Restorative Practices Conference

The Oak Park Public Library’s 5th Annual Restorative Practices Conference delved into the transformative power of restorative practices in building compassionate and inclusive communities.

Audience members listening

This conference took place on January 19-20, 2024.
Friday schedule | Saturday schedule

Day 1: Friday, January 19, Conference schedule

Hear how restorative practices impact our library community and our surrounding communities. In addition to enriching educational sessions, you will have plenty of opportunities to network with like-minded individuals who share your passion for creating more compassionate and interconnected communities.

9-9:20 amRegistration & Light Breakfast Second Floor Veterans Room
9:20-9:30 amWelcome & OverviewSecond Floor Veterans Room
9:30-9:45 amLabor & Land Acknowledgement Second Floor Veterans Room
9:45-10 amOpening Remarks, State Rep. La Shawn K. FordSecond Floor Veterans Room
10-10:50 am Breakout Session 1: See belowSee below
11-11:50 amBreakout Session 2: See belowSee below
12-1 pmLunch Second Floor Veterans Room
1-1:50 pmCommunity Highlights Presenters: See belowSecond Floor Veterans Room
A Greater Good Foundation
Oak Park Township
2-2:50 pm Breakout Session 3: See belowSee below
3-4 pmClosing CircleSecond Floor Veterans Room

Day 1: Friday, January 19, Breakout session topic, presenter, location

Breakout Session 1: Utilizing Restorative Justice in a Public School Setting: This 50-minute session will introduce participants to three key pillars: building healthy and positive relationships, repairing harm and transforming conflict, and creating just and equitable learning environments. These pillars will be explored through three experiential activities designed to strengthen people’s comfort levels with each one. The session will end with a reflective opportunity to integrate learning from the activities and determine at least one concrete step for bringing it back to our every day worlds.Brighid O’Shaughnessy, Touch of Wholeness

Sylvia Gutierrez and Guadalupe Rivera, Stevenson Elementary School
First Floor Lobby Community Space
Breakout Session 1: Tending to Our Healing Deserts: The Need for Deeper Relationships (beyond just political ‘wins’) between Asians and Other Communities of Color: This session will invite participants to process: 1. The idea of Healing Deserts, 2. How it sustains enemization particularly in the relationship between Asians and other communities of color (e.g., Asian businesses in black neighborhoods, National Teachers Academy, Venezuelan Newcomers), 3. The limitation of logic and history as a means of tending to our Healing Deserts, and 4. How our business seeks to grow abundant Healing Gardens, using wearable art (clothing and design) to both engage our communities and raise dollars to provide accessible Circles and Circle Trainings for our communities of color to nurture a radically loving community.Andrew Hong, We Each BelongSecond Floor
Scoville Room
Breakout Session 1: Plug Into the Power of Parents: We believe for long-term restorative justice change, parents are fundamental change agents in our communities. How can we partner with our parents and community to build a more restorative world? In this circle, we will dive into the 5 Keys of Parent Engagement and the 7 core assumptions of restorative justice and how we can use them to create powerful frame for schools to engage parents the restorative practices of the school. Participants will: 1. Understand the interconnectedness of parents, community, & schools 2. Learn the successful work of parent/community led peace centers in Chicago Public Schools. 3. Engage in accessing their school’s readiness to bring in parents as circle keepers. 4. Create a plan for parent engagement circle.Karen Lynn Morton,
KL Morton Enterprises
Second Floor
Small Meeting Room
Breakout Session 2: Examining School Discipline: Legal Updates and Equity Issues in PreK-12 Schools: This presentation will examine legal updates and trends related to school discipline in the past several years. With the increasing scrutiny of disciplinary practices and their impact on students, educators, lawyers, and policymakers must remain informed on the latest developments in this field. It will also discuss how restorative justice is needed for equitable disciplinary practices and to combat the school-to-prison pipeline.Tiffany Puckett, JD, PhD, Northern Illinois University

Miranda Johnson, JD, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
First Floor
Community Engagement Space
Breakout Session 2: Building Economic Opportunity Through Community, Hope, and Healing: Discover how Cara Collective and SisterHouse built their models rooted in trauma-informed care—and why it is not only key to their program outcomes but in building economic opportunity for a largely overlooked population. Executive leaders from both organizations, Dr. Kim Massenburg, Chief Program Officer for Cara Collective, and Patricia Banks, Executive Director of SisterHouse, will unpack the unique service delivery models for both organizations, including how investing in a socio-emotional approach will drive greater success; how they continue to re-think and expand their services to become more trauma-informed in their care; and what are some of the most common challenges and misconceptions about this work–and how we can begin dismantling them. Dr. Kim Massenburg, Cara Collective  

