By MoDena Stinnette

At the heart of the Education Justice Project’s Reentry Guide Initiative is the Advisory Council. Below we share some wisdom from Advisory Council member Michael Cannon.

Michael served 29 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after being sentenced to 60 years in prison. He stated that he found purpose while in prison. Those 29 years gave him a means to look inward:

“I am a man of faith. My purpose is serving the creator by serving humanity.”

Michael shared how his family motivated him through the losses during his incarceration. He stated, “I recognize that my family had a price to pay too during my incarceration. I knew going into the 60 year sentence some of my greatest fears would come to pass.” Now he wants to give back to the family that supported him through the most devastating time of his life.

Michael’s passion and purpose drive his work as a Reentry Navigator for the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and co-founder of CANDOR Enterprises (Creating a New Destiny through Opportunities and Restoration). Michael and co-founder Ricky Hamilton (also an EJP Reentry Guide Initiative Advisory Council member) are reaching back to their communities by creating programs and awareness campaigns that then create opportunities for others. His ability to give back comes from a place of understanding because he once sat in the same seats as his potential clients. “Those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.”

Michael and Ricky are ambitious about transforming reentry in Illinois. “I look forward to creating the number one reentry system in America,” he says. He realizes that he is in a unique position to live his purpose and have access to the resources that otherwise may not have been afforded to him. Michael is committed to fine-tuning his business skills to better serve his community. As Michael says, “I can do everything better.”

Michael talked about the challenge of finding a balance between his professional and social life. The work that he does in the community is his life, and sometimes finding that balance can be tough.

Michael also reflected on his engagement with the Education Justice Project and how the space is filled with so many people with good hearts and good intentions: “EJP has reaffirmed how good people can be.”

Michael Cannon is an inspirational visionary who is guided by the servant leadership model. He’s a continuous student and teacher and all-around role model that anyone would be proud to follow.