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Soffiyah Elijah is the Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York.
An accomplished advocate, attorney, scholar and educator, Ms. Elijah is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the nearly 170-year old organization in its mission to create a fairer, more effective and humane criminal justice system.
Prior to joining the staff of the Correctional Association in March 2011, Ms. Elijah served as Deputy Director and a clinical instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. At the Institute, she trained hundreds of law students to become effective and ethical lawyers and to engage in local and national reform of criminal and juvenile justice policies.
A native New Yorker, Ms. Elijah practiced criminal and family law in New York City for more than 20 years. Before moving to Harvard, she was a member of the faculty and Director and supervising attorney of the Defender Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law. She was a supervising attorney at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, where she defended indigent members of the Harlem community, and has also worked as a staff attorney for the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society.
Honored by the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild in 2010, Ms. Elijah has dedicated her life to human rights and social activism. She is a recognized national and international authority on human rights issues and has served as a justice on several people’s tribunals focused on the U.S. government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, the testing of bombs in Vieques, Puerto Rico, and conditions of confinement inside American prisons. She has authored several articles and publications on U.S. criminal and juvenile justice policy and prison conditions and is a frequent presenter at national and international forums.
Ms. Elijah earned her Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School.
Jack Beck joined the staff of the Correctional Association in 2004. He manages all aspects of the Prison Visiting Project’s work, facilitates prison visits, writes reports and policy materials, directs legislative strategy, and supervises staff. He is also a representative for incarcerated individuals on the Academy of Medicine Institutional Review Board and has consulted with federal officials about regulations concerning research on incarcerated individuals. Prior to joining the CA, Jack was Senior Supervising Attorney at the Prisoners’ Right Project of the Legal Aid Society, where he worked for 23 years specializing in medical care issues, with particular focus on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. A nationally-recognized expert on prison health care, he is also a member of several coalitions concerned with medical and mental health care in prisons that advocate for improved care for people in prison. Jack received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and his Bachelor’s in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Gina Cascino, Administrative Assistant, joined the CA in 2008. Gina helps with administrative duties and office flow; she works the front desk, answering the phones, and e-mail requests. Gina is also administrative assistant to Laura Davidson, Director of Operations and Human Resources. She attends prison monitoring visits with the Prison Visiting Project (PVP) and Women in Prison Project (WIPP). Prior to the CA, Gina worked in Atlanta, New York and LA in the film business. She served as a Commercial Producer and Production Manager and also location-managed major motion pictures coming to the Southeastern United States. Gina is a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Laura Davidson, Director of Operations and Human Resources, joined the CA in 1989. Laura ensures that the CA office operates as smoothly and effectively as possible. She also administers employee benefits programs, compensation, and organizational development for staff members. Before transitioning to her current position, she held several different posts at the CA including receptionist, administrative assistant, office manager, and director of operations. In addition to her work at the CA, Laura plays a key role in implementing the Boy Scouts of America’s mission statement and serves as an Assistant Special Events Coordinator for Brown Memorial Baptist Church, an organization which helps youth develop character through sports and the creative arts. In December 2008, Laura won the Phyllis McCarthy Public Interest Service Award for her lifetime commitment to serving public interest organizations.
Carnell Hayes, Office Assistant, joined the CA in 2000. Carnell assists in maintaining an efficient office environment by supporting CA staff with administrative tasks, directing incoming phone calls, purchasing and maintaining office supplies, assisting with special projects, and maintaining office appearance. Before joining the CA, he worked for an independent marketing firm. In his spare time, Carnell actively promotes and finances independent films that promote a positive representation of African-Americans in the movie industry.
Tanesha Ingram, Youth and Community Coordinator, joined the CA in September 2011. Tanesha oversees the Juvenile Justice Project’s (JJP) Safe Passages youth leadership program, which engages youth in advocacy around issues in the juvenile justice system. Prior to joining the CA, Tanesha spent many years mentoring and helping transform the lives of young people through her work with the international organization Youth at Risk. She also managed various mentoring programs throughout New York City for young people whose parents are incarcerated, children in single parent households, and teenage parents. At the age of 19, Tanesha was one of the youth co-founders of, Bronx PRYDE (Promoting, Revolutionary Youth Development & Empowerment). She is an Americorp graduate of 2003 and plans to pursue a degree in Psychology.
Rita Khweye, Executive Assistant to Executive Director, Soffiyah Elijah, joined the CA in July 2012. Rita leverages Soffiyah Elijah’s time by serving as the principal administrative contact and liaison between Soffiyah and all internal and external contacts as well as managing her calendar of business appointments, meetings, due diligence, conferences, special engagements and events. Prior to working at the CA, Rita served as a legal assistant at the Sankofa Law Firm, where she assisted various attorneys in criminal defense cases and civil litigation. Her work at Sankofa presented a platform to directly advocate for clients who found themselves in the maze of the New York legal system. Rita received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at Rutgers University, New Jersey.
