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Community Conversations #3 Life Beyond Prison

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CSULB Studio Theatre

7th Street and East Campus Drive

Long Beach, CA 90840

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Representatives from the CSULB Rising Scholars Justice Lab and California Innocence Project are featured in this poignant conversation around the experiences of formerly incarcerated individuals. Isaac Bryan lends his expertise on mass incarceration and public policy in the keynote address. Bryan is the Director of Public Policy for Million Dollar Hoods, a community-driven research project that digitally maps incarceration in California, and a former Policy Associate for Mayor Garcetti's Office of Reentry. The event will also include appearances by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk and Arts in Corrections program, as well as performances by soprano Victoria Lawal, mezzo-soprano Lindsay Patterson, bass-baritone Derrell Acon, and pianist Neda St. Clair.

Featured Speaker: Isaac Bryan (Public Policy Advisor, UCLA Bunche Center for African American Studies)
Performers:
Derrell Acon (bass-baritone), Victoria Lawal (soprano), Lindsay Patterson (mezzo-soprano), and Neda St. Clair (pianist)
Moderator: Charity Chandler-Cole
Panelists:
Adrian Vasquez, Cynthia Blake, Jasmin Harris, Luis Vargas, and Jose Osuna

Partners:

Mariana Moscoso, M.A.
Interim Arts in Corrections Program Manager
Marvin K. DeRamus
Housing Specialist
Transformational Living Homes
Anabel Ortega
Phillip Verbera
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk

Reception to follow.

Biographies:

Isaac Bryan is Public Policy Advisor at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. His interests center around mass incarceration, police protocol conceptualization, juvenile justice, and economic equity. Bryan serves as the Political Science Coordinator for the Center for Community Learning, teaching undergraduate courses in civic engagement and professional development. Prior to UCLA, Bryan worked as a research fellow for the Rombach Institute on Crime, Delinquency and Corrections. As a Rombach Fellow, he worked with a team of federal monitors to enforce a US Department of Justice Consent Decree with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Bryan has also worked as an analyst for BOTEC Analysis, a criminal justice and drug policy research firm, on projects involving probation reform and juvenile justice. As a 2017-18 Bohnett Fellow, he worked in the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Reentry.

Charity Chandler-Cole is a mother, wife, motivational speaker, and social justice advocate for issues ranging from juvenile justice and foster care to child sex trafficking. As an advocate, Chandler-Cole serves on several boards and committees, such as the Black Los Angeles Young Democrats as President, the Board of Directors for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) as Chairwoman, the Juvenile Justice Standing Committee, a sub-committee of the Board of the State and Community Corrections, and was part of the Prop 47 Executive Steering Committee that guided the process for awarding the majority of the state’s Proposition 47 savings to help rehabilitate and provide resources for those coming out of prison.

Adrian Vasquez is a 2018 JustLeadershipUSA Fellow. He works as Job Developer for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). There, he helps provide meaningful employment, mentoring, and counseling to men and women once affected by the criminal justice system. Through his work and studies, he advocates for fair and just policies in the criminal justice system.

Cynthia Blake attends CSU Dominguez Hills as a member of the Rising Scholars Justice Lab. Her primary focus is on the effect of higher education on the recidivism of formerly incarcerated students. Upon graduation, she plans to continue her work within a PhD program.

Luis Vargas served 16 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. In 2011, Vargas wrote a letter to the California Innocence Project proclaiming his innocence and included an LA Times article chronicling the crimes of the man he believed to be the actual offender. Vargas is the California Innocence Project’s 3rd DNA exoneration and 20th freed client overall.

Jasmin Harris is the External Relations Administrator for the California Innocence Project, where she oversees all development and policy work. She is responsible for shepherding proposed bills and policy measures through the legislature, vetting proposed language, meeting with legislators and staffers, and testifying on behalf of the Project.

Jose Osuna is the Chief Workforce Development & Mission Officer for The Meaning Foundation and Principal Consultant for Osuna Consulting. Prior to founding Osuna Consulting, he was the Director of External Affairs at Homeboy Industries. Osuna works in partnership with many community organizations and is a current member of L.A. County’s Probation Reform and Implementation Team, to which he was appointed by LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Mariana Moscoso is the Interim Program Manager for Arts in Corrections activities and contracts She liaises inter-agency partnerships and coordinates contracts/procurement and program development. Arts in Corrections is a partnership between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the California Arts Council designed to have a positive impact on persons in incarceration, promoting interpersonal and social transformation both inside and outside of the boundaries of their institutions.

Phillip Verbera joined the Administration Bureau of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk in 2005. He is a proud leader on LA County’s Voting While Incarcerated and LA County’s high school engagement programs, which are being used as models for engagement throughout California.

Shalei Heflin is Miss Sierra Nevada 2019. She works with organizations such as Friends Outside: Los Angeles, One Family San Francisco, Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership, Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law, and Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Conejo Valley, to speak on the importance of full-contact visitation and normalization of the prison/jail setting for children. She looks to build a larger outreach for advocacy and speak up for the rights of the incarcerated population and their children.

Marvin K. DeRamus is a Housing Specialist for Transformational Living Homes (TLH). Mr. DeRamus facilitates comfortable, quality living in surroundings conducive to abstinence, recovery, and personal growth. TLH operates as a family with shared house responsibilities that contribute to productivity, self-esteem, and clean, safe and healthy environments for recovery.

Soprano Victoria Lawal is a first year graduate student at the USC Thornton School of Music, where she has enjoyed performances as the Shepherdess and Owl in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and as Contessa d’Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Ms. Lawal looks forward to joining the Aspen Music Festival this summer as a Young Artist.

Mezzo-soprano Lindsay Patterson has been part of Long Beach Opera’s education outreach since 2017. This year, Ms. Patterson will perform in the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ The Central Park Five and will make her Metropolitan Opera debut in the chorus of the upcoming production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

Bass-baritone Derrell Acon is a uniquely accomplished performer and 2013-2014 Fulbright Scholar. Dr. Acon has performed internationally in houses such as Semperoper Dresden, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Deutsches Theater München, Kölner Philharmonie, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Tel-Aviv Charles Bronfman Hall, and Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari. Recent roles include Leporello in Don Giovanni, Escamillo and Zuniga in Carmen, and Rocco in Fidelio. He debuts with LBO as Antron McCray in the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ The Central Park Five.

Bulgarian pianist Neda St. Clair works actively as a performer and educator in her home country and in the US. In 2009, she relocated permanently to the US to pursue doctoral studies in musicology at the University of Southern California. This is her eighth season as a rehearsal and orchestra pianist for Long Beach Opera.

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CSULB Studio Theatre

7th Street and East Campus Drive

Long Beach, CA 90840

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