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Reentry Guide Initiative Director
Reentry Guide Initiative (RGI) Director Lee Ragsdale began her work with EJP in 2010 as an instructor in the Language Partners Program. In 2017 she introduced RGI’s second guide for people facing deportation and in 2020 co-coordinated a reentry guide for those being released during the pandemic. Lee has a BA in English from the University of California, Berkely, and MAs in Spanish and English Linguistics from the University of Illinois.
Writing & Research Coordinator
Linda supervises the writing and research efforts of EJP’s Reentry Guide Initiative. Linda is a professional writer, editor, and program manager. In addition to her work at EJP, she is the Communications and Education Program Director at the University of Illinois Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC). She manages SEDAC’s workforce and education programs, including efforts to grow the clean energy workforce among people leaving Illinois prisons. She also collaborates with professionals in environmental design fields to study the human health impact of landscapes and buildings.
Outreach and Distribution Coordinator
Natalia Fic is the Distribution & Outreach Coordinator for the Reentry Guide initiative. She helps send out guides and resources to those incarcerated in the U.S., as well as to reentry and immigrant organizations and political leaders. Her other roles includes outreach and research efforts for the development of the guides.
Natalia is starting her Master’s of Urban Planning at UIUC in the fall, and is interested in the role mass incarceration plays in our country’s social and economic systems.
EJP’s current director is Rebecca Ginsburg, a University of Illinois faculty member. As a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley she taught in the college program at San Quentin State Prison and became convinced of the necessity of providing quality education programs to incarcerated individuals. After arriving at Illinois as an assistant professor in 2006, she began working with a group of fellow Illinois faculty, graduate students, and community members to found EJP. She has a Ph.D. in architectural history from Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Though not employed by EJP, she works full-time on its behalf.
RGI Advisory Council
Michael Cannon is a native Chicagoan and community activist engaged in a wide range of humanitarian efforts that uplift fallen humanity by addressing the problems and needs of men, women, and children in disenfranchised communities, thereby improving their quality of life.
Michael is currently 1 of 2 Reentry Navigators for the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership is the public workforce system in Chicago and suburban Cook County, the largest public workforce network in the nation. The Partnership has a network of 91 delegate agencies, American Job Centers, satellite sites, and sector-driven centers. The Partnership has over 100 locations providing services to more than 140,000 people. As Reentry Navigator, Michael is instrumental in redesigning the Reentry system for Cook County and Suburban Cook County and implementation of the Reentry program for Cook County, “The Reentry Navigation Initiative: The Road Home Program”. In addition to being instrumental from the inception with helping to develop the project design, selecting the program participants from the IDOC and Cook County Department of Corrections, to procuring the agencies that provide the direct services, and then overseeing those agencies, Michael as Reentry Navigator will function as the connective tissue between returning residents and the assistance needed to survive in today’s world. The Navigator model is designed to guide returning residents through a seamless reentry system from prerelease services all the way through to unsubsidized employment, post-secondary education, or a recognized apprenticeship, to a successful reentry and future life filled with infinite possibilities.
Michael is a member of the Cook County Re-entry Coordinated Council, a broad diverse group of local decision-makers and criminal justice stakeholders whose goal is to restructure Cook County’s fragmented re-entry service system. Michael’s first-hand experience in correctional settings, as well as his extensive employment and volunteer experience in the field of reentry services, has allowed him to serve as an advisor and content expert in shaping recommendations for Cook County with regard to reentry services. This led to Michael’s current employment as one of two Reentry Navigators for the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, the largest public workforce development network in the Nation. His unique perspective and first-hand experience, along with his commitment to addressing the importance of improving reentry services for all returning residents, makes him an effective social agent for change in the interconnected realm of reentry, violence prevention, workforce development, recidivism reduction, systemic policy changes, and more.
Michael is also a current member of the Illinois Reentry Council of the Illinois Justice Project. The IRC brings together those who intend to create an equitable and effective process for people leaving prisons and jails to support them in their return to the community. Members are determining a long-term strategy to design an improved system and support its implementation. The Council provides a platform where members can meet, exchange information, determine a long-term strategy to design an improved system and support its implementation, and evaluate and improve their work to create model processes and comprehensive holistic reentry services and supports. The Council has six workgroups that are critical to advancing the design and implementation of a strong reentry system that focus on various elements of successful reentry and a supportive reentry system. Given Michael’s leadership in employment and unique perspective from his own experience with reentry, he was selected to co-chair the Employers/Upward Mobility Workgroup.
