Having a family member go to prison is life changing and often times when it happens loved ones are caught off guard. How could this be happening to your family member? How will this affect how others perceive you and your family? This can be an insular struggle because of the fear that ensues around sharing this experience with others. You may be feeling sad, depressed, isolated and that no one else understands. I’ve been there…
On a hot summer day, my life changed with the simple “Ding Dong” of a doorbell at my family’s home. I answered to find the Feds looking for my father. It was this life-altering experience of watching my own father come under a criminal investigation and eventually go to prison that sparked my passion of working with at-risk youth, mainly children with incarcerated parents. I am currently working on telling this story in my first book On The Rocks. Blending my voice and my father’s, On The Rocks is the story of my personal struggle during his investigation and sentencing, and a look back on how it happened.
I have been a prominent voice in the Social Justice community, in California, New York and New Jersey. I previously hosted the radio show Scales of Justice, which had over 10,000 listeners, and am a well-regarded blogger. My personal and professional work has lead me to become one of the nation’s experts on children of the incarcerated. I have been featured in a documentary, quoted in newspapers including the L.A. Times, magazines and a text book and has been the guest on radio shows. I have also co-authored academic articles concerning the topic of incarceration and have been a panelist at conferences relating to children with incarcerated parents.
Before relocating to the NYC area, I served as the Director of Get On The Bus, a California-based program that unites children with the parents in prison once a year for a special Mother’s/Father’s Day visit. I credit Get On The Bus for helping me to find my voice. I believed so strongly in this organization that in addition to working for Get On The Bus, my husband and I volunteered organizing a bus in the L.A. area for two years. In 2010, I ran the L.A. Marathon and blogged about my training experience. My blog fund-raised close to $10,000 for the organization.
In addition to my experience at Get On The Bus, I have worked for the Osborne Association in Brooklyn, NY and New York University doing prison-related research. Prior to a state budget cut which eliminated the program, I also worked for Hour Children in Long Island City as the Nursery Director at Taconic Women’s Prison. At the nursery, incarcerated women lived with their babies taking parenting classes in preparation for their releases. I formerly co-hosted a once a month radio show on the Scales of Justice on L.A. Talk Radio and Blog Talk Radio called “Heart to Heart.”
In addition to authoring my first book, I currently am a Grant Writing Consultant for St. Paul’s After School Program, which works with marginalized children in Paterson, NJ in grades 2-5. The purpose of the program is not only to increase academic skills, but to offer children enriching experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
I am a native of Pittsburgh, PA holding a Bachelor’s Degree from Syracuse University in New York and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Pepperdine University. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband Joe and my two furry children: Figaro the cat and Maya the dog. I also enjoy hiking,running and making the impossible possible. I am an avid cook. My husband and I also continue to volunteer our time making meals for St. Paul’s Men’s Shelter and as the leaders of St. Paul’s J2A (Journey to Adulthood) youth group.