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David Heppard
Director of Vision and Values

David knows first-hand the impacts of mass incarceration, after receiving a life sentence at the age 16. In his words, “being thrown away at 16 years old wasn’t the event. It was an exclamation point” on the consistent messaging he’s been receiving his whole life from systems that failed to see his humanity. He was released after serving 24 years, following legislative reform of juvenile sentencing standards due to a new understanding of youth brain science. He now works to develop community partnerships with individuals, groups and movements who share an alignment with and affinity for dismantling systems of oppression. David is the former Executive Director of Freedom Project. David became Freedom Project’s Executive Director in 2018 when the organization had a handful of staff, a $200,000 budget and 50 volunteers supporting NVC workshops inside prisons. As a result of the collective efforts of the team and community, David helped build a team and a purpose that better represented the community they served. Five years later, with a $4 million annual budget, a team of 26 full-time staff was able to engage with hundreds of community members inside and outside of the prisons, actively working to stay accountable to and showing up for the community in a way that’s needed. Most importantly, David brought together a team that is over 90% composed of Black and brown people impacted by incarceration. Under David’s stewardship, Freedom Project expanded to meet community needs for culturally responsive and trauma informed reentry support, housing, legislative advocacy, and policy change. In 2021 Freedom Project was chosen to be part of a 16-jurisdictional initiative under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Comprehensive Strategy to reduce, prevent, and respond to community-based gun violence. David also guided Freedom Project’s implementation of organizational policies designed to dismantle white supremacy culture, centering the values of a community that has a rich and living history of organizing and fighting against oppressive systems. David frequently consults with and advocates for other community organizations, nonprofits, and funders to implement similar anti-oppressive policies and practices. He is passionate about passing on knowledge about the impacts of mass incarceration, juvenile justice, systemic racism, and reentry at universities, law schools, community engagement events, and he serves on numerous advisory boards, such as Seattle’s Criminal Legal System Realignment Taskforce. David co-facilitates anti-oppression workshops and was in the second cohort of Unlocked Futures’ social entrepreneurs impacted by the criminal injustice system, formed through a partnership with New Profit and John Legend's nonprofit organization FREEAMERICA. He is also a Credible Messenger, which is a national initiative of adults from similar backgrounds who work to equip young people with tools to encourage healing and a life filled with hope and transformation. David is committed to centering the voices and acknowledging the humanity of those most impacted. David believes that relationships are our communities most vital resource and the key to our individual and collective healing. “People don’t change, they heal.”

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Karen Taylor
Community Support Specialist

Karen is a community organizer and activist, a consummate artist, singer, actor, and poet. Karen is a lifelong learner who understands the impact of trauma and the possibilities of healing as a pathway to self-expression. Karen has been a champion of people experiencing homelessness, trauma, and oppression for many years, investing her time, energy and heart in the work of changing our systems from the inside and outside. Karen has worked her way as a local leader, to being a sitting member of the Advisory Committee of the King County Regional Homeless Authority, to collaborating on the Ending the Prison Industrial Complex coalition, and the Lived Experience Coalition, among others. In grassroots organizing efforts, Karen is usually the first to set the foundation for humanizing the work. She knows the importance of cultivating others and building collective power between struggles, as seen through her contributions to the Lived Experience Coalition, Village of Hope, Black Priosner’s Caucus, People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, and many other groups. In these spaces, Karen stresses the importance of relationships, understanding history and gatekeeping, and attending to the needs of People of Color, women, young people, and the LGBTQ community. Karen brings her talent, skills and big heart to the work. She knows first-hand the impact of incarceration as a youth and as an adult and understands the difficulty navigating these systems.