Patricia Banks,  SisterHouse
Second Floor
Veterans Room
Breakout Session 3: Sacred Rest, a workshop for descendants of the African Diaspora and their loved ones: Together we will learn sustainable rest practices rooted in African indigenous medicine and Black feminist theory. Participants will leave with a toolkit of practical rituals, recipes, and meditations to cultivate restoration and connection for themselves and their communities.Aaliyah OyaSeeke, Li’s Temple Whol(e)listic Wellness
First Floor Lobby Community Space
Breakout Session 3: Justice Done Right: Restorative Teaching & Learning in Chicago: In this workshop, we will sit in circle and discuss the transformative power of restorative justice as a critical and ethical pedagogy. Our conference theme of “Building Community” maps on perfectly to the “pracademic” emphasis of institutions like DePaul University, where students are encouraged to connect their life on campus with service in the community. We will consider recent student perspectives on their first year experience at DePaul, which includes field trips to the various courts, corrections, and community hubs dedicated to restorative practices in the city.Joe Rice, DePaul UniversitySecond Floor
Veterans Room

Day 1: Friday, January 19, About breakout session presenters

Brighid O’Shaughnessy is a passionate Restorative Practices Coach and Licensed Social Worker working with Chicago Public Schools. Her focus is on building adult capacity to prioritize healthy relationships and repair harm as well as ensure schools are equitable and just, especially for students of color and those with mental health challenges, disabilities and neurodivergence. Prior to her current work, Brighid founded and ran Erasing the Distance, a highly regarded non-profit organization that uses documentary theater to shed light on issues of mental health. During her tenure, the organization reached over 55,000 people nationwide. She has two masters degrees, one from DePaul University in Applied Professional Studies as well as a Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago with a specialization in Trauma.
Sylvia Gutierrez was born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago, where she continues to live with her husband and two daughters. She is currently the Youth Intervention Specialist at Stevenson Elementary School where she works with students and families using Restorative Practices. Sylvia has spent her professional career focused on education, family engagement, and public health and believes that we all have the ability to make a positive change in the world by building healthy relationships.
Guadalupe Rivera is a distinguished professional at the forefront of transformative education and community leadership. Armed with a Bachelor’s in Education and dual Master’s degrees in Community and Teacher Leadership, along with Public Policy, Guadalupe serves as the Culture and Climate Team Lead, PBIS Coach, and Social Emotional Learning Teacher at Stevenson. With a rich background in child behavior psychology and proficiency in PBIS and CHAMPs methodologies, Guadalupe exemplifies a commitment to restorative justice principles. Their role extends beyond conventional boundaries, emphasizing inclusive practices that nurture positive environments and empower students to thrive. 
Andrew Hong is a Circle keeper, Restorative Justice practitioner, community healer, educator, possibility grower, and founder of WE EACH BELONG–a racial healing, Restorative Justice streetwear brand on a mission to deepen relationships between Asians x other folx of color. He uses his streetwear as wearable communication that raises not only curiosity and engagement, but also raises money that funds racial healing Circles and Circle Trainings across the city. Andrew is a Restorative Justice Coach in Chicago Public Schools and serves the Options High School Network. He helps school communities shift from a culture of punishment and blame to a culture of relationship, trust, and meaningful accountability by providing Circles for both staff and students, coaching on Restorative Practices, and consultation on school systems that build and sustain the culture.
(Karen) Lynn Morton is a member of the New Garden Missionary Baptist Church, where Pastor Sherman Hallom, Sr., serves as Pastor. As Lynn went through the struggles of being pregnant and unmarried in the church, God began to take the pain and depression of the situation and turn it into the road for her ministry. Through the fears and tears of this time in her life God began to give Lynn a burden for youth and women. As Lynn says, “God took my misery and turned it into my ministry.” Lynn’s love for people has carried over into her professional life. Lynn facilitates Parent Leadership Development Workshops in the Chicago Public School System and has founded The Austin Peace Center, established to equip the youth with restorative justice tools and practices that can help them to deal with various conflicts that they face day to day.
Tiffany Puckett, JD, PhD, is an attorney and Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University where she teaches education law in the College of Education and the College of Law. Her research focuses on how education law and policy impact marginalized and disadvantaged students. She has presented at national conferences on equity issues related to school discipline law and policies.
Miranda Johnson, JD, is an attorney and clinical professor of law and the Director of the Education Law and Policy Institute at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She teaches Education Law and Policy, the Education Law Practicum, and other courses in education law. She also supervises law students in the representation of parents and students in school discipline and special education cases. She has presented at national conferences and training programs in Illinois on prevention-oriented approaches to reduce the use of exclusionary school discipline practices.
Aaliyah OyaSeeke, MA, is a practicing medical anthropologist and mystic. They combine their academic experience and spiritual practices to provide whol(e)listic wellness services to individuals, communities, and organizations. It is Aaliyah’s goal to help cultivate spaces of liberation, ancestral wisdom, and healing for those of the global majority.
Dr. Kim Massenburg is the Chief Program Officer for Cara Collective. She holds a doctorate in counselor education and supervision from Argosy University and has over 15 years of servicing individuals impacted by homelessness, domestic violence, mental health and substance abuse, and trauma. Dr. Massenburg has 12 years of experience supervising staff, facilitating trainings and community workshops covering a variety of topic, and has held certification in domestic violence and substance abuse during her professional tenure. In addition, Dr. Massenburg has ten years of program development and evaluation experience. Dr. Massenburg has a proven track record of developing programs and staff, providing leadership and improving the services provided to targeted populations. Before joining Cara Collective, Dr. Massenburg served as Executive Director of Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House in Cambridge, MA for almost three years.
Patricia Banks is the Executive Director at SisterHouse Chicago, an organization that is committed to helping women who struggle with having an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Cultivating her passion to help an underserved population of women, Patricia is dedicated to providing a safe and structured living community to educate and empower women to live sober and fulfilling lives and to take their rightful place in the community and society as a whole. She is actively involved with her West Side community. She is on the Advisory Board of St. Catherine – St. Lucy Paris and they have just incorporated a 501c3 called the Neighborhood Bridge. This community center will help bridge the gap with Oak Park, Austin, and other surrounding communities. Patricia has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology obtained at Chicago State University and is recognized through the Illinois Certification Board, Inc., as a Certified AODA Counselor, CADC.
Joe Rice, MA, is a crisis worker, Army veteran, and restorative justice educator. Currently Joe instructs at DePaul University, National Louis University, and Roosevelt University, all of which allow him to employ a restorative approach to teaching and learning. In 2024, he will train with the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program at DePaul and continue an APSA-funded restorative civic engagement grant with NLU and Build, Inc., on the West Side of Chicago.

