Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Being abandoned and on my own since the age of 14, I’ve personally known the injustices of poverty, incarceration, and homelessness. Suffering from emotional pains and without guidance and resources I had made poor decisions which reverberated throughout my life for the next twenty-one years.
Instead of helping me overcome my emotional trauma, economic instability, and lack of opportunity, our criminal justice system exacerbated these problems. This deepened the anger and resentment I felt, reaffirming my belief that it was “me against the world”. And it wasn’t until I went through a series of profound spiritual events that I was able to begin seeking a new path. A path that I had discovered, one could not travel alone.
This path of change starts with the individual, it spreads to their inner-circle, and then impacts their community. We have all seen countless people, groups, and organizations wanting to see positive change. But I believe that in order to have meaningful and sustainable change within our criminal justice system, it must come from all directions, with input from every stakeholder.
We need individual change from within, and public perception change from without.
We need systemic change from the top, and community change from the bottom.
We need a change in actions from the left, and a change in values from the right.
Although I’m constantly reminded of the good that people want to achieve, I continuously witness the struggles and barriers they face. Ineffective communication, limited resources, and a lack of centralization often hinder effective collaboration. Seeing these challenges is what inspired the development of this site. My hope is that people will be able to use this platform to begin working together more effectively, and finally bring about change.
Bobby is a social justice change agent and entrepreneur dedicated to improving the lives and economic standing of marginalized communities. His passion for positive change is fueled by his personal life experiences. As a system impacted individual with over 29 years within the criminal justice system, he’s devoted himself to alleviating social injustices and changing the narrative for the formerly incarcerated.
He’s worked in San Francisco’s workforce development, specializing in helping reentry and homeless individuals find employment, secure housing, and increase their educational attainment. He’s a co-chair on the Legislation, Policy, and Practices subcommittee of San Francisco’s Reentry Council and sits on the Strategy Leadership Advisory Team of Excell Network, an organization dedicated to helping the formerly incarcerated change their lives through higher education. He volunteers with numerous organizations including Defy Ventures, Back on My Feet, and has coached students in creating a prosecutorial reform tool at Stanford’s Extreme D.School. Finally, Bobby is also the Deputy Director at California Reentry Institute, a Pre & Post Release Reentry Program serving justice involved individuals in California.
Terrance Blake Sr. is a dedicated representative for the many long-term offenders, homeless, youth and individuals suffering various barriers. He began his current journey after spending 18 years in prison, determined to make a difference.
Upon his own release Terrance began working for Goodwill, mentoring those who came after him on the difficulties and life challenges that the formerly incarcerated face. He went on to work for Hunters Point Family in Civic Center, providing safety and security as well as motivation for newly released lifers.
Terrance has worked as an Activities Coordinator in the Community Building Program for San Francisco’s Central City Hospitality House, while simultaneously working for Recovery Survival Network, a housing provider contracted with adult probation. Although Terrance has worn many hats in his various roles, his specialty is mentoring and connecting with reentry individuals. He’s helped countless people successfully transition back into the community.
Israel Richardson is a prophetic voice to this generation concerning God’s love and inner healing.
As a result of his father being caught in the crack epidemic, he was raised in a single parent home in the small city of Columbia, SC and left home at the age of 17 to venture into the city of Atlanta, GA. While in Atlanta he was a part of the growing hip-hop music industry and experienced success in his field. The haunting nature of temptations, vices and empty promises that success brings, shaped Israel’s journey on the effects of emotional trauma.
He credits this experience as the one major factor that really sparked a beautiful journey of healing and wholeness. Being a creative at heart, since leaving the music industry, Israel has started a media company, developed a gift in public speaking, and developed a program that creates and facilitates healing experiences for those in need. In his own words his life purpose is to heal peoples’ ability to give and receive love. He now is an avid speaker of true emotional healing, love, health, addiction and the Gospel while traveling the U.S. with his family of five.
A leader in community corrections for over 40 years, Linda Connelly has worked with both public and private agencies in the criminal justice field, specializing in reentry, direct service, electronic monitoring, as well as program and policy development.
In 1991, Linda founded Leaders in Community Alternatives (LCA), a community-based organization providing programs throughout California including residential, day reporting and electronic monitoring with case management. She has worked with electronic monitoring since its inception in the 1980’s, developing the first electronic monitoring program for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Ms. Connelly has worked at the State and Federal levels across the country to develop community programs for the criminal justice population that focus on public safety, while addressing root causes of criminal behavior. Her approach has always been in partnership with public and private sector leaders with successes that include a model for residential substance abuse treatment program for homeless parolees which changed the traditional therapeutic community treatment approach, the first rehabilitative private prison in the United States, state-of the art use of technology including the first ever 24-hour alcohol-monitoring tool with SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), GPS when it was first introduced in 2006, and most recently in response to AB 109 (realignment) in California with innovative Day Reporting Center programs.
Linda is routinely relied upon for her expertise and leadership in the field, especially as an informed and impartial voice addressing such critical issues as community-based programs that reduce recidivism, Re-Entry Services from prison and jails, efficient use of criminal justice resources and electronic monitoring.
Born in San Francisco California, United States, from the age of 3 to 16 years old he lived in El Salvador where he survived the extensive violence of the civil war of that country. At 16 he returned to San Francisco and has dedicated his career and mission of life for peace and justice efforts.
Julio founded the San Dimas Community non-profit, an organization focused on the rehabilitation of vulnerable and new migrant youth, youth in gangs, and drug addiction. In addition, Julio coordinates the San Francisco Archdiocese Restorative Justice ministry that supports homicide survivors or co-victims, offenders in jails and prisons, formerly incarcerated reentry and reintegration into society, and families separated by incarceration including ICE deportations. Julio has nearly 25 years of service in restorative justice ministry.
In retirement, Dr. Hu has been devoting his time to help students in rural, remote and disadvantaged regions to access Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and upskilling training.
Dr. Hu received his PhD degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the area of Bayesian Learning and Optimization of Semiconductor Processes. The IEEE journal publication from his PhD thesis, as ranked by Google Scholar, is the most cited in its subject area in the past 25 years.
Dr. Hu also received two executive education certificates from Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB); one on EPGC (Executive Program for Growing Companies), the other on Negotiation and Influence Strategy.
Dr. Hu was a tenure-track faculty member at San Jose State University, appointed first in mechanical engineering and then electrical engineering departments during 1992 to 1996. Engineering students voted Dr. Hu as Professor of the Year in 1993-1994. From 1996, Dr. Hu left university to start or join technology companies as CEO, board director, founders, or advisors.
With over 20 years of customer service and management experience, Sofia’s professional background focuses in the financial services sector.
From 1995 to 2005 Sofia was employed by Bank of America working as a merchant teller and in the vault processing merchant deposits. From 2005 through 2013 she co-owned an international small business selling IT hardware in the U.S. and England. Sofia worked for Farmers Insurance since 2013 as a personal lines manager and became an Agency Owner in 2019.
Sofia is also a professional financial management and insurance lecturer and instructor. She’s volunteered her time offering Financial Literacy webinars to reentry community members sponsored by Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and Defy Ventures. She’s also been a guest on various podcasts and You Tube channels discussing the importance of insurance.