Anastasia Pelias was born in New Orleans, LA to a Greek immigrant mother and a first generation Greek-American father. She received her BFA from the Newcomb College of Tulane University in 1981, and her MFA from the University of New Orleans in 1996. Pelias has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions at galleries and museums nationwide, and has been featured in publications including Hyperallergic, New American Paintings, Artnet news, ArtDaily, Forbes, Pelican Bomb and New Orleans Art Review. Her work appears in the permanent collections at the New Orleans Museum of Art; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; the Mobile Museum of Art, Alabama; Newcomb Art Museum, New Orleans; the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, and in private and public collections worldwide.
Pelias’ work has been featured in notable exhibitions including The Whole Drum Will Sound: Women in Southern Abstraction at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in 2018, and Per(Sister): Incarcerated Women in Louisiana at Newcomb Art Museum in 2019 and at the Ford Foundation Gallery in 2020. In 2018, Pelias was commissioned by the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, TX to to make a site-specific sculpture and painting installation. In 2020, Pelias was commissioned by the Domain Companies to create a 54 foot mural at the Odeon Building in New Orleans. In 2020 she was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist Residency. Pelias was a selected artist in the Prospect.5 Triennial, 2021-22, where she exhibited a site-specific multi sensory installation involving sculpture, a painted landscape, sound and scent.
Law Visiting Committee Distinguished Professor of Law
Professor Armstrong joined the Loyola University New Orleans, College of Law faculty in 2010. She is a leading national expert on prison and jail conditions and is certified by the U.S. Department of Justice as a Prison Rape Elimination Act auditor. Prof. Armstrong founded IncarcerationTransparency.org, a database/website designed by Prof. Judson Mitchell, that provides facility-level deaths behind bars data and analysis for Louisiana and memorializes lives lost behind bars. Her research has been profiled by New Yorker Magazine and quoted in the New York Times, the Atlantic, National Public Radio, and the Times-Picayune among others. Her scholarship focuses on the constitutional dimensions of prisons and jails, specifically prison labor practices, the intersection of race and conditions of incarceration, and public oversight of detention facilities. She teaches in the related fields of incarceration law and policy, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, law and poverty, and race and the law.
Assistant Professor of Art and Archaeology and African American Studies
Visiting Fellow, Center for The Study of Social Difference, Columbia University
Professor Arabindan-Kesson is an assistant professor of African American and Black Diasporic art with a joint appointment in the Department of Art and Archaeology. Born in Sri Lanka, she completed undergraduate degrees in New Zealand and Australia, and worked as a Registered Nurse in the UK before completing her PhD in African American Studies and Art History at Yale University.
Professor Arabindan-Kesson's research and teaching focus on Black Diaspora Art, with an emphasis on histories of race, empire, and medicine in the long 19th century. She also has interests in British, South Asian and Australian art. Her first book Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton, and Commerce in the Atlantic World, is available from Duke University Press. She is also writing a book, supported by an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship, with Professor Mia Bagneris (Tulane University) called Beyond Recovery: Reframing the Dialogues of Nineteenth-Century Black Diaspora Art. Her second monograph is called An Empire State of Mind: Plantation Imaginaries and British Colonialism. In 2020 she began directing Art Hx, a new digital project and object database that addresses the intersections of art, race and medicine in the British empire. She is currently a Visiting Fellow, Center for The Study of Social Difference, Columbia University and a 2021 Center for Digital Humanities Data Fellow at Princeton University.
Annie Kountz, AIA, MASS Design Group
Annie is a Senior Associate who joined MASS in 2021. Prior to MASS, Annie designed and managed architectural projects focused on social and racial justice. This ranged from supportive housing, schools, early education centers, community centers and restorative justice centers for non-profits and public agencies in New York City. Her projects received multiple AIA and SARA awards in New York state and nationally.
At MASS, she is currently working on the design of an affordable housing and health care project. She works with the Restorative Justice Design Lab, which leverages architecture to imagines alternatives, highlight spatial injustices, and advocate for decarceration and prison abolition.
She received her Masters in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design where she was a 4 year Dean’s merit scholar. Annie was awarded President Obama’s National Public Service Award for leadership and public service. As well as the GSD’s Unsung Hero Award, and two Public Service Fellowships for her work in Nairobi, Kenya, and teaching and mentoring youth in Boston. Once upon a time she was a Structural Engineer with full scholarship at the University of Washington and the SOM Traveling Fellow for Art, Architecture and Engineering.
