J.D., M.P.A.Advisory Committee ChairLoyola University New Orleans College of LawNew Orleans, LA
Professor Andrea Armstrong, a leading national expert on prison and jail conditions at Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law, will serve as Chair. Andrea's research focuses on the constitutional dimensions of prison and jails, specifically deaths in custody, prison labor practices, the intersection of race and conditions of incarceration, and public oversight of detention facilities. Her most recent project examining who is dying and how in Louisiana prisons, jails, and detention centers is widely cited as the first comprehensive study of deaths in custody. The project will provide in-depth data and analysis for policy makers, advocates, and academics, and will build a foundation for future reform and legislation. She served as the inaugural co-chair of the Community Advisory Group for the New Orleans MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge (2017-2019), and was a founding board member of the Promise of Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization focused on death penalty abolition and prison conditions.
J.D., M.P.A.Advisory Committee MemberConsultantSan Diego, CA
Neelum Arya has nearly 25 years of experience working on social justice issues at the federal, state, and local levels. Over the course of her career, she has worked with the leading social justice organizations in the country, mastered multiple reform strategies, and has achieved reforms across numerous issue areas including health, juvenile and criminal justice, education, racial and ethnic disparities, and voting rights. Neelum’s main role in the criminal justice field at present is serving as a Policy Advisor to John Legend’s FREEAMERICA campaign to end mass incarceration and she also teaches an executive-level policy reform fellowship, Justice Policy Network.
J.D.Advisory Committee MemberDallas County District AttorneyDallas, TX
John Creuzot is the District Attorney of Dallas County, Texas and a nationally-recognized leader with more than 30 years of experience in criminal law and criminal justice reform. Creuzot is well-known for his innovative, pioneering work on drug courts and evidence-based sentencing. He established the first specialty court for individuals charged with a drug offense in Dallas County, diverting them into intensive, court-monitored rehabilitation, and the county’s first re-entry court, which provides monitoring and continued rehabilitative services after in-custody treatment.
Creuzot has lectured and taught courses at the National Drug Court Institute, the National Judicial College, the National Center for State Courts, the Texas Center for the Judiciary, the Texas Bar Association, and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. He has also provided technical assistance to drug court teams across the country, and regularly appears in the news and on television as an expert on these and other criminal justice reform topics.
Before he was elected as District Attorney, Creuzot was an award-winning prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and Texas Criminal Court Judge, presiding for over twenty years. In honor of his legacy, Dallas County named its drug treatment facility the Judge John C. Creuzot Judicial Treatment Center.
J.D.Advisory Committee MemberCouncil on Criminal JusticeAustin, TX
Gina DeBottis Metts has been engaged in criminal justice, social justice, and educational causes in a variety of roles throughout her professional career, including as a prosecutor and as a board leader. She was most recently the Executive Director of the Special Prosecution Unit, a statewide agency charged with prosecuting crimes committed within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. After practicing law as a prosecutor for 22 years including 13 years as executive director, DeBottis Metts retired in 2015.
Beginning in 1992, DeBottis Metts tried numerous criminal cases including misdemeanors through first-degree felonies and appeared in courts including District Courts, Courts of Appeals and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. From 1999-2015, DeBottis Metts had extensive administrative and legislative experience. She supervised 50+ employees across three divisions in eight offices throughout Texas. DeBottis Metts oversaw $5M in state and grant funds and testified before numerous committees of the Texas Legislature on budgetary, criminal justice and civil commitment issues. In 2006, as a member of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission’s Investigation and Prosecution Standards Committee, she testified before the Commission concerning the prosecution of sexual assaults in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
In addition to serving on the PJIL Advisory Committee, Gina also serves on the LeMoyne College Board of Trustees. Gina is also Chair of the board of directors of her alma mater, St. Agnes Academy in Houston. Gina also serves as Past President of the statewide board of directors for the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas and serves on the board of directors for Texas Appleseed. Previously, Gina served on the Walker County Children’s Protective Service board of directors, as well as the All Ears! Listening and Language Center board of directors.
Gina received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from LeMoyne College in 1989 and her law degree from South Texas College of Law in 1992.
M.P.A.Advisory Committee MemberCorrectional Management InstituteHuntsville, TX
Doug Dretke is the Executive Director of the Correctional Management Institute (CMIT) located within the George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). He has served in his current capacity for the past 14 years. CMIT serves training and professional development needs of correctional professionals across the broad spectrum of corrections as well as serves as a resource for research needs and technical assistance. In addition CMIT serves as secretariat to a number of correctional professional associations and facilitates international exchanges and training with correctional agencies abroad.
Prior to CMIT, Doug served 26 years with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) beginning as a correctional officer and advancing through the ranks throughout his career. He served as a Senior Warden at two different facilities before his appointment as Regional Director, Deputy Director and finally Director of their Correctional Institutions Division (prison division).
