CEPP Justice Policy Consultants

Uplifting and integrating lived experience and expertise into CEPP projects


CEPP seeks to ensure that currently and formerly incarcerated people have opportunities to apply their lived experience, collective skills, and intellectual power to CEPP’s varied projects. In 2024, CEPP launched its first cohort of Justice Policy Consultants. Through this project, CEPP builds community with, prepares, and works alongside consultants with lived experience to improve criminal legal policy and culture and co-create community justice strategies that reduce harm and increase well-being for all. 

Our Approach

The central values that drive this initiative are inclusivity, diversity, racial equity, and gender equity. Intentionally and thoughtfully, CEPP prepares justice policy consultants to contribute to training, technical assistance, and new resources. Equally as important, CEPP prepares its own staff and the criminal legal system stakeholders with whom we work to engage the justice policy consultants. This helps ensure that our team and our collaborators are prepared to accept these expert voices into our spaces genuinely and productively.

The Impact

This diverse group of talented experts represents the voices of people across the U.S. who have experienced the direct impacts of our criminal legal system: the damaging and traumatizing aspects as well as the transformative ones. Convening this group of people with both lived experience and expertise will allow CEPP to continue to ensure that the voices of people most impacted by the system are contributing to the policy changes necessary to push the system toward practices that center the dignity of people, achieve procedural justice, and deliver improved outcomes for all stakeholders. These consultants will bring a solutions-focused orientation to projects across CEPP while representing the voices and realities of the people most impacted by the criminal legal system.

Additionally, by participating in project activities with CEPP staff, the consultants will illuminate the system’s often unknown nuances while simultaneously normalizing the presence of impacted experts within the work. CEPP hopes to model for the field the positive results that emerge from strong and equitable engagement with people directly impacted by the system.

We welcome the inaugural cohort of CEPP Justice Policy Consultants.

Ashia Wilson (she/her) is a mother, author, podcast host, faith-based clothing brand owner, and advocate for returning citizens and unhoused people. Originating from Lansing, Michigan, she embarked on her advocacy journey in 2022 with Nation Outside. This grassroots organization, led by formerly incarcerated people, works tirelessly to remove barriers for returning citizens across Michigan. Her commitment to service led her to the role of Program Coordinator for Northwest Initiative, providing crucial wraparound services for people on probation and parole. Today, she is the Manager of Authentic Engagement for the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness. She strives to diversify partnerships, develop programs, and amplify the experiences of those who have lived through homelessness. Ashia also serves diligently on the Michigan Homeless Policy Council. She leverages her experiences to act as an agent of change for the system-impacted. Her core belief is that everyone deserves a second chance, a principle that guides her work.

Consuela “Sway” Gaines (she/her) served 22 years of incarceration at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel. She has been home for 7 years. For nearly as long as she has been free, she has been a chapter organizer for Voice of the Experienced (VOTE). VOTE does policy, legislative, and advocacy work for currently and formerly incarcerated people. While incarcerated, she represented women as a jailhouse lawyer, Big Sister, tutor, Advisory Council Member, Club President, and more. Now, she represents incarcerated people as an advocate and supporter. She has received two awards for advocacy work in her community and was recently nominated again. She is a certified life coach for system-involved people through Moorehouse School of Medicine; is a Community Outreach Perinatal Educator, certified to provide doula support, lactation support, and childbirth education; and is currently working toward her Bachelor in Business Administration at Strayer University in Virginia.

Daniel A. Rosen (he/him) is a justice reform advocate and writer who was incarcerated in Virginia and Washington, DC, from 2015 to 2021. Before co-founding the Coalition for Carceral Nutrition, he worked as an advocacy Campaign Manager for Worth Rises, a nonprofit working to dismantle the prison industry and its exploitation. Prior to incarceration, Daniel spent almost 20 years in public service in nonprofit and governmental sectors. He served at the Departments of State and Defense, including as Director of Counterterrorism Programs at the State Department. Daniel has been recognized throughout his career for the successful management of programs, people, and funds to serve the public trust. Daniel holds a master’s degree from Tufts University and a BA with Honors from UCLA. He’s traveled to over 60 countries and currently resides in Washington, DC.

Eugene Youngblood (he/him) is a resilient individual with a profound commitment to transformation and healing. He emerged from a 29-year incarceration journey to become a beacon of hope and facilitator of change. Arrested at 18, Eugene defied the odds and was released in 2021, having undergone a remarkable personal metamorphosis during his time behind bars. Recognized for his extraordinary journey of redemption, Eugene currently dedicates his efforts to supporting youth in Washington State’s juvenile detention institutions as well as high school students. With a profound belief in the power of healing and transformation, Eugene embodies the mantra that people don’t change; they heal.

Joey H. Green is a Columbus, Ohio, native who currently holds the position of Program Coordinator for the Columbus Urban League’s Reentry Hub Program. He holds several volunteer positions: he is one of the Frederick Douglass Project’s Ohio Ambassadors, a member of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners Justice Policy & Programs, Vice-President of WE ARE LINDEN, Chairman for Linden4Life, and an Advisory Board Member for the Franklin Medical Center’s inmate computer program,Administrative Professional Support.” Joey has several missions: he is dedicated to ensuring justice-involved people have a successful reentry, reducing recidivism, and enhancing public safety. He attends many correctional institutions’ resource fairs to inform returning citizens about available resources in Franklin County, Ohio. 

