Kat Bakrania, MSW
Kat Bakrania is a Reentry Coordinator with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). Kat comes to YSRP with a background in organizing. She previously worked as a community organizer in Pittsburgh and then Philadelphia, primarily fighting for clean air and water in environmental justice communities; she also has experience as an Asian American Political Organizer. Kat earned her Master of Social Work degree with a certificate in Human Services Management from the University of Pittsburgh and her Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Rochester, where she currently serves on the Steering Committee for Community Engagement. After years of working at the macro-level of social work, Kat is thrilled to be able to build relationships and work directly with client-partners at YSRP.
Contact: email@example.com; 267-225-6825
Jac is an Executive Assistant at the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, she supports YSRP’s Executive Director in carrying out executive functions, both internally and externally. Jac comes to YSRP with extensive administrative experience in both higher education and corporate environments. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus on Development from Temple University, Jac served as the Educational Treatment Counselor and Behavior Manager at a youth residential treatment facility in a Philadelphia suburb. In her previous role, she helped youth, primarily from underrepresented neighborhoods, achieve their educational and personal passions. Jac is very enthusiastic about applying her administrative background to support the mission and values of YSRP.
Director of Development and Communications
As the Director of Development and Communications at the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP), Jessika leads YSRP’s fundraising efforts and manages all external communications. Jessika comes to YSRP with a strong background in research, data analysis, and grants management. After starting her nonprofit career at the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College, Jessika relocated to Philadelphia and began work at Drexel’s Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice. Inspired to ensure that programs had the sustainable funding they needed to operate effectively, Jessika chose to grow her fundraising skills at the American Friends Service Committee and Benefits Data Trust. She has a master’s degree in Urban Studies and Public Administration from the City University of New York (CUNY) where she also earned her undergraduate degree in International Studies and Development.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 267-703-8048
David is the Program Coordinator for the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, he is responsible for supporting YSRP’s case advocacy team, organizing its various programs, and imagining and implementing new initiatives for the organization. David comes to YSRP with a background in education: having taught middle school social studies in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, and college-level arts courses to individuals who are incarcerated, he is well acquainted with the ways in which young people – especially those who are Black – are targeted by the carceral state. He obtained a degree in Black studies from Swarthmore College, and identifies as an abolitionist; as such, he is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to YSRP’s work and mission.
Alicia Doorey, MSW, LSW
Alicia is a mitigation specialist at YSRP. In this role, they partner with youth who face charges within the adult criminal justice system and provide comprehensive strategic mitigation services and case advocacy support. They identify as an abolitionist and believe that just as our current system was created over time, a new and more humanizing system can be created in its place. Alicia has worked at the public defender office in Philadelphia doing mitigation work with individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness. Their work focuses on trauma, healing, personal autonomy, and transformative possibilities. They obtained their Bachelor’s degree from Penn State and a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. Alicia was also a YSRP intern in 2018 and is very excited to be back.
Contact: email@example.com; (215) 821-8870
Bianca van Heydoorn
Bianca van Heydoorn is the Executive Director at the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, she provides strategic leadership and guidance to YSRP’s four departments: Case Advocacy, Development and communications, Finance and Operations, and Policy. Prior to joining YSRP, Bianca was a Senior Director at Philadelphia’s Office of Reentry Partnerships. Earlier in her career, she worked directly with adolescents; developed programs to intervene in commercial sexual exploitation, prepared teens for employment, helped incarcerated students and returned citizens engage in post-secondary education; and influenced policy related to conditions of confinement. Bianca has an undergraduate degree in Correctional Sociology from the City University of New York and a graduate degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College.
Speakers Bureau Coordinator
Shariff is a Speakers Bureau Coordinator at the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, he fulfills requests to share our mission by those most affected by youth incarceration using trauma-informed, valued-aligned processes, centering our client-partners in the work by giving them the opportunity to share their personal experiences with mass incarceration. In addition to facilitating requests from schools, organizations, media outlets, or anyone wanting to know about the work of YSRP, Sharif shares his personal story and that of other former juvenile lifers. Incarcerated at age 15, Shariff himself was charged and convicted in adult court, and sentenced to a mandatory life sentence without any chance for parole. He served 23 years before being released after a US Supreme Court decision (Montgomery V. Louisiana) made retroactive an earlier decision in that court (Miller V. Alabama) that it was unconstitutional to sentence children to a mandatory life sentence without parole.
Since being released, Shariff has worked full-time in construction, starting off doing highway concrete paving, and then moving on to building bridges. He has worked as a laborer in the bridge division for two years, primarily in Montgomery and Berks counties.