Orlando Ames
Director of Critical Incident Response

Orlando was first incarcerated at the age of 18, then again at the age of 20. At the age of 27 Orlando was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole due to the 3 strikes law. While inside he focused on his healing, education, connecting to his humanity and community. He assumed a guiding role to the younger men that he shared community space with, he refused to let his situation, circumstances, or others define him. He would define himself, in 2012 he received his associate degree from Ohio University. In 2014, Orlando went before the clemency and pardons’ board and received a unanimous decision to commute his sentence of life without parole to one of freedom. After serving 21 years he walked into his freedom going from never to now. His lived experience has provided him with insights and a unique perspective and a witness on the impact of mass incarceration in his community. Subsequently the impact of the mass incarceration of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other youth of Color. As a Credible Messenger he focuses on dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline from the inside out. Orlando is the Director of Critical Incident Response he is responsible for managing Critical Incident Leads and Violence Interrupters. Responding and Deploying to scenes of Critical Incidents or the hospital if needed for community support. Orlando’s reason for doing this work is connected to his lived experience and purpose, it’s his way of giving back and being in service to his community. His story is very connected to the rose that grew from concrete, in spite of not being provided natural light and the things he needed to nurture his growth, healing, and development, he still grew. Sometimes it takes a while for people to become their best selves and no one is disposable but given time, love, and resources, and space for healing their brilliance will shine every time. “I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it.” Maya Angelou

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Tonya Wilson
Director of  Communications

& Engagement

As a Black woman who experienced the dehumanizing impact of incarceration for 17 years, Tonya knows that the needs of previously incarcerated women often go unacknowledged and unmet. She realizes that as the resource advocate of an organization that seeks to disrupt White Supremacy and center the voices and leadership of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and all people of Color, she stands in a position of responsibility for those coming after her. Tonya’s brilliance and passion for advocacy comes from her innate reliance on her gifts of communication and connection with like minded individuals. She helped to create the Women’s Village, a grassroots organization born out of this shared passion and purpose, during her time at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. This peer led group coalesced around the values of autonomy and reliance on the inner resources of self and like minded others to affect change in our current environment which, at the time was the most violent of all of Washington state’s prisons. Our efforts produced a 50% decrease in violent infractions within two years, as well as the creation of the Freedom Education Project of Puget Sound (FEPPS), a Liberal Arts Degree Program that offers Associate and Bachelor degrees to people at WCCW. The Women’s Village organizing effort continues to bear fruit both within and without the prison wall, creating vibrant, robust and relevant partnerships that encourage and support healing and growth. After release, Tonya’s love of learning and teaching others continued to find expression in facilitating workshops and participating on panels that focus on legal system reform and a paradigm shift away from destructive narratives and toward liberation. Tonya values the mindfulness and empathy building potential of the NonViolent Communication model, and works with people similarly positioned, to refresh the NVC model to be one of true inclusion and relevance. She has served on the boards of both FEPPS and Tacoma Seed, an area non profit that supported BIPOC led organizations Hilltop Urban Gardens (HUG) and Canoe Journey Herbalists (CJH). In 2021, Tonya served as the legislative aide to the then-newly appointed State Senator Yasmine Trudeau, representative of the Hilltop of Tacoma. She has also presented as a TEDx speaker and spoken word artist, as well as appearing in the documentary Since I Been Down. Her greatest joy is being part of an extensive and vibrant family in Tacoma, Washington.


Eugene Youngblood
Critical Incident Responder

Eugene Youngblood was arrested in 1991 at 18 years of age. He was set to spend the rest of his life in prison, but in June 2019 the Clemency and Pardons board voted unanimously to recommend release after finding that his personal transformation and the work he did with other incarcerated people was extraordinary. Eugene was released in March of 2021 after serving 29 and a half years. Now Eugene serves his community by doing anti-violence and transformative justice work with young people involved in the criminal legal system. “You should never judge a person by one season alone because the true nature of a person cannot be established by looking at only one season.” The people who gave up on Eugene because he had a bad winter, did not get to see the splendor of his spring, his spectacular summer, or his amazing autumn.


KeWee Roselle
Director of Multi Systems Development / Community Support Specialist

