“We will never be satisfied because there is so much progress that we want to make on behalf of our fellows and people throughout the country who have been caught up in the criminal justice system.” — Peter Bakstansky, Board Chair
Peter Bakstansky became the Board Chair of College and Community Fellowship in 2005 upon retiring as Senior Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a member of the bank’s management committee after 30 years. During his time at the bank, he was in charge of the public information area and also was responsible for the Office of Regional and Community Affairs. He served as the Ombudsman of the bank and was the Senior Administrative Officer for the executive group.
As an Adjunct Lecturer at Marymount Manhattan College, Barbara Martinsons has been teaching in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility’s College Program for the last 12 years. She has also served as adjunct professor at Sing Sing Correctional Facility through Hudson Link’s program and has taught classes in sociology, philosophy, film, literature, history and cultural studies. While teaching, Ms. Martinsons witnessed the few resources available to women transitioning out of prison and became a mentor for Womencare, a program that addresses these challenges. She founded College and Community Fellowship (CCF) in 2000. Ms. Martinsons served as the Chair of the CCF Board for its first five years, established and facilitated the CCF Theater for Social Change and currently sits on the CCF Board of Directors.
Vivian Nixon has been on the CCF Board of Directors since 2003. A CCF Fellow once herself, Vivian is now the Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship (CCF), an organization committed to removing individual and structural barriers to higher education for women with criminal record histories and their families. She identifies her most valued and life-changing experience as the time she spent as a peer educator in the adult basic education program at Albion State Correctional Facility in New York. Rev. Nixon is ordained by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) and currently serves as an associate minister at Mt. Zion AMEC in New York City. She is currently a Columbia University Community Scholar and has received multiple honors and awards including the John Jay Medal for Justice, the Ascend Fellowship at the Aspen Institute, the Soros Justice Fellowship, the Petra Foundation Fellowship. Her leadership activities include co-founding the Education Inside Out Coalition (EIO), a collaborative effort to increase access to higher education for justice involved students and serving on the Advisory Board of JustLeadershipUSA. Rev. Nixon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York Empire College.
Irene Brance has always believed in the power of storytelling. As a teenager in Central Maine, she volunteered to teach theater and storytelling at an elementary school. Today, as Chief Development Officer for The HOPE Program, she shares clients’ powerful stories of transformation as they progress from poverty to employment to career advancement. Prior to her work at HOPE, Irene served as Senior Development Manager for Read Alliance. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Baruch College and a Bachelor’s Degree in French from Roanoke College. In addition to her service as a Board Member for College and Community Fellowship, Irene has volunteered with Progressive Education Institute, teaching evening classes to women detainees at Riker’s Island and as a volunteer workshop facilitator for the Center for Nonprofit Success. Irene recently completed a competitive leadership training through The Center for Leadership Innovation. In the summer, she can often be found cycling New York City’s bike paths or training for a half marathon.
Bridget Williams recently joined Food52 as COO, an ecommerce and content lifestyle company. Her career has spanned from the first digital department of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to New York Times Digital, to tech start ups, and Business Insider where she ran business development and international expansion. She lives in Brooklyn with her one son and stalks her other college son on various social networks. She is an avid cyclist, skier, cook, newshound, and social justice warrior.
Jan Risë Liss joined Project Pericles as its second Executive Director in 2005. At Project Pericles she has led the development of the Civic Engagement Course (CEC)™ Program, Debating for Democracy (D4D)™, the Periclean Faculty Leadership (PFL)™ Program, and the Creating Cohesive Paths to Civic Engagement project. She has senior leadership experience in management, planning, and financial development for a wide range of organizations, including The Aspen Institute, Consumers Reports, The New York Public Library, The Brookings Institution, American Express, and The Portland Art Association. The most recent White Paper, The Periclean Diamond: Linking College Classrooms, Campuses, Communities, and Colleagues via Social and Civic High Engagement Learning by Ben Berger and Jan R. Liss, is available on the Project Pericles website. Read more...
Glenn E. Martin is the Founder and Chief Risk Taker of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA). Glenn is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in New York State prisons. Prior to founding JLUSA, Glenn served for seven years as Vice President of Development and Public Affairs at The Fortune Society and six years as Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center. Read more...
