collaborates with program managers to coordinate program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, oversees implementation of new programs and special projects, oversees all aspects of finance, operations and human resources with an eye toward continuously developing and improving systems. 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. 

11_11_14_prisoneer_reentry_(c)_pap_studio_KBC USE

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, NYC Justice Corps Project Coordinator
Sherrie Waller joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute in September 2014 and was promoted to NYC Justice Corps Project Coordinator in February 2015. Sherrie is responsible for overseeing the NYC Justice Corps, a multi-site initiative connecting young adults involved with the criminal justice system to leadership, educational and professional opportunity, and fostering community development in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and crime. 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.


Matthew Bond, Program Associate
Matthew joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as in March 2013. He currently supports the Pinkerton Fellowship Initiative and the Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship. After working in publishing, Matt entered the realm of criminal justice reform through 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 volunteers with Achilles International and has previously volunteered with with 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.

Dao, Aug2015

Aimée Baker, Administrative Associate

Aimée joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Administrative Associate in June 2015. She coordinates event logistics and communications, maintains the PRI website and provides support to all PRI projects. Prior to working at PRI, she worked at City Year as the Learning and Development Coordinator where she planned event logistics and facilitated workshops and presentations on professional development to corps members. She previously interned at Phipps Neighborhoods as well as the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs helping immigrant New Yorkers practice English while informing them of the city’s resources and services. Aimée graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Sociology and minored in African-American Studies and Spanish. 

Danielle, Aug2015

Danielle Petrilli, Administrative Associate

Danielle joined the Prisoner Reentry Institute as the Administrative Associate in June 2015.  She manages office operations and provides support to all PRI projects.  She was an intern in the Player Health & Safety Department of the National Football League and managed the Heads Up Football Ambassador Program.  She was also an Intake Intern for the Rhode Island Public Defender.  In addition, she has conducted independent psychological research aimed at reducing the rate of sexual assault on college campuses.  She has received various awards for her outstanding academic record.  Danielle graduated cum laude from Providence College with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Health Policy & Management. 

robert riggs Robert Riggs
Robert joined PRI in 2012 as a Project Director, leading research on the form of transitional housing known as three quarter houses. Robert is currently a doctoral candidate in Sociology at NYU, investigating the ways that individuals reintegrate into society through social networks, and how network inequality can influence prison-to-community transitions. He previously worked as Research and Reentry Associate at the Bard Prison Initiative, and as Research Assistant for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Project. Robert graduated summa cum laude with a BA from CUNY and holds a Master’s degree from NYU. He previously served a fellowship at the Vera Institute of Justice and is currently a MacCracken Fellow at NYU and a Graduate Research Fellow at the National Science Foundation.