Foundation for Prison Scholarships Announces New Board Members

TTEFWe are moving into the final stages of our inaugural scholarship cycle and excited that all of our work is going to pay off for years to come.  Anyone who has worked with a population of imprisoned people will know how challenging it can be to create solid and trustworthy lines of communication, and TTEF is doing this in multiple juvenile, women’s, and men’s facilities.  Ultimately we have forged a strong relationship with the DOC administration, and we are excited to continue this trajectory into a force for education and reentry.

TTEF is also excited to introduce the other members of our team.  Joining Andres Idarraga, Noah Kilroy, and Bruce Reilly on our Board of Directors are Tina Reynolds and Mimi Budnick.  Our Advisory Board includes Andrew Horwitz, Cherie Cruz, and Cris Potter.

This amazing array of talent and diversity can only briefly be touched on below:

Tina Reynolds is a national figure regarding women’s prison issues.  Formerly incarcerated herself, Professor Reynolds gave birth to one of her two sons behind bars.  Years later, she became the mother of a movement to end the shackling of pregnant women in custody.  She also earned her Masters in Social Work, co-founded Women On The Rise Telling Her Story (WORTH) in Harlem, and is a professor at York College.  Professor Reynolds is widely recognized for her advocacy work, including national drug policy and Rhode Island’s own successful elimination of pregnancy shackling.  She is also a founding member of the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People’s Movement.

Mimi Budnick is no stranger to people at the Adult Correctional Institutions and issues around reentry.  Ms. Budnick served for a decade as an organizer for the Behind the Walls committee at Direct Action for Rights & Equality (DARE).  She was a key figure in various community-wide efforts, including the restoration of voting rights, improving prison conditions, and reforming sentencing practices.  The Behind the Walls Committee served as the foundation for reentry among civic-minded people.  Ms. Budnick is now honing in on her Masters in Education at the University of Rhode Island, with a focus on advanced adult education.

Andrew Horwitz is a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island.  Professor Horwitz serves as Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic, in which law students represent indigent criminal defendants in pending misdemeanor cases, and also teaches criminal law and criminal procedure.  He serves on several other Boards of Directors, including Open Doors Rhode Island, City Year Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and he remains active in many other organizations, including Operation Stand Down and the NAACP.  Prior to joining the RWU faculty, Professor Horwitz was a public defender in Brooklyn, NY.

Cherie Cruz is a mother, sibling, and daughter of incarcerated parents.  Ms. Cruz has transcended her own personal and family history of incarceration and conviction to ultimately earn a Master’s in Urban Education Policy from Brown University.  Her main interests and research revolve around the school-to-prison pipeline and police in schools. She currently is the RI System of Care Family/Youth Leadership Coordinator for the Dept. of Children Youth & Families through Parent Support Network.  Ms. Cruz also sits on other various boards: RI ACLU, RI Welcome Back Center, and the RI Executive Committee on Trauma Informed Care. She previously worked as a reentry case manager with Open Doors, which focused on mentorship and education.  Ms. Cruz has provided valuable support for numerous organizations throughout the state.

Cris Potter was born and raised in Providence, RI.  He graduated from Classical High School in 1996, CCRI in 2007, and from East Carolina University in 2012.  Mr. Potter is currently employed asa  data scientist at an internet company in Massachusetts.

These five people have come together to help make higher education a priority within the realm of incarceration and reentry.  Together, and with the help of our future scholars, we will raise the profile of this pathway while reducing the barriers to success.  As we move forward, volunteer opportunities will arise.  We encourage everyone to subscribe to our blog as a way of staying informed, and also to join us on Facebook as a way to share our progress while inspiring others.

We also encourage you to contribute to the foundation.  This work requires a broad base of support not only for our scholarships, but also to spread the message of successful reintegration leads to strong communities.