Jackie Chu is a consultant specializing in data analysis and financial strategy in the education sector. She most recently was a project specialist with the NJ Department of Education, working on a project for the Commissioner to integrate and analyze all data collected by the state and selected districts, bringing together financial, staffing, student demographic, and achievement data in order to identify best practices for resource allocation that can enhance student performance. Prior to that she worked as Finance Director in the Newark Public Schools and Director of Administration and Finance at the I Have a Dream Foundation. Read more...
Jacki Kelly is a passionate educator and non-profit leader committed to closing the opportunity gap. She is the Executive Director of The Writing Revolution, a national non-profit organization which partners with schools to support the critical thinking, writing, reading, and confidence of students through an evidence-based, interdisciplinary, professional development model. Jacki has previously led development and communications efforts at Harlem Educational Activities Fund, Young Women’s Leadership Network, READ Alliance, Citizen Schools New Jersey, and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. Read more...
Yolanda Johnson Peterkin has been a CCF Board Member since 2014. Yolanda is a CCF alumnae who remains very active in its Theater for Social Chance (TSC) program. She is currently the Chief of Housing Community Activities for the Family Services Department at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). She formerly worked as the Director of Program Operations for Reentry Services at the Women’s Prison Association. In April 2011, she received the Distinguished Leadership award from the NAACP-NYCHA branch for her relentless hard work and passion for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. Mrs. Johnson-Peterkin received her MSW from Hunter College in 2004, and is an active alumna of CCF. She has performed with TSC at Rikers Island, Riverside Church, The New School, Columbia University, Lycoming College, and Talking Transition, among other venues.
Brenda Dann-Messier has been a CCF Board Member since 2015. Now retired, she has worked her entire career to expand education and workforce opportunities for low income youth and adults. Brenda Dann-Messier was nominated by President Obama as assistant secretary for vocational and adult education on July 14, 2009. Dann-Messier previously was the Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education (2009-2014) and also served as Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education (2013-2014) in the U.S. Department of Education. Previously, she served as the president of Dorcas Place Adult & Family Learning Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Dann-Messier earned her Bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education, plus a teaching certificate, at Rhode Island College, where she went on to complete her Master’s in instructional technology with another certificate in adult basic education. Dann-Messier received her Ed.D. in educational leadership, from Johnson and Wales University.
Dallas Pell has been on the CCF Board of Directors since 2009. While currently retired and residing in Rhode Island, Dallas is a champion of her father Senator Claiborne Pell’s vision of social justice through the Pell Grants.
Cheryl Wilkins has been a CCF Board Member since 2013. A CCF alumna herself, Cheryl Wilkins continues to support the program its Fellows. She is also Senior Program Manager at Columbia University’s Center for Justice where her work is consistent with overcoming the damage that mass incarceration has left on families and communities. At the School of Social Work she presents on topics such as reentry, and families and communities affected by mass incarceration. Read more...
Barat Dickman has been a CCF Board Member since 2014. He is Vice President and General Manager of WestCon. Barat is a results-driven senior executive with 20 years experience driving improved business performance through large scale transformation in the technology industry.
Michelle Paige Paterson has been a CCF Board Member since 2010. She is currently the Director of Integrative Wellness at Emblemhealth where she focuses on evidence based programs that promote healthy living with a concentration on obesity and street related ailments. She is also the former First Lady of New York state. Paige Paterson was the first African American First Lady in New York’s history.
Debbie Meyer is currently researching the links between dyslexia and the school to prison pipeline. She plans on starting an organization that will train teachers and educate full school staff and parents about dyslexia. Most recently, Debbie was Special Projects Consultant at the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) working on communications, advocacy with local elected officials and small events for businesses and organizations that have received loans or grants from UMEZ. She also served as Co-Interim Director of Development at the Harlem Educational Activities fund, working on institutional advancement, community relations and organizational development. She has been on CCF’s Board of Directors since 2006.
Marie Hoguet has been a CCF Board Member since 2014. She currently works as the Director of Organizational Capacity & Effectiveness, Division of Instructional & Information Technology. She engages and supports government and non-profit organizations in organization development, learning, and change efforts for improved organizational culture and impact. Her work includes process consultation, change management, and staff development.
Anthony Smith has been a CCF Board Member since 2009. Currently retired, Anthony comes to CCF after a full career including his service as the President and CEO of The Horticultural Society of New York. He has also worked for 5 New York City Mayors, and 2 New York State Governors.