Her work has been published in the UN’s Design for the other 90%, Harvard Prison Studies Project, Baltimore Open City Exhibit, The A4 Exhibit in Tokyo, Japan, and multiple Harvard GSD publications. She has taught at Harvard University GSD’s Career Discovery, Project Link, and Design Initiative for Youth. She has lectured at the Boston Public Library, Community NOW, and the Octavia Project.
She is a licensed architect in New York State and a member of AIA NY’s Architecture for Justice committee.
Housing Director, Operation Restoration
Dolfinette is a strong community leader. She serves on the Formerly Incarcerated Transitional Clinic Advisory Board, a clinic created for formerly incarcerated people, and she is a panelist on the Criminal Background Check Review Panel for the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO). Dolfinette was appointed to New Orleans’ first female mayor Latoya Cantrell’s transition team and in 2019 was appointed to the Audubon Zoo Advisory Board. In 2018 she was appointed to Essence Festival’s first ever all-female criminal justice reform panel. She was a founding member and former president of the New Orleans chapter of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. Dolfinette earned a college degree in 2015 after her release from prison in 2012. She sets a powerful example for her children, grandchildren and her community. She is frequently asked to contribute her knowledge, expertise, and wisdom on panels and media. She is a recipient of the John Thompson Leadership for Change Award and The Graduates’ Freedom Fighter Award. Dolfinette is an equal partner in Tulane University’s (Per)Sister exhibition, an exhibition that highlights the stories of 30 formerly and currently incarcerated women and girls. Dolfinette helped create the first Women’s Gathering Fellowship for women of color with the Center for Community Change and was one of the first ten cohorts. She also contributed her expertise to help create The Power Coalitions SheLeads Fellowship which also focuses on women of color doing on-the-ground organizing. Based on her legislative advocacy Governor John Bel Edwards appointed her to sit on the Louisiana Women’s Incarceration Task Force in 2018.
Een Jabriel, Rutgers University / The Petey Greene Program
Een is the acting Regional Manager for The Petey Greene Program in New Jersey. He is currently responsible for recruiting and training potential volunteers in order to prepare them to go inside of several facilities of The New Jersey Department of Corrections as tutors. Being directly impacted by the Criminal Justice system Een has direct experience with both Prison Education and reentry education. After Een's return to society he studied Criminology at Rutgers University and was able to obtain his Bachelors degree in 2016. Een is now using both his lived and academic experience with the Criminal Justice system to foster conversations and develop leadership amongst those who are directly impacted and/or those who find themselves to be allies of those directly impacted
Professor of History and African American Studies
Heather Ann Thompson is a Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize-winning author and Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Thompson has written extensively on the history of policing, mass incarceration and the current criminal justice system for publications such as The New York Times, Newsweek, TIME, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Salon, and Dissent, as well as for the top publications in her field. Her most recent book, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy, received 7 major book prizes, and was also a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Book Prize, as well as the Cundill Prize in History, and was also named on 14 Best Books lists. Thompson sits on myriad national criminal justice policy and advisory boards, including Art for Justice, being appointed to the historic blue-ribbon panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences to study the causes of mass incarceration, and being named to its standing Committee on Law and Justice. In 2018 she co-founded the Carceral State Project at UM, and its Documenting Criminalization and Confinement Research Initiative, and is currently on leave writing her next book on the Philadelphia police bombing of MOVE as a recipient of the 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship.
Ibrahim Greenidge, NOMA, NCARB, AIA. BOLT Architecture
Ibrahim Greenidge, RA, NOMA, AIA, NCARB, co-founded BOLT Architecture in 2012 and serves as the Managing Partner. In his decade of experience, Ibrahim has designed more than $150 million of building construction. In 2017, he was appointed to serve as President of the New York Coalition of Black Architects. A winner of the 2015 Jumaane Stewart Recognition Award, his designs have been featured in the UN’s Remembering Slavery Exhibit and the Center for Architectures “Say It Loud: Distinguished Black Designers of NYCOBA|NOMA. '' In 2017, Ibrahim was acknowledged as a Top 20 Distinguished Minority Architects and Designers by Architizer. He received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the New York Institute of Technology. As of 2022, Ibrahim currently sits on the Black Gotham Advisory Board and ONEnyc Advisory Board. Ibrahim is a 21st-century philanthropist. He contributes countless hours as a mentor, volunteer, attends career fairs, delivers guest talks and lectures, and serves as an assistant coach for a local NYC championship high school boys lacrosse team. He is also a global citizen, having traveled to four continents and over 20 countries. This father of two is working on a book entitled “It’s Going to Be Brick: being black in architecture” to be published in 2022.