Day 1: Friday, January 19, About Community Highlights presenters

Bradly Johnson

Bradly Johnson, BUILD Inc., serves as the Chief Community Officer at BUILD Inc., a company dedicated to the broader urban involvement and leadership development. His career is marked by his commitment to enhancing the lives of youth and families on the Westside. His pivotal role in the company involves creating community programs, fostering collaborations, and promoting activities that boost opportunities and enhance the well-being and future prospects of youth and families. One of his notable contributions is the establishment of the Peace and Justice Center at BUILD.

With more than three decades of experience, Bradly has worked extensively with communities, youth, and young adults affected by trauma, violence, and other systemic challenges. He is a native of the Austin neighborhood and a proud graduate of Chicago Public Schools. Prior to his tenure at BUILD, he held multiple leadership positions at St. Joseph Services, a nonprofit organization serving the youth and adults of Austin and Humboldt Park.

Bradly embarked on his professional journey in 1991, working with detained youth at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership and a master’s degree in Public Administration from DePaul University. In addition to his work at BUILD, Bradly is actively involved in various community initiatives such as Austin Coming Together and the My CHI. My Future. initiative. He is a founding member of the Westside Rising coalition and an active participant in Austin Coming Together and The Juvenile Justice Collaborative. He is also a distinguished alum of the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy Fellowship.

Josh Easter

Joshua Easter, A Greater Good Foundation, a native of Oak Park, Chicago and its western suburbs, developed a profound desire to enhance economically disadvantaged neighborhoods through his exposure to diverse communities. His academic journey led him to Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, NC, where he pursued a major in Sport Management. Recently, he successfully earned his Master’s Degree in Sports Administration from Northwestern University, concurrently serving as a Teaching Assistant for children with autism and alternative learning abilities. Joshua is dedicated to fostering positive relationships, building self-confidence, and effecting positive change through sports, recreation, personal development, and mentorship.

