Who I Will Be

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On May 11, supporters of the Women in Prison Project gathered for a unique bene?t at HBO’s event space overlooking Bryant Park in New York City. After enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, guests settled in HBO’s theater for music, poetry and spoken word, including a moving performance by several graduates of ReConnect, the Project’s leadership training program for formerly incarcerated women.

CA Executive Director Robert Gangi began the evening by welcoming audience members and featured guests, and introduced Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation and CA Board member, who spoke eloquently about the importance of the Women in Prison Project. Composer Tiye Giraud performed her own vocal and percussion piece entitled Sorceress. Playwright Eve Ensler shared a monologue about her experience teaching writing classes for women at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, and actor Hazelle Goodman read a poem written by Norma Stafford, an incarcerated woman confronting her experiences through writing.

The Project’s Community Outreach Coordinator Stacey Thompson emceed the evening, and staff members Tamar Kraft-Stolar, Jaya Vasandani and Andrea Williams spoke about various substantive aspects of the Project’s efforts.

The highlight of the evening was the performance of “Who I Will Be,” a spoken word piece written by Carol Baldwin, Cathy Faust, Lorrayne Patterson, Anisah Thompson and Stacey Thompson, all graduates of ReConnect. The piece was created during a series of workshops facilitated by Project Communications Consultant Kathy Engel and Tiye Giraud. It offered a poignant glimpse into the complexities of post-prison life, capturing the serious challenges women face upon release and their extraordinary potential to be advocates for social change. Susan L. Taylor, Editorial Director of Essence Magazine, closed the evening by urging the audience to continue to support the Project’s vital work.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to HBO, especially Richard Plepler and Jana Herman Madarash; Patrick Fenton and Willy Schwenzfeier of Swayspace for design and printing; and our honorary chairs: actors Minnie Driver, Danny Glover, Diane Keaton, Mercedes Ruehl and Susan Sarandon; actor/director Bob Balaban; playwright Marsha Norman; former State Senator and CA Board member Catherine M. Abate; and former New York City Council Member Ronnie Eldridge. We are also deeply indebted to our bene?t committee for their generous support: Elizabeth Horton, Ann E. Lewis, Alexander Papachristou, Joan Steinberg, Gregg A. Walker, Jan Warren and Monica Winsor