La’Keisha “KeWee'' Roselle is a co-founder of The Black Rose Collective (TBRC). The creation and name of TBRC was inspired by her love for soil, seed, and the soul and how it correlates to the human spirit. The symbolism behind the black rose holds true to KeWee in a significant way. Like TBRC, and why it was established, she too has overcome paralyzing obstacles and represents optimism, new beginnings, power and hope. In 2018, KeWee was legally liberated from the carceral system after 13.5 years and knows first hand the impacts of oppressive systems, generational incarceration, poverty, addiction, and trauma. Social forces, incarceration and addiction devastated KeWee’s family throughout four generations and is one of the motivating factors of why she dedicates herself to the movement. “If my family and community members were properly resourced and had the tools to focus on internal healing, the trajectory of 1000’s of lives would have been saved because they would have been able to live in their brilliance.” Kewee's dedication to healing generational trauma is evident in the gentle care, patience, and loving support she extends to her own little one. KeWee is a firm believer that “people dont change, they heal and when people heal, systems change.” She is a member of the Black Prisoners Caucus Community Group (BPCCG) and does her community work through the BPCCG, Liberation Scholars, and TBRC. KeWee is the Director of Multi-Systems Development and a Community Support Specialist for TBRC and is also a Liberation Education Specialist for the Evergreen Prison Education Project - a team of legally liberated professionals that provides direct support services for system-impacted and recovering students to promote sustainable reentry to college campuses and the greater community through education. KeWee is a Tacoma, WA native and a graduate of The Evergreen State College in Tacoma. She is an alumni and co-founder of the Freedom Education Project of Puget Sound (FEPPS) - an accredited Associates and Bachelor’s degree program for incarcerated women, trans-identified and gender nonconforming people at the Washington Correction Center for Women. She is an alumni of The Womxns Village - a liberation education model that encourages and fosters an atmosphere of growth by harnessing our unique strengths together as individuals and to create a new culture based on the pursuit of personal excellence. KeWee has helped to create liberation education and reintegration curriculum for incarcerated youth and women. She is a nationally certified Credible Messenger, completed the Social Resilience Model Training by Lauri Leitch, BE REAL (REsilient Attitudes and Living) training by the UW’s Center for Child and Family Well-Being, and completed the Alive and Free training by Dr. Marshall. She is a liberation activist, an advocate for education, anti-oppression, and for legally liberated individuals. She believes in the power of storytelling in order to change oppressive systems and is passionate about mass liberation, healing, dismantling oppressive systems, and bringing opportunities to those most harmed by dominant norms and systems in her community. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.” - Alice Walker


Lauren Ephriam

Prison Program Director / Facilitator

Lauren has a unique talent and ability to facilitate and guide people to deeper understandings of themselves and the ways systemic trauma intersects in the lives of everyone. Having been impacted by incarceration as a youth, and having lost loved ones to carceral systems and policing; they has an irreplaceable* stake and commitment to shifting the conditions that cause undue suffering in our lives. They have used her lived and embodied knowledge to support folks that have been the least resourced and most stigmatized, many of whom live on the streets of downtown seattle and are currently incarcerated. Their speciality is offering support to those living within the intersections of homelessness, complex mental health concerns, acute trauma and crisis, as well as addiction. They have an unrelenting commitment to developing and administering trauma-focused and decolonized curriculum to assist in healing relationships with ourselves and those we are in relationship with - utilizing affirming communication and coaching* techniques, bolstered by their lived experience and genuine method of connection. It can often be difficult, but Lauren believes fully that when we identify where symptoms of toxicity we have inherited from our environment, we acquire the ability for true agency. When we can move forward understanding the context in which we make decisions and that we will be held in the process without judgement, the possibilities are endless. Much like the rest of the team, Lauren is a survivor of interpersonal violence. She understands why people turn away from difficult situations, but believes that we must turn toward harm in order to deal with it in a way that cultivates agency and healing. This is her superpower - when complex and hard to handle situations arise she practices meeting people with earnest care, because she knows that those who have harmed her the most were repeating the trauma done unto them. Furthermore, she realizes that when she herself has caused harm it came from a place that was not resourced either externally or internally. For these reasons, she seeks to provide the internal resources we all need so that we may become proficient in navigating complexity* with the ability to choose routes that better serve ourselves and our community. In large part because of her commitment to betterment of the conditions we have inherited, she enjoys activities that bring her in closer connection with herself such as meditation and art, as well as unpacking the nuances of group facilitation and staying in constant study. Though she has already shown to have incredible positive impact in the lives of those she has served, she is also working on a Master’s degree in Couples & Family Therapy so that she may not only garner more tools to support others; but also to use her experience and service to write therapeutic frameworks that better reflect the concerns and experiences of folks who are largely erased and ignored in traditional clinical discourse. (As she has seen too many times how the academic and psychological communities have perpetuated violence against those they are tasked with supporting) She currently holds a Bachelor’s of Liberal Arts with a concentration in Systemic Trauma.