Charles Carter Jr.

Charles Carter, Jr., A Greater Good Foundation, is a native of the South Side of Chicago, was raised in Gary, IN, and is an alumnus of Valparaiso University, where he distinguished himself as a Division I athlete. Despite facing a challenging childhood, Charles found a profound passion for providing a second chance to misguided youth, allowing them to rediscover their inherent greatness. He attributes his own transformation to the unwavering support of a dedicated team that refused to give up on him. Charles is a certified restorative practitioner, athletic coach for basketball and football, and trained SEL facilitator. 

James Turner

James Turner, A Greater Good Foundation, rooted on the South Side of Chicago, James’s journey is characterized by resilience and a dedication to academic excellence. Despite 14 relocations before 5th grade, a transformative decision at age 11 provided the stability needed for scholastic focus, culminating in his graduation from Valparaiso University in 2017. Guided by mentors and a transformative mindset, James overcame challenges, discovering a passion for mentoring. He shares his story to inspire belief in the attainability of any goal, encapsulated in the mantra, “If you’re looking for something to believe in, why not yourself?” As a dedicated professional in the service industry, his objective is to positively impact individuals and communities in every engagement.

Cody Cotton

Cody Cotton, A Greater Good Foundation, is a co-founder and Chief of Heart of A Greater Good Foundation, a youth mentoring organization in Chicago. Through a conscious, restorative, and holistic approach, he’s been able to curate spaces that inspire youth to adopt narratives and beliefs that are aligned with their ideal self. Cody serves on the Community Action Advisory Board for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research Leaders. He supports cohorts in the United States as they focus on community-collaborated research to build a true culture of health. With 10-plus years of studying and teaching the mind, he recently acquired an MA in Consciousness and Human Potential from Maharishi International University. He currently enjoys progressing toward his life goal of serving, connecting, and growing with diverse global communities through their #LetsGrowTogether initiative. Cody truly loves what he does and he is grateful to be supported by his beloved wife, two sons, and his community.

Jacob Matson

Jacob Matson, Oak Park Township, is the dedicated Community Justice Manager at Oak Park Township. He joined the Township approximately 1.5 years ago, following his graduation from Marquette University where he studied Political Science and Criminology & Law Studies. His academic journey continued at Adler University, where he earned his Master’s in Public Policy. His current role at Oak Park Township has proven to be the perfect intersection of his interests in politics and criminology. It provides an excellent platform for him to further develop his professional skills and deepen his knowledge. Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Jacob is a fervent supporter of the Cubs and Bears. His passion for his work and his community is evident in all that he does.

Laura Devitt

Laura Devitt, Oak Park Township, holds an MSW and LCSW and is a proud native of Oak Park and an alumna of Oak Park and River Forest High School. She pursued her undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Upon completion, Laura felt the call to return to Chicago and enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she obtained her Master’s Degree in Social Work with a specialization in school social work. Following graduation, Laura eagerly accepted a role with the Oak Park Township. For the past four years, she has been serving youth and families via Oak Park Township. She began her professional journey as a Youth Engagement Specialist, formerly known as Youth Interventionist, and later advanced to Youth Engagement Program Manager. Laura finds immense satisfaction in contributing to the community that raised her. She harbors a deep passion for youth mental health and is dedicated to making a positive impact in this area.

Dominique Hickman

Dominique Hickman, Oak Park Township & Girls on the Rise, is a native of the Austin community on the west side of Chicago, has dedicated her career to supporting and serving Black youth and families. With 13 years of experience in the social services sector, she has worked in various roles before joining Oak Park Township. Dominique served as a Community Support Specialist at Thresholds, assisting clients with severe mental health diagnoses in the West and Southside of Chicago. Her work included conducting home and residential visits, counseling clients, and monitoring their quality of care. She has also served as a Housing Specialist with the Chicago Housing Authority, a Shift Leader Residential Counselor with Lutheran Child and Family Services, and The Youth Campus in Park Ridge, and a Corrections Officer with the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles. Dominique earned her Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Corrections from Kaplan University in 2012, following her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Lewis University in 2009.

Barry Koren

Barry Koren, PeaceBrook, originally from Harlem, New York, experienced the impact of urban renewal firsthand when his family was displaced at the age of 15. This early experience sparked a lifelong interest in architecture and urban planning. After years of dedication and hard work, Barry became a skilled architect, working for various architectural firms and for Montgomery Ward. He also served as an urban planner for the City of South Bend and the Centers for New Horizons, a large social service agency on Chicago’s South Side. His expertise expanded into marketing consultancy, where he offered his services to architectural and engineering firms as a self-employed professional. Since 2015, Barry has been deeply involved in community empowerment work on Chicago’s West Side, using his skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in the community.

