2015 Communications Institute
On June 7-10, 2015, The Opportunity Agenda conducted its sixth annual Communications Institute, focusing on an issue growing in national importance and relevance: Criminal Justice. In 2015, 17 Fellows dedicated themselves to learning and refining their communications skills and working with The Opportunity Agenda in a six-month residency program following the Institute. They then boldly pushed a new criminal justice narrative forward by speaking to local and national media to successfully achieve policy and culture change.
During the Communications Institute we worked with the Fellows on framing the criminal justice discourse in a way that tells a larger story, while allowing them to speak specifically to their own issues, such as racial profiling, the school-to-prison pipeline, and gender and sexuality concerns. Past Institutes have focused on immigration; home opportunity; and race, gender, and economic opportunity.
The 2015 Communications Institute was made possible, in part, by the generous contributions of Atlantic Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, the Libra Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The JPB Foundation, and individual donors.
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Meet the 2015 Fellows
Dante Barry is a grassroots organizer, digital campaigner, and the Executive Director of Million Hoodies Movement for Justice. Previously, Dante ran campaigns, organizing, and leadership development programs for national progressive organizations including the Center for Media Justice, the Roosevelt Institute, School Based Health Alliance, and the Political Development Group, LLC....Get To know Dante
Khalil A. Cumberbatch is a formerly incarcerated advocate for social justice movements within the NYC area. He has worked within the re-entry community in NYC since 2010, when he was released after serving almost seven years in the NYS prison system. Since his release, Khalil has worked with various nonprofits...Get To know Khalil
Soffiyah Elijah is the Executive Director of the Correctional Association (CA) of New York. She is the first woman and the first person of color to lead this extraordinary organization in its mission to create a fairer and more humane criminal justice system. Under her leadership, the CA now celebrates...Get To know Soffiyah
Ricardo Favela is the son of migrant workers who settled in North San Diego County. Ricardo has been involved in social justice issues in his community since high school. He is currently the Communications Director of Alliance San Diego and provides strategic communications for the Southern Border Communities Coalition. He...Get To know Ricardo
Kassandra Frederique is the New York Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. She works to build powerful coalitions in communities devastated by drug misuse and the war on drugs. Kassandra currently manages the Fairness and Equity campaign, which is working throughout New York state to end racially biased marijuana...Get To know Kassandra
Jamila is a queer first-generation Tunisian- Arab woman of color community organizer and social worker from the South now based in New York. She is a Founder and Executive Director of the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project. She is a graduate of the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College...Get To know Jamila
Caroline holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the College of Wooster and a Masters in Social Work from Arizona State University. She has authored several reports on the poor performance of for-profit incarceration in Arizona, including Private Prisons: The Public’s Problem (2011), which has been cited nationally as...Get To know Caroline
Elon James White is a writer, performer, radio host, and CEO of This Week in Blackness Media, LLC, which is the home of the award-winning web series This Week in Blackness and TWiB! Radio. Elon has been featured on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry, Up With Chris (Now All In With Chris...Get To know Elon
Roberta became the Director of the National H.I.R.E. Network in 2007. Before this, she held other policy and direct service positions at the Legal Action Center. She has worked to improve criminal justice policies that directly affect employment and re-entry opportunities for people with criminal records; trained hundreds of workforce...Get To know Roberta
Vivian Nixon is Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship (CCF), an organization committed to removing individual and structural barriers to higher education for women with criminal record histories and their families. She is currently a Columbia University Community Scholar and has received multiple honors, including the John Jay Medal...Get To know Rev. Vivian