Kyle Colleen Black was born and raised in Oregon. For more than 20 years, she has volunteered as a Life Coach for women in need of support and is a licensed Peer Support & Addictions Mentor. Her desire to help people led to her employment as a Policy and Outreach Associate for the Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC). OJRC is a nonprofit law firm that prioritizes providing accessible legal representation and services to community members who are affected by poverty, gender bias, racial disparity, and the carceral system. She represents OJRC at Oregon’s Capitol, speaking with leadership about changes to the current incarceration system and testifying for bills that OJRC is initiating/supporting or opposing. Kyle is on an Advisory Panel created by the Governor that is developing 2025 legislative concepts that hopefully will improve incarceration throughout Oregon. Kyle loves asking, “If you were contagious, what would people catch?”

Marisol Garcia  (she/her) is a justice-impacted scholar who graduated from Trinity College with a Master’s in Public Policy; she currently attends Vermont Law School. Marisol is currently a Yale Prison Education College to Career Fellow (2022–2024) and previously was in the Yale Law School Access Program (2021–2023). Marisol works on policy and research on the intersection of criminal justice and public health.  She hopes that her continued research on carceral policy and health outcomes will benefit those who are justice-impacted.

Michael Beltran (he/him) is a dedicated peer support specialist and behavioral health technician with a strong background in assisting justice-impacted people. Drawing on his own experiences, he has devoted his career to supporting those affected by the criminal legal system, serving in various roles, including family support partner, group facilitator, and client support specialist. He is also an educator, regularly facilitating trainings for mental health professionals to earn continuing education credits, with a focus on opioid use disorders and forensic topics. He is passionate about advocating for fair and equitable treatment within the justice system and strives to ensure that all parties are recognized and respected throughout the process. In his personal time, he enjoys engaging in art, playing chess, cooking, and keeping active through exercise. 

Pamela Neely (she/her) is a proud graduate of the Women Transcending Collective Leadership Institute, Columbia University–Cohort 3. She is a dedicated member of the Women’s Community Justice Association and is also involved with its Justice 4 Women Task Force. Pamela is a member of New Hour for Women and Children, where she completed the EMERGE program. While training with EMERGE, she developed a strong passion for advocacy. Throughout much of her life, Pamela was in and out of the criminal legal system; since her return to the community she has taken many positive steps and has changed her life for the better. Her experiences include prevention case management, grant-funded case management, and gathering information and contributing to monthly reports to the AIDS Institute and Ryan White Funding. Pamela’s real passion is speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves. Helping others is her life; she believes in what she does. We all at some point in our life need a second chance.

Patrick Rodriguez (he/him) is the Co-Executive director of the Georgia Coalition for Higher Education in Prison. Patrick builds high-quality educational pathways to degree completion for incarcerated people throughout the state of Georgia and beyond. Through his work with the National Executive Council at Columbia University’s Center for Justice, he is widely known as a national thought leader on prison education programs and policy. He works on national initiatives that address policy change and coalition building to strengthen state responses to challenges they face. He leads with the lived experience of incarceration. Since his release, he has expanded in-prison degree programs, increased enrollment of new students who are incarcerated and created reentry initiatives across multiple states to support continued education during incarceration and post-release. He was recently named to Jezebel Magazine’s inaugural 40 under 40 list and is currently a Fund for New Leadership Fellow. 

Ruby Welch (she/her) is a Motivational speaker, Criminal and Restorative Justice Advocate, Healing Hostess, and Founder of  F.E.L.O.N (Formerly Incarcerated Empowered Leaders Overcoming Negative Stigmas). After experiencing first-hand the harmful effects of serving seven years in the Arkansas Department of Correction, Ruby vowed to educate her community about the disparities of incarceration and its lasting effects on individuals. Ruby is currently employed as the Justice Campaign Manager with Dream.Org. She was previously employed by the University of Arkansas for Medical Science as a Community Health Coordinator, where she educated detainees at the Pulaski County Detention Center on various health risks and concerns. Ruby has received numerous awards for her work within the Criminal and Restorative Justice community. She is a 2023 Alumni of both  JLUSA Leading with Conviction and Columbia University Women’s Transcending Collective Leadership Institute. As an Ambassador for #Cut50 in 2019, Ruby was instrumental in the passing and signing into law #Dignity Arkansas for incarcerated women. Ruby views her work as an extension of her Christian Faith.

Shahiem Smith (he, him) is a dedicated and compassionate professional, currently serving as the Outreach Worker Supervisor for SNUG Street Outreach programs. Born and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, Shahiem grew up in communities facing significant challenges, which fueled his passion for giving back and making a positive impact. Shahiem’s personal experiences, including having an older brother who became entangled in the criminal legal system, have driven him to work toward addressing disparities within the system and preventing other youth from following the same path as his brother. He takes great joy in connecting with young people and guiding them toward alternatives to high-risk activities, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to nurturing their potential and creating positive change within his community.

Turning setbacks into stepping stones, Stanley Feliciano (he/they) leveraged his 7 years in the system to fuel his passion for social justice. While incarcerated, he earned an Associate’s degree in Human Services and co-wrote a gardening curriculum with the Sustainability in Prisons Project. He also facilitated peer support groups, focusing on coping with incarceration and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Stanley brought with him the unique perspective of being a Child of a Deaf Adult (CODA). This provided him with firsthand insight into the challenges of the incarcerated deaf population and opportunities to advocate on their behalf. Currently, he volunteers with Black and Pink, an organization that advocates for and provides penpal services to incarcerated LGBTQIA+ people.

Undrea “Gem” Jones (she/her) is an organizer, motivational speaker, advocate, and change maker. She is dedicated to bringing about intentional restorative justice changes within her community—for the betterment of all people—while building bridges with love. Through her work as a motivational speaker, Gem has helped countless people find their voice by using hers in several forums. As an expert with lived experience, Gem’s voice has been heard all over the country at summits, conferences, judiciary hearings, and panels, as well as in the halls of Congress in Washington, DC. As a change maker, she has been instrumental in bringing about real change in her community, working to create a more just and equitable society for all.