Tamar Kraft-Stolar, Director of the Women in Prison Project (WIPP), joined the CA in 2000. She manages all aspects of WIPP’s work, facilitates prison visits, chairs the Coalition for Women Prisoners, writes reports and policy materials, directs legislative strategy, and supervises staff. Before becoming Director, Tamar worked for the CA’s Public Policy Project, coordinating its statewide campaign to repeal New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws. She was also Executive Assistant to author/journalist Carl Bernstein. In 1999, she graduated Cornell University summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s in History and Africana Studies.
Caitlin Kundrat became Associate Director of Communications at the CA in January 2012, after serving for four years in the CA’s development department. As the organization’s only full-time communications staff, Caitlin is responsible for strategizing, coordinating and implementing the CA’s press relations, public communications, and online and social media efforts. In 2007, Caitlin received a Bachelor’s in Sociology with a Concentration in Human Services from the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she graduated magna cum laude and completed her senior thesis on the impact of incarceration on mothers, children and families.
Nurideen Khalil Islam has served as Project Associate for the Correctional Association’s Prison Visiting Project since April 2012. Prior to joining the CA, Nurideen served as the Vice-President of New York’s chapter of the Alternative to Violence Project, which offers a series of workshops in conflict resolution. Outside of the CA, Nurideen has launched a youth-based program called S.Q.U.A.S.H (Successfully Quelling Unnecessary And Senseless Hatred). Nurideen received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and is an alumni of New York Theological Seminary with a Master’s degree in Religion.
Tyrrell Muhammad has served as Project Associate for the Correctional Association’s Prison Visiting Project since April 2012. Prior to joining the CA, Tyrrell mentored young boys at Elementary Community School 21 in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. He also presently serves as Chief Consultant for Force One International Security, and is committed to helping formerly incarcerated men and women in his community find gainful employment. Tyrrell earned his Bachelor of Arts from Syracuse University and Master’s degree from New York Theological Seminary in 2004.
Gordon Miller, Director of Finance, joined the CA in September 2011. Gordon manages all aspects of the CA’s finances, including preparing the annual budget, strategizing long term financial plans, engaging in periodic forecasting, handling operational accounting, and mitigating the organization’s financial risk. Before joining the CA, Gordon was the Budget Director at Safe Horizons, an organization serving more than 250,000 children, adults, and families affected by crime and abuse in New York City. He was also Director of Budgeting and Financial Analysis at AFS-USA and Financial Analyst at Bank of America. Gordon received his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts and his Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Adelphi University.
Scott Paltrowitz, Associate Director of the Prison Visiting Project (PVP), joined the CA in January 2012. Scott pursues investigation, documentation, and advocacy aimed at improving conditions for individuals incarcerated in New York State. Scott also engages in coalition-building, community outreach, and advocacy challenging particular abuses of the prison system, including solitary confinement, and the lack of adequate medical care and mental health services. Before joining the CA, Scott undertook different forms of refugee, immigration, and human rights advocacy both in the United States and abroad. He received his J.D. at Harvard Law School, his Master’s in Public Administration, and Bachelor’s in Industrial Labor Relations at Cornell University.
Angelo R. Pinto, Campaign Manager for the Juvenile Justice Project, joined the CA in July 2012. Angelo will oversee the CA’s Raise the Age Campaign, which seeks to increase New York State’s age of criminal responsibility, end the practice of housing children in adult jails and prisons, and ensure that children in the justice system receive appropriate rehabilitative services. Prior to joining the CA, Angelo served as Program Manager at the Arthur Ashe Institute where he designed and implemented community interventions in barbershops and beauty salons for formerly incarcerated men and community members to access re-entry information and services. He also served as a Legal Coordinator on Riker’s Island where he taught a legal research course to incarcerated adolescents and adults. In addition, he facilitated a leadership training program for youth on Rikers as part of the CA’s Juvenile Justice Project. He received a J.D. from the City University of New York Law School and a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Clark Atlanta University.
Gabrielle Horowitz-Prisco joined the CA in 2010 as the director of the Juvenile Justice Project. She oversees all of the Project’s principal activities, including developing and implementing youth justice reform advocacy strategies and coordinating the Juvenile Justice Coalition. Prior to joining the CA, Gabrielle served as the Project Manager of the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice Data Collection and Policy Project. Prior to that, she was a Legal Aid Juvenile Rights Practice attorney representing children in Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn Family Court, primarily in child abuse and neglect cases. Gabrielle holds a J.D. cum laude from NYU School of Law where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Fellow, a Master’s from the University of Alabama, and a Bachelor’s magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University where she was a Posse Scholar.
