Beth Compa is a Staff Attorney with The Promise of Justice Initiative in New Orleans. She has been practicing law since 2011, concentrating in the area of prisoners’ rights. Beth received her J.D. from Yale Law School and previously earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History.
Rhett Covington is the Assistant Secretary for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections (DPS&C). He has served in this position since January, 2015, and formerly served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for six years. He began his criminal justice career as a Probation & Parole agent and supervisor for 15 years. Mr. Covington is responsible for the Office of Offender Reentry. Mr. Covington is an advisory member of the Louisiana Sentencing Commission. He is the designee for the Secretary of the DPS&C on the Louisiana Reentry Advisory Council and the Workforce Investment Council. He graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
Norris Henderson, current Executive Director of VOTE, a nonprofit organization designed to educate, organize and mobilize formerly incarcerated persons about their right to vote in Louisiana. He is currently the recipient of the 2014 Data News Weekly “Trailblazer of the Year” Award and the 2013 Society of American Law Teachers (S.A.L.T. http://www.saltlaw.org/) M. Shanara Gilbert Human Rights Award. Former OSF Soros Justice Fellow who promoted community organizing and advocacy campaigns to transform the criminal justice system in New Orleans to one that is fair, safe and accountable to all citizens regardless of race and economic status. Norris has had tremendous success in his work impacting public policy and public discourse about police accountability, public defense for poor and indigent people, and reforming the notorious Orleans Parish Prison (OPP).
As someone who was wrongfully incarcerated for 27 years, Norris shares firsthand experience of racism and brutality of the criminal justice system with communities of color across the city. Self-taught in criminal law during his 27 years in prison as a paralegal, advocate and organizer. He is clear that only by working together can communities of color protect themselves from one of the most brutal criminal justice systems in the country and rebuild together a diverse New Orleans rich in culture and community. He has not only achieved significant wins in this area, but he has also built bridges with other communities of color, acting as the VOTE representative in a city-wide coalition on race and criminalization, regularly speaking publicly in support of underprivileged community in New Orleans and immigrant workers rights, and acting as a general liaison to other community organizations in the city.
He continues to provide valuable insight into the concerns, questions and needs of prisoners, the formerly incarcerated and their families.
Olivia Kacsits is a second year Master’s in Public Health Candidate at Tulane University concentrating in Community Health Sciences. She serves as the Graduate Assistant for this particular project and as a Research Assistant for the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Prior to graduate school in New Orleans, Olivia was a Pre-professional Sciences student at the University of Notre Dame. During her time at Notre Dame, she was a student-athlete on the women’s rowing team and worked with a variety of community members with differing health needs, primarily AIDS and cancer. She also co-founded the University of Notre Dame chapter of You Can Play, an organization that emphasizes acceptance and respect among LGBTQ student-athletes.
James Logan serves as the Reentry Services Program Manager for the City of New Orleans under the NOLA For Life Initiative (nolaforlife.org). He is charged with facilitating a strategic plan to streamline the employment pipeline for people transitioning out of incarceration through rapid attachment to work and linkages to wraparound services for non-employment needs.
Prior to his work with the Mayor’s Office, he was the Project Director for iMapVentures, a national nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth and their communities through youth development and resource mapping. He is also the co-creator of the ilivehere software, part of a directory of youth resources and opportunities developed by youth, for youth, currently being implemented across the nation and abroad.
Prior to his work with iMapVentures, James worked as a Community Development attorney working primarily with low-income individuals and nonprofits. He has participated in the creation and maintenance of numerous nonprofits and community businesses. James has also devoted significant time to causes and campaigns for underrepresented people throughout New Orleans and New York City. He is a member of the 100 Black Men of Metro New Orleans and also serves as the Treasurer of the Better Choice Foundation, dedicated to the governance of the Mary D. Coghill Charter School in New Orleans.
He is a graduate of Loyola College in Maryland and Fordham Law School.
Dolfinette Martin is the Lead Organizer for Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE). Dolfinette previously worked with New Orleans Pretrial Services through an internship from HANO Section 3 program and has been an employee for more than 2 years with NOPTS. She is a resident of Crescent Estates formerly known as Fischer Housing Projects; however, she was raised in Calliope Housing Projects now known as Marrero Commons. Prior toNOPTS Dolfinette was working as a relocation assistant with Moveroos moving services and attending Delgado Community College as a full-time student. Dolfinette graduated in December 2015 with her Associates of Applied Science degree, and has returned to school pursuing a Computer Information Technology degree, with a concentration in Program Analysis. Dolfinette is a formerly incarcerated woman who served 7 years in LCIW and has been committed to helping other women with their transition from prison to society since her release in April 2012. She is a community activist, leader, and role model for at risk youth, those still incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women who are re-entering society after years on the inside.
Laura McTighe has worked as an advocate, organizer and writer on issues at the intersection of HIV/AIDS and mass incarceration for nearly twenty years. As the founding Director of Prison Services at Philadelphia FIGHT, she supported the launch of the city’s first formerly incarcerated-led center for reentry health care and post-incarceration AIDS activism. In 2010, Laura oversaw the expansion of this project into the Institute for Community Justice, a vibrant organizing hub for all people affected by incarceration in the greater Philadelphia area. During this time, she also began a deep organizing partnership with Women With A Vision in New Orleans, which drove her to relocate to New Orleans and recenter her life's work on supporting local organizers in documenting their own histories of collective struggle. Currently, Laura is completing her PhD in Religion at Columbia University, with a focus on race, gender, religion and migration in the American South. She holds an M.T.S. in Islamic Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. in Religion from Haverford College.
Anjali Niyogi is a physician at Tulane University and is the director of the FIT (Formerly Incarcerated Transitions) clinic in New Orleans. She has a strong background in global health and has worked in multiple countries in Africa and Asia. Her focus is on education and capacity building for improved access to medical care.
Ben Springgate is an internist and faculty member at LSUHSC. He has strong interests in improving population health, quality of care, and in reducing health disparities.
Ashley Wennerstrom is as assistant professor of clinical medicine at Tulane School of Medicine. She directs a required community health clerkship that trains future physicians to address social determinants of health. Ashley conducts patient centered or community partnered participatory research on domestic violence, the health needs of formerly incarcerated individuals, behavioral health, and the community health worker profession. She has had the honor of providing end-of-life care for formerly incarcerated friends.