Sue Kastensen Honored as Champion of Change
Date: July 26, 2016 10:24AM
Sue Kastensen Honored as Champion of Change
On Wednesday, April 27, the White House recognized ten individuals from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for Expanding Fair Chance Opportunities.” These individuals were selected by the White House for their leadership and tireless work to remove barriers to a second chance for those with a criminal record. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.
One of the ten individuals honored for working to provide those with criminal records a second chance was Sue Kastensen, founder and executive director of Fair Shake, a web- and software-based reentry resource center.
At the ceremony, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch gave a moving talk about “a basic human need” we all share: “to be seen and recognized for being the person who we are.” The program also featured remarks by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and Labor Deputy Secretary Chris Lu. The event highlighted the growing list of public and private sector organizations that have stepped up to provide a second chance, including local governments that have passed “ban the box” ordinances and companies that have signed the White House Fair Chance Business Pledge.
The idea for Fair Shake took root in 1999, when an employee in Sue’s business asked if she would consider hiring a friend who would soon be released from prison. Sue interviewed and hired the individual, learned a great deal about crime, prison, reentry and recidivism, and started building on an idea. By 2005, Sue sold her business and in 2009 launched Fair Shake. Today, Fair Shake provides a number of free resources to currently and formerly incarcerated individuals including a free office in the Clouds for formerly incarcerated individuals which includes data storage, email and a personal web page. The Fair Shake software and limited internet access website is also available in state prisons in Idaho, Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington.
While Sue was in Washington DC, Representative Ron Kind met with her to congratulate her on the recognition and discuss the important work Fair Shake is doing back home in Wisconsin. “Congratulations to Fair Shake and Sue Kastensen for being named a Champion of Change for Expanding Fair Chance Opportunities. It is an enormous and well-deserved honor. I am impressed by the work Fair Shake is doing to help recently released and incarcerated individuals to prepare to reenter society and the job market. It is not an easy transition, and we must all work together to find ways to lower the recidivism rate and break the endless cycle of incarceration,” said Representative Kind.
Taking time to travel to Washington DC to receive the Champion of Change honor has not slowed the Fair Shake momentum.
In the last two months, Fair Shake has updated its software which includes study guides created by Terrell Hall to accompany the Fair Shake Reentry Packet and two other reentry study guides created within the incarcerated community. Fair Shake is looking forward to adding more! It has many new resources, voting information, correspondence course information, and a brand new page called “Documentos en Español” which it is being built as quickly as possible.
Fair Shake is moving forward, slowly but surely on two other big projects. Fair Shake hopes to create a full-time position focused exclusively on building its Resource Directory, and one day sending resources from its directory to those who ask for them. Since there is NO federal or state or ‘other’ funding for a
national reentry resource data base, building of the Resource Directory is dependent on funding being secured from private donations.
Fair Shake is also expanding and improving “best reentry practices” with the incarcerated community. Several types of groupings of individuals are taking shape – from Think Tanks, to Reentry Councils, to coaching groups, Round Tables, self-studiers and others. Fair Shake would like to provide a hub for sharing and exploring ideas for personal development and reentry considerations.
The other nine individuals recognized as White House Champions of Change for Expanding Fair Chance Opportunities are:
Galarneau serves as Executive Vice President at California Marketing Group (CMG), a business process outsourcing vendor headquartered in San Diego, California. Over the past 20 years, Galarneau has developed a company culture that focuses on the current qualities of candidates. Her re-entry advocacy has helped foster a diverse and successful workforce. Since 2006, CMG has trained and relied upon federal inmates in the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. work program to perform tele-servicing functions on behalf of its customers. This relationship has been so successful that the call center operation was expanded to a second correctional facility in Tallahassee, Florida. Both locations operate outbound call centers and, together, employ more than 300 federal inmates. To date, over 100 formerly-incarcerated individuals have been provided a direct opportunity with CMG, and more than a 1,000 opportunities have been provided through partnerships and business relationships developed by Galarneau.
Naidoo is a licensed clinical social worker serving as the executive director for the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative (TORI), a prisoner reentry program of the Potter’s House Church in Dallas, Texas led by Bishop T. D. Jakes. Through the vision of Bishop T. D. Jakes, and under Tina’s leadership, TORI has helped reduce the rate of recidivism by serving more than 10,000 returning citizens and their families, over the past 10 years, through a 12-month intensive case management program that offers formerly incarcerated individuals the opportunity for a second chance by providing solutions to the many barriers they face upon release. The TORI program has a recidivism rate of 11% through its holistic approach to core needs: Employment, Housing, Healthcare, Family Reunification, and Spiritual Guidance.