Day 2: Saturday, January 20, Conference schedule

9-9:30 amRegistration & BreakfastSecond Floor Veterans Room
9:30-9:45 amWelcome & OverviewSecond Floor Veterans Room
9:45-10:30 amPresentation: Libraries Serving Justice-Impacted Individuals by M’Balu “Lu” BanguraSecond Floor Veterans Room
10:30-10:45 amNetworking & Break
10:50-11:20 am Screening Dispelling the Myth Documentaries Second Floor Veterans Room
11:20 am-12:20 pmLunch & Learn: Bridge to Freedom live performanceSecond Floor Veterans Room
12:30-1:20 pmBreakout Session 1: See belowSecond Floor See below
1:30-2:20 pmBreakout Session 2: See belowSecond Floor See below
2:30-2:45 pmNetworking & Break
2:50-4 pmPanel Discussion: See belowSecond Floor Veterans Room
4 pm Closing RemarksSecond Floor Veterans Room

Day 2: Saturday, January 20, Speaker: M’Balu “Lu” Bangura, Chief of Equity and Fair Practice, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore

Project ENCORE’s mission is to provide resources to individuals who have been incarcerated to assist with reentry, reintegration and recidivism prevention. Our current workforce development program gives opportunities to those who have a desire to be reintroduced to the workforce without having their conviction be a hindrance to employment. We recognize, however, that there are some persons who desire to create their own path to create consistent income for themselves while producing a legacy for their children and family.

The Juvenile Education Initiative will assist adolescents and teenagers become more confident and develop a comprehensive understanding of their academic work. Many students only leave the campus to attend school and some only attend classes virtually, limiting the amount of academic support available. Educators and tutors will work with the students to ensure they have the necessary support to become academically successful. Project ENCORE’s mission is to provide wrap-around services to those impacted by incarceration as they begin to reenter society. It is our goal to aid them in stability services that meet their needs holistically, thus preventing recidivism. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows that all human beings on the lowest level need air, food, water, shelter, sleep and clothing. The lack of proper clothing can be a barrier to persons who are just reentering the world. It hinders their ability to be employed, it promotes low self-esteem, impacts mental health, and creates a social divide for those already struggling to re-acclimate to current social norms.

Day 2: Saturday, January 20, Breakout session topic, presenter, location

Breakout Session 1: Restorative Practices in the Criminal Justice System: As a formerly incarcerated woman I share my story and show the genuine transformation that anyone is capable of. I have a podcast series that focuses on the change that must take place inside of us to triumph in the face of struggle and adversity. I use my skills as a survivor and former inmate to articulate the need for criminal justice reform and perpetuate that more of those who have been adversely impacted by the system should be the ones who steer the direction of policy and reentry. Syreta Toson, Mataka Askari, Survivalist Tactics Speaking LLCFirst Floor: Community Engagement Space
Breakout Session 1: Returning Home from Incarceration: Navigating the Process: This roundtable discussion will focus on the collateral consequences from carceral systems. Both cultural and structural barriers exist for justice-involved individuals, and the construct of stigma is a mechanism for furthering cultural and structural barriers. The social construction of stigma is best described by sociologist Erving Goffman, who contended that stigma is the “situation of the individual who is disqualified from full social acceptance.” Laws, policies, and practices that are empowering individuals returning home remain absent. The social determinants of health, highlighting both education and employment, are a means to imagine post-incarceration justice in a meaningful way. Higher education, in particular, has played a significant role in providing individuals with access to opportunities that lead to positive social mobility. Legislative support can create policies and practices that empower individuals returning home. The structural nature of stigma can be described as a common barrier resulting in macro-level discrimination. The labels and challenges of the formerly incarcerated individual will dissipate once the dehumanizing factors are taken away; the oppressed will no longer be oppressed (Travis et al, 2009). Many individuals with criminal backgrounds desire to change their lives and put the missteps of their pasts behind them. **Attendees with be discussing existing laws, policies and/or practices both in the community at large and academic settings that perpetuate stigma toward individuals that have been incarcerated.MoDena Stinnette, Peace & Justice SolutionsSecond Floor: Veterans Room
Breakout Session 2: Circles, Circle Keeping, and Training—Inside Correctional Facilities: Sister Janet Ryan and Eric Anderson will share experiences starting Circle practices inside a Correctional Institution. Discussing the inception and evolution of the program, including our roles and what our best practices have been thus far. We would also like to use a portion of our time for question and answer, and/or commentary from people, and/or some networking with other people who are doing work in this space of legal reforms.Eric Anderson, Restore Justice Foundation 