For the past two years, Shariff has sat on the Advisory Committee for The PA Prison Society. He is also a member of the Intergenerational Healing Circle (IGHC) at YSRP. Since being released from prison in 2020 Shariff has also worked hard to mentor youth. with organizations such as IDAAY (Institute for the Development of African American Youth) in Philadelphia: a program for children who have been labeled “high risk” for violence Shariff’s story was also mentioned In Patrice Gaines Chapter in the book “Say Their Names: How Black Lives Came To Matter In America”.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 215-326-9791
Margot Isman is the Policy Director with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, she supports and implements the campaigns for YSRP’s policy priorities. Prior to her work with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, Margot was a Deputy Director at the Crime and Justice Institute, where she led policy engagements on youth justice issues in states around the country, in the process working with legislators and stakeholders across the political spectrum. Margot has previously consulted with non-profit organizations around the world on their data collection and management systems as Managing Director at Vera Solutions, and served as a Legislative Aide in the Massachusetts State House. She received a Masters of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a BA from Stanford University.
Contact: email@example.com; 413-320-5932
Don Ike Jones
Don “Ike” Jones is a Reentry Coordinator with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, he coordinates efforts to garner the necessary resources to support former Juvenile Lifers and youth client-partners returning to the community from prison, jail, or placement. Ike is a former Juvenile Lifer himself, and brings to his role more than 20 years of experience assisting men with similar backgrounds to obtain resources to support their reentry, such as stable housing and employment. Ike comes to YSRP most recently from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, where he worked as a Crime Intervention Specialist. For more than 17 years, Ike has served as a member of the Temple University Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program’s Think Tank and as the co-founder of several organizations during his incarceration at SCI-Graterford, including Real Street Talk, Community Forgiveness & Restoration Initiative, and the United Community Action Network (UCAN), among others. He also served as the president of the Graterford branch of the NAACP, where he managed the day-to-day operations of the organization and hosted events with State and local elected officials.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 267-476-4756
Maura is the Administrative Associate for the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, she provides capacity support to the Case Advocacy team and YSRP’s general operations, managing critical details to ensure that staff has what they need to effectively move YSRP’s mission. She brings with her over 15 years of experience with nonprofits in an administrative role, focusing on office and technology management. Most recently, she served as Office Manager at Bread & Roses Community Fund, Philadelphia’s leading funder of grassroots organizing, for eight years. Maura is grateful for the opportunity to bring her love of managing many moving parts to the paramount work of fighting for the rights of YSRP’s client partners.
Contact: email@example.com; 302-689-3079
John Lopez, Esq.
John Lopez is a Staff Attorney with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, he supports our Case Advocacy team by partnering with youth charged as adults in their individual cases, supporting the Youth Advocacy Project at the University of Pennsylvania, and providing case consultation and technical assistance to other attorneys. Prior to joining YSRP John worked at the Defender Association of Philadelphia and taught at Drexel University School of Law. At the Defender, John worked as a trial attorney in several units, served on the Recruitment and Development Committee, and as a mentor attorney. At Drexel, John taught classes on legal writing and restorative justice. Most recently, John worked with The National Association of Public Defenders (NAPD) and the YES! organization. At NAPD, John trained on topics related to public defender wellness. With YES!, John helped to organize and facilitate annual gatherings for legal professionals who want to heal and deepen their connections on personal, interpersonal, and systemic levels. John graduated from East Stroudsburg University with degrees in Political Science and Philosophy. He is an alum of the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law.
Senior Reentry Coordinator
John Pace is the Senior Reentry Coordinator with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, he coordinates efforts to garner the necessary resources to support former Juvenile Lifers and youth client-partners returning to the community from prison, jail, or placement. As a former Juvenile Lifer himself–John spent 31 years in prison, beginning at age 17–he was actively involved in numerous initiatives while incarcerated to help support his personal transition back to the community and that of other Juvenile Lifers. John is a certified paralegal and a former member of the Para-Professional Law Clinic (PPLC) at Graterford prison. He was on the management team of the Prison Literacy Project (PLP); served as the Chairman of the Juvenile Lifers Committee in the Lifers organization at Graterford, and as a Think Tank member of The Temple Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program at Graterford, where he participated in the training over 600 instructors throughout the world in the Inside-Out pedagogy. In 2014, he became a certified instructor in the Inside-Out Pedagogy, which teaches the art of facilitating dialogue. While incarcerated, John earned his Associates Degree and Bachelor’s Degree from Villanova University, with minors in sociology and criminal justice. John Pace was named the first-ever recipient of the Raymond Pace Alexander Reentry Star of the Year Award in June 2018 in recognition of his tremendous accomplishments since returning home from prison.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 267-703-8053
Emily Robb, Esq., MSW
Director of Advocacy
Emily Robb, Esq. serves as the Director of Advocacy at the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project(YSRP). In this role, she is responsible for integrating, planning, and supervising our case advocacy team and the day-to-day operations of our client-partner-facing work. She comes to YSRP with a 13-year career at the public defender office in Philadelphia, where she held a number of different positions, including as an Assistant Defender in the major trial unit, Juvenile Special Defense Unit, Penn Law Criminal Defense Clinic Instructor, and as Chief of the South Zone. Prior to graduating from law school at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she interned with the Innocence Project, Emily was a social worker in New York City. Emily earned her Master of Science in Social Work (MSW) from Columbia University School of Social Work and her Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Cornell University.