Ph.D. Candidate, Art and Archaeology
Jessica Womack is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art and Archaeology and is pursuing graduate certificates in African American Studies and Latin American Studies. She studies modern and contemporary art of the Caribbean and Black Diaspora and focuses on nation-building, identity (re)formation, and space/spatialization. She is especially interested in African Diasporic religions and their iconography and visual culture in postcolonial and post-revolutionary contexts.
Jessica currently serves as the project manager of the digital humanities research project Art Hx: Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism.
Director, Prison Teaching Initiative
Jill Stockwell was previously a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton, affiliated with the Prison Teaching Initiative and the University Center for Human Values. As a postdoc, Jill managed the NSF-funded STEPs to STEM launch pilot grant, which aims to broaden participation in STEM fields among currently and formerly incarcerated people. Jill has taught literature and composition courses with PTI since 2013 and has coordinated humanities and social science programming since 2015. Jill holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Princeton University and was a Fulbright and Social Science Research Council fellow. Her current scholarship uses literary and cultural artifacts to examine the troubled relationship between incarceration and democracy in the Turkish and American contexts.
Ibrahim Sulaimani, Transformative Justice Initiative
Ibrahim Sulaimani is a juvenile lifer in the State of New Jersey. Released on May 24, 2018 after serving 100% of a 30 years to Life Sentence for a crime committed on March 1, 1988 when he was just 15 years old. Ibraim is now the Executive Director of Transformative Justice Initiative LLC, which is a Consultancy of men and women with lived and shared experiences in carceral spaces. While serving his 30 year sentence Ibrahim dedicated his time towards his education. His first action was completing his schooling. After accumulating the required credits Ibrahim received his High School Diploma from Trenton Central High in 1994, through Garden State Correctional Facility. He then set his eyes on higher learning, enrolling in American Open University through correspondence. While working towards his degree, he also completed an number of certification and programs which include over 9,000 Hours of Upholstery, Para Legal Training, Data Processing, ServSafe Food Management, OSHA 30, and a number of Behavioral programs. His educational pursuits were halted in 2003 after an Administrative move took him from Garden State Correctional Facility and to East Jersey State Prison were such opportunities were very limited. It wasn't until NJSTEP (New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prison), a consortium of New Jersey Colleges/Universities run by the Mountain View Community of Rutgers New Brunswick and Newark, came to East Jersey State Prison in 2012 that he was able to continue in his education. In May of 2016, Ibrahim obtained an Associates Degree in Libraal Arts, before moving onto obtaining his Bachelors in Criminal Justice Studies, which he is still in pursuit of through Rutgers Camden where his is an undergraduate. Since his release, Ibrahim has participated in a number of Senate Hearing which advocate for prisoners and those on both parole and probation. Most notably was 1844 no more which pushed for those on parole and probation in New Jersey to be able to participate in the democratic process. He as also been featured on NJTV News Spotlight, has given commentary for the Courier and Tribune news papers, lends coarse assistance to students at Swarthmore Collage in PA, and has guest spoken at Princeton and Rutgers. He is apart of both Camden and Mercer Counties Reentry Committee, Co Founder of "Meet'em At The Gate" which welcomes home those being released from prison/jail, helping them navigate their release release and transition back into society. Ibrahim is also apart of New Jersey Prison Justice Watch, the Returning Citizens Group, Vice Chair for the Prison Survivors Union, part of the Latin Action Network, and is a Coordinator for the Camden Center For Youth Development.
PhD student, Urban Studies
Miriam Taylor is a Mississippi native who received both her B.A. in Journalism and B.A. in English from the University of Mississippi, before completing her Masters in Journalism at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. Taylor’s research interest lies in socially engaged museum practices and the potential for positive change when cultural institutions work in active partnership with and for diverse communities, with a specific focus on institutions in the Gulf South.