Michael is also currently an Advisory Committee Member for the Illinois Education Justice Project’s Reentry Guide Initiative at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he has made many valuable contributions to the publication and distribution of its reentry guide, Mapping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry, which is used by thousands of people who are released from Illinois correctional facilities and distributed by many IDOC counselors and social workers.
Michael is a current member on the Governing Board for the “Campaign to End Permanent Punishments” (Fully Free Campaign) at Heartland Alliance. There are over 48,000 collateral consequences across the United States that act as barriers for people who have a criminal record. Through legislative systemic policy change to repeal or amend the laws, the Fully Free Campaign seeks to dismantle the 1,189 Illinois laws that deny or restrict access to employment, education, and housing that are barriers for life for returning residents who have paid their debt to society.
Michael is also involved in numerous other social causes as a member of the Far South Chicago Coalition (FSCC) and a member of the Far South Community Action Council (FSCAC) Chicago Public Schools, where he received the 7th annual Black History Month 2021 recognition as Community Leader for his generosity and countless hours of devoted service to the community.
In addition to being a social entrepreneur and Certified Paralegal, Michael is also co-founder and co-CEO of C.A.N.D.O.R. Enterprises NFP (Creating A New Destiny [through] Opportunities [and] Restoration) that operates out of several facilities in the metropolitan Chicagoland area and suburban Cook County utilizing Restorative Justice practices to deliver a plethora of comprehensive holistic services designed to make individuals, families, and communities whole.
Michael’s passion for the holistic uplifting of fallen humanity is reflected in his words, actions, and deeds as he strives to make the world a better place.
Pablo Mendoza is a proud father, community organizer and aspiring researcher. He has served 22 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections where he managed to educate himself despite the endless challenges to access to higher education in prison programming. The pinnacle of his academic career was with the University of Illinois Education Justice Project (EJP) where he was introduced to the concept of critical pedagogy and provided a platform with which to exercise his agency and advocate for change. His first line of employment upon his release was with Parole Illinois as a Lead Organizer where he oversaw the organizing efforts of five fellow organizers and assisted with Legislative strategy. He is currently working as a Project Manager and Research Fellow for the Prison + Neighborhood Art/Education Project where he looks to establish a community center for families of the incarcerated. He will soon be transitioning to the role of Director. Pablo continues his connection to the University of Illinois by working as an advisor on the Reentry Guide Initiative. He also volunteers as a steering committee member for the Freedom to Learn Campaign where he looks to assure higher educational programming is accessible and the Illinois Reentry Alliance for Justice where he assists in the evaluation of the alliance and works to facilitate connections between the reentry community and reentry service providers with an eye towards making reentry a success. When free time avails itself he enjoys exercising, art, music, long runs, and peace only nature can bring.
Lili Burciaga is a member of EJP’s Reentry Guide Initiative, assistant professor at Lewis University in the psychology department, licensed clinical professional counselor, and certified clinical trauma professional. She has a doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Her clinical work has been largely focused on serving minoritized communities and intersected with social justice advocacy and action. She is actively involved with Counselors for Social Justice and the International Association of Resilience and Trauma of the American Counseling Association and sits on the editorial board of the Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology. She authored Trauma-Engaged and Culturally Responsive Schools: Changing the School-to-Prison Pipeline (2022) in the textbook Counseling Strategies for Children and Families Impacted by Incarceration.
Kendra Mills is an RGI member with EJP and a Program Officer at the Center for Critical Democracy Studies. She holds an MSc. in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and a B.A. in History and Law from the American University of Paris. She has previously worked with the Global Justice Center and the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.
B. Andi Lee
B. Andi Lee is an RGI Member with EJP, GEO and Defund UIPD member, and doctoral candidate in Clinical-Community Psychology at UIUC. Her master’s thesis examined how anti-Blackness contributes to greater denial of institutional racism and lower empathy for People of Color (i.e., the Global Majority) in White police recruits, and her dissertation is generating a theory and measure of sense of belonging for the Global Majority in relation to our racial/ethnic identities. Her other work includes healing research methods for Global Majority members, a training model that centers generates a public psychology for liberation, and practical reflections and recommendations on liberation psychology praxis in a local youth festival collaboration with community partners. Andi believes that fostering critical consciousness, reflection, and action are essential towards supporting the abolition of the prison industrial complex and the police.
MoDena Stinnette is an RGI Member with EJP, Social Worker with UIC, and works with two Reentry organizations in her community. She recently received her Doctorate at National Louis University-Chicago and is the author of Inside Out- “a novel about individuals experiencing reentry and the positive impact they can bring to society if given a fair chance”. MoDena has a wealth of lived experiences and is an advocate for underrepresented populations working to help the voiceless create spaces to use their voice.