Nunn is Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and co-founder of All of Us or None, an organization that supports formerly incarcerated individuals. Since 2003, Nunn has been at the forefront of a movement where formerly incarcerated individuals speak in their own voices, transform their lives and communities, and fully participate in all aspects of society. All of Us or None originated and continues to expand the “Ban the Box” campaign – a nationwide effort to eliminate structural discrimination based on conviction history in employment, housing, education, social services and other areas. Nunn and his organization have been involved in efforts to “ban the box” on employment applications in local and state governments and in some of the largest corporations in the country. Formerly incarcerated himself, Dorsey holds numerous prestigious awards for over thirty-five years of work on prison reform and social justice.
Perez has served in the Miami-Dade Police Department since 1990 and was appointed to be the Director of the Miami-Dade Police Department by Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez in 2016. Throughout his extensive law-enforcement career, he has served as in Police Services, Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security, and Robbery and as Chief in the Police Services’ South Operations Division and Deputy Director. The Miami-Dade Police Department has prioritized training its workforce on Crisis Intervention, so that the mentally ill persons are treated rather than incarcerated. In addition, Director Perez participates in the Re-entry Council Committee of the Miami-Dade Criminal Justice Council ensuring comprehensive local re-entry programs. He has recently developed the Youth Outreach Unit which helps at-risk children at an early age in an effort to break the cycle of violence.
Gregory P. Razo
Razo is an Alaska Native and shareholder of Cook Inlet Region, Inc., an Alaska Native Corporation which supports his efforts to improve Alaska’s civil and criminal justice systems. He serves as Chairman of the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission charged with evaluating and making recommendations to improve criminal laws and practices – keeping in mind the goals of enhancing public safety, offender rehabilitation and victim restitution and reducing costs. Alaska is in the midst of omnibus criminal justice reform legislation that is based upon the Commission’s policy recommendations to the Alaska Legislature. Razo also serves as Vice Chair of the tribal non-profit Alaska Native Justice Center that addresses the unmet needs of Alaska Natives impacted by the increasing disproportionate rates of victimization, incarceration and other justice-related issues inherent in the Alaska civil and criminal justice system.
Carrie Ann Schubert
Schubert is the President of the Beaverton Bakery, which has been a community landmark since 1925 and in the Schubert family since 1965. The Beaverton Bakery started its Second Chance Program ten years ago but the business has been providing second chance opportunities since it was founded. The program was developed in partnership with Judge Thomas W. Kohl who presided over the Washington County Adult Drug Treatment Court. The program focuses on teaching bakery skills as part of an effort to help individuals transition back to the community after being released from prison. Since the program was founded, Beaverton Bakery has trained and hired over 200 formerly incarcerated individuals.
Robert Scott, PhD, is Executive Director of the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) at Cornell University. CPEP provides college-level liberal arts education to qualified incarcerated students in upstate New York prisons. CPEP is a response to the challenge of mass incarceration in the United States: too many people in prison with too few opportunities for education and rehabilitation. CPEP demonstrates the transformative power of higher education in prison. Former students of the program have gone on to serve as role models in the community, participating in civic life and finding gainful employment in spite of the myriad challenges that face formerly incarcerated individuals. Under Robert's tenure, the program has expanded to three prisons and is serving approximately 200 incarcerated individuals this year. Robert is also known for his leadership in increasing collaboration in the field, contributing to the formation of a New York statewide consortium, as well as a national consortium for higher education in prison.
So is a Re-Entry Program Manager at the Executive Clemency Initiative, part of Stanford Law School’s Justice Advocacy Project. Since becoming involved in 2012, So has provided support for both federal and state inmates returning home after long sentences, often meeting them at the prison gates. Having served in California’s prison system for 12 years, he has used his experience as an inmate to help released prisoners reintegrate into society. In 2015, So was featured in a New York Times Magazine article on reintegrating the formerly incarcerated. He also serves as an example for formerly incarcerated individuals by working full time as post production supervisor in the entertainment industry, proving that hard work and determination can overcome barriers.
Williams is an actress and the founder and Director of the Actors’ Gang Prison Project. The Prison Project conducts eight-week theatre workshops inside the California prison system and has developed programs at the California Institution for Men, California Institution for Women, California Rehabilitation Center, Lancaster State Prison, Ironwood State Prison, and New Folsom Prison. As one of the only remaining arts programs inside California’s correctional system, The Prison Project fosters tolerance and nonviolent expression while significantly reducing recidivism rates.