Mónica Ramírez-Montagut is a devotee of museums. “I love visiting any kind of museum, anywhere.” Born in Mexico City, Mónica joined the MSU Broad team in 2020 after having served as director at the Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Throughout her extensive career, her approach to art is known for being both publicly engaged and socially conscious. Mónica received her Ph.D. in theory and history of architecture from Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. A trained architect, she co-curated the 2006 Zaha Hadid retrospective at the Guggenhiem Museum in NYC and then made the professional shift to work with contemporary artists. In 2020, Mónica joined the Board of Trustees of the U.S. International Council for Museums (ICOM), the Association of Art Museum Directors (AMMD), and was one of the panelists of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that selected artist Simone Leigh to represent the US in the 2022 Venice Biennale.
Nafeesah Goldsmith, New Jersey Prison Justice Watch
Nafeesah Goldsmith is the CEO of RISE, Real Intervention Supports Excellence, a mission-based sustainability initiative that supports initiatives that support at-risk communities and building prison-free futures. When she was 21 years old, she began serving a 15-year prison sentence at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, where she began her college career through the Clinton College Bound/NJ-STEP program. Goldsmith was released from prison on June 23, 2015, and dedicates her time to speaking on incarceration, reentry, the School to Prison Pipeline, and the effects of incarceration on families and communities. She studied Criminal Justice at Monmouth University after earning a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She is also an alumna of Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a degree in law.
Associate Professor of History and of African and African-American Studies
Sowande' M. Mustakeem is a historian with broad specializations in slavery at sea, medicine, Black women’s history, terror, violence, slavery and memory, criminality, policing, gender and executions in history. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Departments of History and African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Mustakeem is globally known for her two time award winning book, Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage (2016) which won the Wesley Logan prize in 2017 (jointly awarded by The American Historical Association and The Association for the Study of African American Life) for the best book for the history of the African Diaspora. She likewise won the 2020 Dred Scott Freedom Award for the Historical Literacy Excellence from the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation. The audio version of Slavery at Sea was released spring 2021. She has articles published in The Journal of African American History, Atlantic Studies, along with a number of essays in edited volumes. Her most recent contributions have appeared in BBC Magazine, the online publication Vox, “6 Myths About the History of Black People in America” and Keywords in African American Studies. She has been featured on BBC radio, and was on Henry Louis Gates’ PBS documentary series “Many Rivers to Cross.” She is also cohost of the Apple podcast “TheBookLane365”, which empowers future writers with tips and tools to activate productivity through writing. Mustakeem is currently working on her next book focused on women and crime.
NEW IN 2021: Slavery at Sea (Audiobook) (University of Illinois Press)
Executive Director and Founder
Syrita started Operation Restoration in 2016 to eradicate the roadblocks she faced when returning to society after incarceration. Syrita serves as the Executive Director and is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, and strategic plan of the organization.
Tamara Z Jamil, MASS Design Group
Tamara Z Jamil is an architectural designer and researcher interested in the spatial politics of incarceration, specifically addressing the jail construction boom occurring in the rural sphere in parallel to the ‘humanization’ of carceral infrastructure in the urban sphere.
She received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University with her theoretical thesis “Captivatem.” The project addressed how the prison’s removal from urbanity has excused society from assimilating the punitively sharp line used to differentiate ‘law-abiding’ citizens from ‘criminals.’
Tamara received her Masters in Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research zoomed into the closing of Rikers Island, the jail island in New York City, and the imminent construction of the four new Borough-Based Jails to comment on the nation’s prevalent support, financially and ideologically, of continuing jail construction and maintaining the ‘criminal’ identity instead of promoting justice reinvestment in targeted communities.
Associate Professor of History
Professor Wendy Warren specializes in the history of colonial North America and the early modern Atlantic World. She is particularly interested in the day-to-day practice of colonization, and in the negotiations and conflicts that exist between would-be rulers and the unruly.
She received her Ph.D. in history from Yale University, and joined the Princeton history department after holding a junior research fellowship at Christ Church College, Oxford University. From 2014-2017, she held Princeton University's Philip and Beulah Rollins Preceptorship. In 2019-2020, she was an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellow in residence at the Institute for Advanced Studies. Professor Warren is currently writing The Carceral Colony, an exploration of the role of prisons in the colonization of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century North America and the Atlantic World.