Vivian Nixon is the Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship. As a formerly incarcerated woman and prior CCF program participant, Rev. Nixon is uniquely positioned to lead the charge to help justice-involved women and their families have a better future. While incarcerated, Rev. Nixon spent time as a peer educator for the adult basic education program at Albion State Correctional Facility in New York. Following her release, she was 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 a Columbia University Community Scholar and a recipient of the John Jay Medal for Justice, the Ascend Fellowship at the Aspen Institute, the Soros Justice Fellowship, and the Petra Foundation Fellowship. She is a co-founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition(EIO), a collaborative effort to increase access to higher education for justice-involved students and serves on the advisory board of JustLeadershipUSA. Rev. Nixon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York Empire College.
Selina Fulford returned to society in 2000 and began working at a men’s shelter while pursuing higher education. Since then, Selina has completed three academic degrees while continuing to be employed full-time at the shelter. She received a BA from the College of New Rochelle in 2007, and an MS in 2009. Selina taught Career Interest as an adjunct professor at the College of New Rochelle for three years. She recently completed her second Master’s degree in Sociology at the New School for Social Research, and she aspires to earn her PhD. Selina is currently pursuing an MSW at Hunter College. She has performed with TSC at Rikers Island; the Adult and Juvenile Female Offenders Conference in Portland, Maine; the Harlem State Office Building; Talking Transition; Baruch College; The New School University; Columbia University; and Riverside Church, among other venues.
Leslie Campbell found hope for her future as a CCF Fellow after leaving prison. She is the coordinator of the Going Places Network at Dress for Success and the Senior Case Manager at FACES NY, Inc’s Access to Care Project Women’s Support Center, a trauma informed home medical model. She formerly served as the Recruitment Intake Support Specialist at CCF. She also has her own jewelry business, and is a proud mother of two. Leslie holds a Master’s degree in Forensic Mental Health Counseling from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her honors include the Calvin Miles Award for Student Leadership in Adult Education from the NYC Mayor’s Office, WORTH’s Susan Hallett Reentry Award, induction into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, and the Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society. She joined TSC in 2007 and has performed at Rikers Island; the Adult and Juvenile Female Offenders Conference in Portland, Maine; the Harlem State Office Building; Talking Transition; Baruch College; The New School University; Columbia University; and Riverside Church, among other venues.
Alesa Simmons was born and raised in Milledgeville, Georgia where the general population is approximately 19,000. She came to New York City to pursue a career in singing which led her “downhill” due to substance use and several convictions. In 2008, a fellow college student presented her with information about a program that assisted women who possessed a criminal record. She was informed that CCF helped with resources to engage back into the workforce, educational advances, and promoted wellness. She contacted CCF and says she was helped tremendously through the program. She graduated from the College of New Rochelle with a GPA of 3.9 in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts and currently is seeking her MS in Mental Health Counseling. She holds a CASAC and has been in the field of Substance Abuse for 18 years. She is currently employed with Mt. Sinai/ Beth Israel and says her 18 years of experience has helped her grow emotionally, handle responsibilities, work independently, be sensitive to people’s needs, and maintain good working relationships with her clients, classmates, and staff. She also has a “miracle child” by the name of Madiyson Aleese Simmons and she is ten years old.
Katherine Jennings is a 2009 graduate of the College of New Rochelle with BA in Sociology. In 2011 she graduated from the New York Theological Seminary with a Master’s degree in Professional Studies. Katherine is also a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC). She has worked as a substance abuse counselor for 13 years with programs such as Phoenix House, Daytop Outpatient Program, J-Cap, Addicts Rehabilitation Center (ARC), Palladia, and Comunilife, Inc. Katherine currently works with the Riverside Church Coming Home Program as a mentor to returning citizens. She finds solace in writing, and began sharing her writing with others through the art of acting with CCF. While an active member of CCF, she joined the Writers’ Group and TSC. She is currently writing her memoir as well as poems and prose for publication. Katherine is also a passionate mother and purpose-driven wife. She has performed with TSC in such venues as the Interchurch Center, the CUNY Grad Center, Columbia University, and the AFJO Conference in Portland, Maine.
Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin 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.
Denise McFarlan returned to school after 33 years at the age of 49 to obtain a joint GED and Associate’s degree. She earned her BS in Human Services with a focus on Addiction Counseling from Touro College in June 2010, and she recently obtained her CASAC-T certification. Denise currently works as a Housing Counselor at the Osborne Association in New York City. She has been part of CCF’s Theater for Social Change ensemble since 2006, and has performed with TSC at Rikers Island; the Adult and Juvenile Female Offenders Conference in Portland, Maine; the Harlem State Office Building; Talking Transition; Baruch College; The New School University; Columbia University; and Riverside Church, among other venues.
Edna Joyce Sams is the Regional Director for Residential Services at the Post Graduate Center for Mental Health in New York City. She graduated from the Hunter College School of Social Work with an MSW in January, 2009 and received her LMSW in 2014. Edna aspires to open a program addressing the myriad issues that arise for currently incarcerated women and their children. A member of TSC and the Writers’ Group at CCF for over seven years, Edna has always desired to act on a stage in front of people to bring joy. However, she didn’t become serious about her writing/acting until life-changing events essentially forced a rebirth of her desire to create artistically. Edna has performed with TSC at Rikers Island; the Adult and Juvenile Female Offenders Conference in Portland, Maine; the Harlem State Office Building; Talking Transition; Baruch College; The New School University; Columbia University; and Riverside Church, among other venues.