Sister Janet Ryan, Precious Blood of Reconciliation
First Floor: Community Engagement Space
Breakout Session 2: Transformative Power of Restorative Justice and Education: Broderick Hollins and James Lenoir will share their stories and experiences as Northwestern Prison Education Program Students and Restorative Justice Team Members. They will discuss the development of the Restorative Justice Team with law professor Annie Buth who has supported their restorative work through a grant collaboration with the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, and they will talk about their views on education and restorative justice. They will explain how the Restorative Justice Team is part of a much-needed movement inside and outside of prison for transformation based on love, interconnection, peace, and understanding. Additionally, they will describe ways restorative justice can uplift those who have experienced and caused harm through the creation of opportunities for people to be heard and seen instead of dehumanized. James and Broderick will also educate the audience about the realities of reentry and the ongoing punishment they face from reentry barriers. They will talk with Annie about re-entry and its relationship to restorative justice, racism, injustice, hope, and healing.
Annie Buth, Northwestern Prison Education Program 

Broderick Hollins, The Center on Negotiation, Mediation

​​James D. Lenoir,  Restorative Justice at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Second Floor: Veterans Room

Day 2: Saturday, January 20, Breakout session presenters

Syreta Toson was raised in Kansas City, Missouri to a wonderful family of learners. She became incarcerated at the age of 28 years old. While she was incarcerated, she changed both her attitude and her mindset. She became an active participant in programming and continues her work outside the facility. It has become her life’s mission to change the narrative of what a formerly incarcerated person can and does look like.
MoDena Stinnette, PhD, CPRS Community Psychologist, has worked in social services since 2004. Her contributions include a combination of lived experience, education, and professional development. Dr. Stinnette is dedicated to advocating and working with communities that are experiencing challenges related to carceral systems. Her current roles include: Social Worker/PRC for University of Illinois Chicago, Reducing Opioid Mortality in Illinois project, Project, Adjunct Faculty with National Louis University, Chicago, IL, Governors State University, University Park IL and Dominican University, River Forest IL, Member of Education Justice Project, Board Member for Live4Lali’s Harm Reduction organization and Founding Board Member for The Mantle, IRB member ,University of Chicago, IL, and a plethora of other community based projects and volunteer efforts. Dr. Stinnette serves as the Executive Director for Peace and Justice Solutions.
Sister Janet Ryan & Eric Anderson work together in trying to bring healing and humanity to people who are incarcerated in Illinois. They began their work together in May 2022 while Eric was still incarcerated. Eric and Sister Janet have worked to create opportunities for men and women inside facilities to receive their training. Thus far they have worked at Stateville Correctional Center and Kewanee Life Skills Re-entry Center facilities and given their training.
Annie Buth is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law in the Center on Negotiation, Mediation, and Restorative Justice at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and restorative justice practitioner. She believes restorative justice can play an integral role in building healthier relationships and more just, equitable, connected, and inclusive communities as well as repairing harm. She focuses on the Center’s restorative initiatives, which includes designing and teaching courses and partnering with outside groups. As part of a grant, Annie collaborated with the Northwestern Prison Education and James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy to develop and support a restorative justice team. 
Broderick Hollins Sr. is a soul survivor and leader. Broderick is a father of four amazing children, and he’s a grandson of a Black Panther. Being born handicap on the South Side of Chicago in the 80’s was a challenge. Broderick survived almost 13 years in prison and three police brutalities. Broderick helped start a prison mentorship program. He became a college student through the Northwestern Prison Education Program, earning an associate’s degree and enrolling in a Northwestern University social science bachelor’s degree program. Broderick is a restorative justice liaison who connects people in custody to people on the outside, and he is a trained circle keeper. He has been involved in many RJ events such as the Institute on Equitable Systems Design through the National Center on Restorative Justice. Broderick is an NPEP Fellow and a Cook County Racial Equity Fellow through the Justice Advisory Council.
James D. Lenior is a formerly incarcerated citizen born and raised on Chicago’s West Side. He earned an associate’s degree from Oakton Community College in a bachelor’s degree program through the Northwestern Prison Education Program. He is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree. Reentry work is a passion that drives him to use restorative justice practices with other people coming home from prison.