Edward-Yemíl Rosario (Eddie), Associate Director of the Prison Visiting Project, joined the CA in January 2012. Eddie monitors New York State correctional facilities that house men and advocates for the improvement of prison conditions. In addition, he carries out research on system-wide prison issues, engages in coalition-building and community outreach and writes reports to recommend reforms. Prior to joining the CA, he spent ten years at the Developing Justice Project, an innovative, community-based reentry model addressing the needs of men and women returning to their communities after incarceration. Eddie has served on the boards of the Fifth Avenue Committee and the Arthur Ashe Institute and for the past 20 years has worked in various capacities to bring about positive social change within historically marginalized communities. Eddie earned his Bachelor’s in Applied Psychology from New York University.
Ishi Sahni joined the CA in April 2012. As the CA’s Associate Director of Major Gifts, Ishi oversees a wide range of development endeavors, including the cultivation of individual and corporate support. She is also responsible for identifying, developing and engaging major donors in relevant CA activities. Prior to joining the CA, Ishi was Manager of Major Gifts and Special Events at New York Methodist Hospital, managing the hospital’s major gifts portfolio. She also created and implemented community-based programs, advocacy campaigns and fundraising initiatives to assist victims of human rights abuses at the International Rescue Committee and the United Nations. Ishi is a passionate fan of classical and new age music and an advocate for wildlife conservation.
Emerson Soto joined the CA in April 2012. As the Development Associate, Emerson works closely with development and communications staff to manage its donor database, develop fundraising materials, support donor stewardship, plan and execute special events, and collaborate with communications to develop and carry out a social media and web strategy. Since 2009, Emerson has served a number of New York City non-profits working on social justice issues including the North Star Fund and the New York Hotel Trades Council. He is also a certified social studies teacher and taught American history and government to several New York City public schools in Queens, New York. In 2011, Emerson graduated with his Bachelor’s in History and minor in Secondary Education from the City University of New York – Queens College.
Sam joined the CA in 2007. As the CA’s lead grant writer, Sam works closely with development and program staff to articulate work plans, advocacy campaigns, and theories of change to the CA’s institutional funders. Since 2002, Sam has worked at a number of New York City nonprofit organizations, with development and communications positions at AIDS Service Center NYC and Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment. He has a Bachelor’s in English from Appalachian State University and in 2010 received a Master’s in Urban Affairs from Hunter College. He also worked as a Teaching Assistant at Hunter for a graduate-level data analysis course in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning.
Jaya Vasandani, Associate Director of the Women in Prison Project (WIPP), joined the CA in 2004. Jaya helps manage all aspects of the Project, including prison monitoring, legislative and policy advocacy, coalition-building, community organizing and fundraising. Prior to coming to the CA, Jaya worked in the field of federal and state policy advocacy on women’s rights issues as a Policy Associate at the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Center for Women Policy Studies, in Washington, DC. Jaya received her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and her Bachelor’s in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
Jacqueline Velez, Project Assistant for the Women in Prison Project (WIPP), joined the CA in 2009. She is responsible for administrative tasks and projects, which include organizing monthly coalition meetings, maintaining WIPP’s coalition, media and publication distribution data bases, updating educational materials and assisting interns and volunteers. She is a graduate of ReConnect, the Project’s advocacy and leadership training program for formerly incarcerated women. She is also a communications intern for WBAI’s “On The Count – The Prison and Criminal Justice Report” with Eddie Ellis. Before joining the CA, Jacqueline worked as a medical receptionist for eight years. She is working toward an Associate’s Degree in English from the Hostos Community College.
Andrea B. Williams joined the CA in 2004. Andrea manages all aspects of ReConnect, the Women in Prison Project’s leadership training program for formerly incarcerated women. Prior to joining the CA, she was Public Policy Coordinator at the HIV Law Project where she managed the Center for Women’s Organizing, an advocacy training program for women living with HIV and AIDS. Andrea is a lawyer who has worked as a staff attorney at NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund and Bergen County Legal Services in New Jersey. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. Andrea received her J.D. from the Rutgers School of Law and her Bachelor’s in Political Science from Boston University.
Judy Yu, Associate Director of LGBTQ Youth Issues for the Juvenile Justice Project (JJP), joined the CA in 2010. She advocates for the rights and safety of court involved and incarcerated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) youth, including the development and management of a groundbreaking initiative to evaluate the safety of incarcerated LGBTQ young people. She also serves as co-chair of the LGBTQ Working Group of the Juvenile Justice Coalition. Previously, Judy served as Director of Programs at APEX, an organization serving low-income, predominantly immigrant Asian American youth in New York City. She spent six years at the Youth Enrichment Services (YES) Program of the NYC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, where she helped design and oversee health education and arts programming for LGBTQ youth. Judy holds a Master’s in Public Health from Hunter College and a Master’s in Fine Arts from Sarah Lawrence College.