Contact: email@example.com; 267-703-8050
Senior Mitigation Specialist
Annie Ruhnke is a Senior Mitigation Specialist at the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP) with specialized training in trauma and mental health issues. In this role, she provides mitigation oversight and reentry and legal support to support client-partners who face charges in the adult criminal justice system, providing comprehensive strategic mitigation services and case advocacy support. After obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice at George Washington University, Ms. Ruhnke joined the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Delaware, where she conducted life history investigations across the country. Ms. Ruhnke has worked on post-conviction death penalty cases at both the state and federal levels and has presented at national trainings on topics surrounding mitigation investigations in capital cases. In addition to developing social histories, Ms. Ruhnke is especially interested in restorative justice and redemption.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 267-703-8051
Traci Hjelt Sullivan
Director of Finance and Operations
Traci Hjelt Sullivan is the Director of Finance and Operations with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project (YSRP). In this role, she provides oversight of the organization’s fiscal and operational health. She has several decades of non-profit management experience, including serving as Co-Director of the Ben Lomond Quaker Center in California and the Interim Executive Director of Pendle Hill in Wallingford, PA. She is particularly pleased to work with YSRP because of its commitment to anti-racist values and actions.
Contact: email@example.com; (267) 332-7102
Eleanor Myers, Esq.
Eleanor Myers, Esq., is a YSRP Senior Adviser, regularly supporting YSRP’s Reentry Team, and working to advance policy to improve conditions for those on life-time parole. Eleanor previously was a tenured faculty member at Temple Law School where she taught, published and consulted in the areas of Professional Responsibility and business law. She also served as Interim Dean of Students and taught internationally in Rome, Beijing, Tokyo, and Manila. At Temple, she received a Lindback award for distinguished teaching, the Stauffer award for outstanding service to the university and a national award for developing problem-solving curriculum. She was appointed by two university Presidents as NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative and she also served as vice chair of the University Disciplinary Board.
Prior to teaching, Eleanor practiced law at Fine Kaplan and Black, Served as Associate General Counsel at Temple University, and was an associate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center on Professionalism. Eleanor has been active outside the University, having served as Vice-Chair of the Division 1 NCAA Committee on Infractions and has been appointed to several NCAA working groups. She has also served on the board of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and as a member and chair of several NASDAQ/OMX hearing panels and committees. She has been a board member of the Women’s Medical Fund, Women’s Law Project, Women’s Way, and the Philadelphia chapter of the ACLU. She has won awards and recognition for community service. Eleanor graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and its law school, magna cum laude. She is an elected member of the Order of the Coif, American Law Institute, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Eleanor is an avid sports fan, especially of Temple basketball, and loves to sing.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; leave a voicemail for Eleanor at 267-703-8046
Intergenerational Healing Circle Facilitators
Kempis (Ghani) Songster
IGHC Facilitator, Men & Boys
Kempis Songster, also known as Ghani, is the Program Manager of Restorative Justice Diversion with the Youth Art & Self- empowerment Project. He spent the first seven years of his life carefree in the beautiful islands nation of Trinidad & Tobago; his next 8 years as an honor student in the concrete jungles of Brooklyn, NY; four months as a runaway selling cocaine from drug houses in Philadelphia; followed by 30+ years in prison on a sentence to life without parole/death by incarceration that began at the age of 15. He occupied his time behind prison walls trying to regain his humanity and moral rectitude and learning how to advocate for the humanity of others. He is a founding member of Right to Redemption, and a founding member of the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (CADBI). He is a co-founder of The Redemption Project. He is also co-founder and director of Ubuntu Philadelphia. His case is the focus of the Transom and Frontline two-part documentary Living With Murder by Samantha Broun and Jay Allison. In 2019, Living With Murder was among eight Frontline features to be honored with the rare Gold Baton from the Alfred Dupont Columbia Awards. Before joining the staff of YASP, Kempis worked for three years as Healing Justice Organizer with the Amistad Law Project. He was also the co-creator and host of Amistad’s monthly podcast show Move It Forward. In the three years since his release, Kempis has been active in the fight for a more livable world.