Day 2: Saturday, January 20, Panel discussion participants

Andre Thomas

MODERATOR Andre Thomas, a native and active community member of the Southside of Chicago, has a wealth of experience in community development and violence prevention. He gained recognition for his impactful work with CeaseFire/Cure Violence, where he fostered meaningful connections between African American youth and their environment. Andre worked closely with the high-risk population, individuals susceptible to gun violence, serving as a violence interrupter and mediating conflicts at both group and individual levels. He also played a pivotal role in the initial planning stages of a mentoring intervention targeting high school and middle school youth from the Englewood area.

In addition to his work with CeaseFire, Andre established a partnership with Loyola University, reinforcing his commitment to aiding at-risk youth. Collaborating with Loyola, Andre has actively mentored students in the south side of Chicago at local elementary schools, including Gresham Middle School and Dumas Technology Academy Elementary School. The mentoring program was designed to enhance the youth’s ability to resolve conflicts effectively, develop leadership skills, and empower them to effect positive change in their community.

Andre also volunteers at the Zakat Foundation of America, where he mentors children, adolescents, and adults among other service activities. His experience extends to working in three level one trauma centers (Advocate Christ, Northwestern, and The University of Chicago Medical Center) where he provides support to victims of violence and their families in emergency departments.

Currently, Andre serves as the Executive Director of Integrity and Fidelity, an initiative focused on violence intervention and prevention. The initiative aims to engage and connect the high-risk population with the necessary resources to facilitate their transition towards pro-social behavior. Andre’s work is of exceptional quality, demonstrating his ability to execute any assigned duties seamlessly. His commitment to community development and violence prevention is evident in his extensive contributions to the South Side of Chicago.

PANELIST Omar Yamini is the author of What’s wrong with you! What you, your children and our students need to know about my 15-year imprisonment from age 20-35.

Joseph Mapp

PANELIST Joseph Mapp, a devoted Restorative Justice Practitioner, is deeply committed to the cause of ending mass incarceration. As a returning citizen still affected by the justice system, he is motivated to put a stop to perpetual punishment. His life’s work revolves around participating in and promoting healing-centered activities.

Joseph holds the position of Program Manager and Director of Reentry at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR), a faith-based organization focused on restorative justice based in the Back of the Yards community in Chicago. His role involves managing a variety of private and government grants, supervising two programs, and handling two sub-tier contracts with partner organizations that concentrate on community violence intervention.

In collaboration with other organizations like New Life Centers, he provides mentorship and trauma-informed education to the young men at IYC St. Charles, a juvenile detention center. Beyond his professional commitments, Joseph volunteers for several organizations advocating for human dignity and the restoration of rights for those affected by incarceration. He is an active member of the steering committee for three organizations: the Illinois Coalition for Higher Education in Prison, the Education Justice Project at the University of Illinois, and PBMR. A graduate of NEIU, Joseph is currently pursuing an MBA in Management and Leadership with a focus on social impact.

Mica V. Battle

PANELIST Dr. Mica V. Battle, with a PhD in Organizational Management, serves as the director of the nonprofit prison re-entry initiative, Bridge to Freedom. Her work extends to both male and female prisons in Illinois, as well as international locations such as Cambodia in Southeast Asia.

In addition to her directorial role, Dr. Mica is also a respected adjunct professor at four top-tier universities in Vietnam. Her unique teaching style in Leadership Development is loved by students both in Asia and America. Her experience working in inner-city Chicago has equipped her to mentor and teach leadership in Compton, CA, and other areas.

Dr. Mica also channels her expertise into writing, producing books aimed at empowering individuals dealing with grief, shame, and addiction. Her recent release is a workbook designed to guide ordinary people in writing and publishing their own books. Dr. Mica co-owns Chicago Soul, an eclectic coffee house, and a Black Box Theater, both of which she runs with her husband, Michael Abbott. The theater serves as a healing space for returning citizens. Dr. Mica is a proud mother to three adult children, Shawn, British, and Gordon, and is a doting grandmother to five grandchildren. She also has two sisters.

Aaron Smith

PANELIST Aaron Smith hails from the South Side of Chicago and is a proud alumnus of Columbia College Chicago, where he acquired his bachelor’s degree in business management. His journey through the criminal justice system began shortly after his graduation. In 2009, he was convicted for distributing heroin and fentanyl and was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison. Despite his illicit activities, Aaron always knew he had the spirit of an entrepreneur, as his drug operations were generating over $10,000 daily. However, he realized, “I was selling the wrong product, so I had to switch hustles and get back to the essence of who I was.”