Jermaine Williams
Community Support Specialist

Jermaine Williams was director of Freedom Project East for 4 years, serving in Spokane County and the eastern part of the state. As an impacted person, his aim is to build bridges that will empower other impacted individuals to cross over into their humanity. This journey is one of healing. Jermaine believes when our thoughts, words, and deeds are in concert only then will our lives have harmony. Jermaine has been a peer mentor for two decades. Part of his healing journey has been owning the height of his virtues and the depth of his vices while developing the courage to truly represent himself good bad ugly indifferent. Jermaine’s versatility is unquestionable from Tchaikovsky and Wolfgang Mozart to DaBaby. You couldn’t tell by looking at him but Footloose (1984) and Hairspray (2007) are two of his all time favorite movies.


Anthony Childs
Community Support Specialist

I grew up in the inner city and was incarcerated for over 10 years, and I understand the struggle of inner-city life, and I understand the trauma of being incarcerated. I also understand the strength it takes to overcome. I’m a firm believer in “Once you get out of a ditch, it’s your duty to help others out of a ditch.” Alone, one can do a little; together we can do a lot.


Champion Gibson
Operations & Compliance

Champion is a dedicated and resilient individual who defied the odds to transform his life. Incarcerated at the tender age of 17, he emerged after 23 long years of incarceration, at the age of 40, ready to conquer new challenges with an unwavering determination. Throughout his time in confinement, Champion discovered a profound passion for learning and fitness, recognizing its immense power to positively impact him both mentally and physically. With an unyielding commitment to personal growth and development, he used every available resource to educate himself and become well-versed in various fitness disciplines and areas of knowledge. Champion's persistent efforts fostered a physical and mental transformation. Simultaneously, Champion developed an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and honed his skill set in research and analyzing information. Armed with a razor-sharp intellect, he eagerly explored diverse subjects, devouring information and seeking solutions to complex problems. This natural inclination towards research and analysis propelled Champion to become proficient in his field. Determined to overcome his past and establish a new professional identity, Champion embarked on a journey that led him to specialize in compliance and taxation. Within this challenging and intricate realm of the financial world, he continuously strives to be extremely proficient, understanding the critical importance of meticulous attention to detail and unwavering ethical standards. This is essential because, when striving to dismantle systems that have historically impacted our community it is important to know the intricacies of the systems in which you wish to dismantle. Champion's remarkable story and desire to add value to his community has instilled in him a profound sense of empathy and compassion for others facing similar circumstances. With his newfound freedom, Champion embarks upon a fresh chapter filled with endless possibilities. Unfazed by his tumultuous past, he leverages his expertise, passion, and dedication to collectively make a significant impact in the world and the community in which he comes from and loves so much.

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Clorissa Lewis-Newell
Reentry Director /

Critical Incident Responder

Clorissa possesses unparalleled expertise in recovery and reentry. She has learned through intimate experiences what works and what doesn’t when people are transitioning home, having navigated reentry systems herself multiple times. Since her last release in 2018, she’s supported hundreds of community members through the same processes, finding housing, employment, reconnecting with family, and finding community support. This support is grounded in knowing the breadth of impact when loved ones are incarcerated; firsthand, having herself experienced life-altering traumatic impact when her supports were taken away by the system when they she was young. Through this she knows the value of having these key resources. “Getting a job, so that you have the routine and structure, having stable housing, and a community there to hold you, you realize the importance of these supports pretty quickly - otherwise we go back to what we know.” Clorissa also supports community members impacted by gun violence through reduction and intervention strategies and is part of the Regional Peacekeeper Collective in King County (RPCKC). Through her work with RPCKC she was able to broaden her intervention and deescalation skills with the guidance of Dr. Aquil Basheer, she is a certified Credible Messenger, and has completed Alive & Free’s training for a prescription to end violence and change lives. In addition to all of this, Clorissa also supports people in recovery, because “that’s the way it works - for years, I battled with substance abuse issues and was successfully able to get and stay sober since 9/1/17.” Clorissa is a mom of six, and a champion softball catcher.

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