In addition Doug serves as an Adjunct Faculty member for the College of Criminal Justice at SHSU teaching Correctional Systems and Practices. He is active nationally and internationally, training and presenting on leadership and correctional issues, and he is active with a number of state, national, and international professional associations. He is a past member of the Board of Governors for the ACA and is a Board Member of the International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA) – North America Chapter. He is a Past president of the Texas Corrections Association and received the Dr. George J Beto Hall of Honor Award in 2009 recognizing his significant achievements to the correctional profession.
J.D., Ph.D.Advisory Committee MemberLynfro ConsultingAustin, TX
Lynda Frost has 25+ years in the nonprofit sector working to improve health, human services, education, and criminal justice outcomes for vulnerable communities. For 14 years, Lynda served as the Director of Planning and Programs at the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin, and has extensive experience in grantmaking, program design, strategic planning, and public policy. She spent two decades teaching graduate students in law, public policy, education, and social work. Lynda is a staunch advocate for ensuring that people with lived experience – with mental health challenges, substance use, or incarceration – are visible, vocal, and valued in the policy change process. She is also an experienced attorney with legal expertise in human rights, juvenile justice, criminal law and mediation. Currently, Lynda owns and operates her own consulting firm, Lynfro Consulting, and helps foundations, nonprofits, governmental agencies, and private entities to clarify mission-consistent goals, implement effective programs, and optimize internal operations.
Ph.D., M.P.A.Advisory Committee MemberUrban InstituteBoston, MA
Kimberlyn Leary is a senior vice president at the Urban Institute where she manages research and program development. She also holds joint appointments at Harvard University, where she is an associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, an associate professor in the department of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. For four years, she directed the Enabling Change program for the Doctor of Public Health program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Leary also served as executive director of policy outreach and of the Center of Excellence in Women’s Mental Health at McLean Hospital. Before that, she was chief psychologist at the Cambridge Health Alliance for nearly 12 years.
Leary served as an advisor to the White House during the Obama administration. As a Robert Wood Johnson health policy fellow, she helped launch the Advancing Equity initiative for the Obama White House Council on Women and Girls. She was also an advisor to the health division at White House Office of Management and Budget and senior policy advisor to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Leary served on the Biden-Harris transition as a volunteer part-time member of the Agency Review Team for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Executive Office of the President.
Leary writes, consults, and teaches on adaptive leadership, leading teams, cross-boundary collaboration, negotiation, and conflict transformation. She holds an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, and she completed advanced training as a clinical psychoanalyst at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Association. Leary serves on the board of trustees at Amherst College, the Austen Riggs Center, and the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute and serves as an advisor to Pivotal Ventures and the Upswing Fund. Additionally, she serves as a judge for the McArthur Foundation's 100&Change competition and for Lever for Change's Lone Star Competition.
J.D.Advisory Committee MemberCouncil on Criminal JusticeHouston, TX
Marc Levin is Chief Policy Counsel for the Council on Criminal Justice. He began the Texas Public Policy Foundation's criminal justice program in 2005 and in 2010 developed the concept for the Right on Crime initiative. Levin was named to the "Politico 50" and has testified frequently on criminal justice policy before Congress and state legislatures. Levin received his undergraduate and law degrees with honors from the University of Texas and clerked on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Advisory Committee MemberJustLeadershipUSAPhoenix, AZ
Ronald D. Simpson-Bey is a national leader in the movement to decarcerate America, currently working as the Executive Vice President for JustLeadershipUSA. (JLUSA) He is also a 2015 Leading with Conviction (LwC) Fellow with JLUSA. Ronald is an LPI Trained Leadership Coach and is prominently featured in the book, Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, by Dr. Reuben Jonathan Miller. Ronald is also a contributing author to the book, Smart Decarceration: Achieving Criminal Justice Transformation in the 21st Century. Ronald serves as the Vice-Chair for the ABA Criminal Justice Section Victims Committee; he serves as a Special Advisor for the ABA Criminal Justice Section council; he serves as a board member for the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA); as a board member of the Michigan Center for Youth Justice (MCYJ); as a steering team member of the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration (MI-CEMI) and Nation Outside organizations. He is an engaged, thoughtful, and creative leader, founding many enrichment programs rooted in transformation, redemption, and self-accountability. Ronald attended Eastern Michigan University, Mott Community College, and Jackson Community College.
M.B.A.Advisory Committee MemberFreeWorldLos Angeles, CA
At the age of 15, Jason Wang was given a 12-year sentence at a maximum security prison in Texas. Upon release he earned two master’s degrees and was still unable to find a job due to his criminal history. Jason decided to become an agent for change. He started FreeWorld. FreeWorld empowers people who have been in prison with educational support and technical skills to enter into high wage, high demand careers so they can live fulfilling lives, prison free. FreeWorld aims to break the cycle of recidivism and generational poverty by demonstrating the potential of reentering citizens creating meaningful career pathways and providing critical support services for the individuals and their families to overcome significant barriers.