In February 2019, after serving nine years and five months, Aaron was released from federal prison. His unwavering faith in God and relentless hard work propelled him to pursue his entrepreneurial passion. He established his media and holding company, Escape the Odds, and developed various partnerships. By December 2019, he had launched the Escaping the Odds podcast, a platform to share inspiring stories of redemption through business. His efforts were recognized in 2021 when he received the Media for a Just Society Award in the podcast/radio category. Currently, Aaron is gearing up for the release of his first full-length documentary, Escaping the Odds of Recidivism.

Aaron’s mission is to inspire others to chase their entrepreneurial dreams and lead fulfilling lives. His latest ventures, U Turn Transport and a box truck course for noncommercial driver’s license holders, provide employment opportunities for other formerly incarcerated individuals. He also conducts financial literacy and entrepreneurship workshops across the country for incarcerated individuals and inner-city youth. Additionally, Aaron serves as a community liaison with Cook County’s Safety Justice Challenge, where he contributed to developing the award-winning first fellowship equity cohort of justice-impacted persons led by the Justice Advisory Council of Cook County. Find more information about his work in Crain’s Chicago Business, Good Morning America, and the Escaping the Odds podcast.

PANELIST Dr. La’Shawn Littrice, a proud native of Chicago’s South Side Englewood Community, is a distinguished scholar and entrepreneur. Her journey began at National Louis University (NLU), where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. After gaining experience in the corporate world, she launched her own accounting firm, demonstrating her entrepreneurial spirit.

Dr. Littrice’s passion for her community led her to concern herself with issues such as inequality, violence, and incarceration. She, with her husband, established a non-profit organization and several businesses aimed at empowering youth with entrepreneurial skills for college funding and helping previously incarcerated men reintegrate into society through job opportunities.

After operating her accounting firm for nearly two decades, Dr. Littrice’s growing interest in advocating for those impacted by incarceration led her back to academia. She earned a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from NLU in 2015, focusing her research on alternatives to mass incarceration. Dr. Littrice is the founder of Make Noize for Change, NFP, an organization that addresses systemic issues such as educational quality, racism, homelessness, poverty, and police violence against Black and Brown communities. Her tireless advocacy work has earned her the position of Director of Mass Incarceration, Criminal Justice Reform, and Restorative Justice at the International Congress on Faith and Social Justice.

PANELIST Stephen Jackson, as the Director of Equity and Anti-Racism at Oak Park Public Library, is a leading figure in the field of restorative justice. Alongside his role at the library, Stephen is a co-founder and licensed therapist at CORH Counseling, PC, a mental health practice that focuses on serving the black and African American communities. With more than a decade of experience as a motivational speaker and restorative justice practitioner, Stephen is dedicated to using restorative justice and practices to foster positive, safe environments within organizations and communities.

In 2016, Stephen was instrumental in the integration of social services at Oak Park Public Library, making it the fourth library in the United States to bring a social worker onto its staff. Throughout his career, Stephen has held various roles such as Social Services Specialist, Teen Services Coordinator, and Manager of Teen Services. In 2021, he made history by becoming the library’s first Director of Equity and Anti-Racism. Stephen’s work involves building relationships with numerous library institutions nationwide that are striving to dismantle systemic racism and oppressive systems. His efforts have led to the development of frameworks that effectively engage with some of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations within libraries.

A lifelong learner who values intentional engagement, Stephen is not only a dedicated professional but also a devoted family man. He is the proud husband of Dr. Celeste A. Jackson and the loving father of four wonderful children: Zayden, Stephen Jr., Simeon, and Sophia.

Restorative practices at the library

Restorative practices, including peace circles, have increasingly been used at the Oak Park library over the past several years. Both peace circles and restorative practices in general have roots in indigenous cultures, from those in North America and all over the world. They can be used to build community, to offer support and healing, to resolve conflicts, and more. They take a group perspective and include bringing empathy to a situation, seeking first to understand, and helping people without doing further harm. And they are a natural fit with the library’s vision to empower every voice in our community and mission to share the information, services, and opportunities that fulfill Oak Park’s aspirations. Read about past conferences and restorative practices library news »

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Restorative practices

Dispelling the myth of recidivism