Founder and Executive Director, Californians for Safety and Justice & Founder and President, Alliance for Safety and Justice
Lenore is an attorney with extensive experience working to improve our criminal justice system. She is a regular commentator in the media and at events about challenges within our prison and justice system and the smart justice policies and practices that can overcome those challenges.
Lenore was also coauthor and campaign chair of Proposition 47, a California ballot initiative passed by voters in November 2014 that is projected to reduce incarceration and reallocate those savings into mental health, drug treatment, K-12 programs and victim services.
Before launching Californians for Safety and Justice, Lenore was Chief of Policy and Chief of the Alternative Programs Division at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, where she spearheaded initiatives to reduce recidivism and improve public safety. She also crafted local and state legislation to aid victims of domestic violence, protect violent crime witnesses, reduce elementary school truancy and reduce recidivism among people convicted of nonviolent crimes.
Lenore also served as Director of Public Safety for the Oakland Mayor, overseeing the Mayor’s violence-reduction and police recruitment initiatives, and as Director of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. There she oversaw $10 million in violence-prevention grants, advised the Mayor on public safety matters, and launched a citywide gun buy-back program, Community Policing Task Force and Juvenile Justice Task Force.
Previously, Lenore served as the Director of the Books Not Bars campaign at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which contributed to significant declines in youth incarceration in California, and as an adjunct professor of juvenile justice at the University of San Francisco. She also cofounded the Center for Youth Wellness, an initiative to reduce the health impacts of chronic stress and trauma on urban youth.
Lenore is on the Advisory Board of the Innovations in Prosecution initiative by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law and a B.A. from UC Berkeley, and lives with her family in Oakland.
Local Safety Solutions Project Director
As the Local Safety Solutions Project Director, Marisa works with systems and community leaders across California to advance the Blueprint for Shared Safety, a framework of principles and practices that local leaders can use to advance shared safety strategies. By shifting the focus from over-incarceration to investments that focus on balanced approaches to safety rooted in dignity and smart justice, and that can truly make our communities safer, the Shared Safety framework aims to re-envision public safety altogether.
Marisa joined Californians for Safety and Justice in August 2015, returning to California after spending more than five years working on public safety and criminal justice issues in New Orleans. There she was the Program Manager of the Group Violence Reduction Strategy, one of the Mayor’s core initiatives to reduce homicides. As part of the strategy to reduce gang violence in New Orleans, she developed partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as the City’s Health Department, local service providers and community members.
Prior to that, Marisa served as Senior Program Associate for the Vera Institute of Justice (in New Orleans), where she developed local reform initiatives in partnership with criminal justice agencies, policymakers and community organizations. This included launching New Orleans’s first Pretrial Services program and working to develop incarceration alternatives for nonviolent, low-level offenses.
Before her time in New Orleans, Marisa spent three years as Legislative & Policy Analyst to Oakland City Councilmember Nancy Nadel, where she researched, wrote and advanced local policies and programs on adult literacy, job development, public safety, affordable housing and more. She was also an Equal Justice Litigation Fellow at The Impact Fund in Berkeley, working with Spanish-speaking clients and witnesses on employment discrimination cases.
Marisa received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, and her B.A. in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. She lives in Los Angeles.
Director of Government Relations
John has spent his entire career in public service, with a special focus on people experiencing homelessness, displacement and stigmatization due to mental health or criminal history. As director of government relations, John is responsible for crafting and advocating for Safe and Just’s legislative agenda in the California Capitol.
Previously, John spent two years as Policy Director at Housing California, focusing on state budget programs and legislation addressing homelessness. He was instrumental in the creation of the CalWORKs Housing Support Program that provides housing resources to homeless families with children working toward self-sufficiency through the state’s job-skills training program. He has also successfully sponsored over a half dozen pieces of legislation that have removed barriers to jobs and housing for Californians experiencing homelessness (e.g., making state-issued ID, birth records and educational exams free to people working to overcome homelessness).
Before Housing California, John spent nearly seven years as a legal aid attorney in Chicago, working primarily as a jury trial attorney to defend tenants of the Chicago Housing Authority. Prior to practicing law, John was a humanitarian relief worker in East Africa and a disaster relief director for the American Red Cross in the U.S.
John received his B.A in Government and Psychology from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. from Boston College Law School. He lives with his partner in Emeryville, where he is the city’s Vice Mayor.
Anna Cho Fenley
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice Project Director
Anna is the Director of Crime Survivors for Safety & Justice for Californians for Safety & Justice. She leads the crime survivor program for California, working in partnership, with the Founder’s Circle and statewide chapters, to advocate for more investments in prevention and trauma recovery over more investments in prisons and punishment.
Anna began her career as a social worker and youth justice advocate. Her experience working with young people and their families is what drove her to work in policy. Anna joined CSJ after serving as the Policy Director of The Anti-Recidivism Coalition, where she managed local and statewide relationships, provided policy trainings to ARC members, and helped pass three major pieces of legislation that encourage lawmakers to consider a young person’s age when they commit a crime as it relates to sentencing, parole eligibility and more. Prior to ARC, she served a year in the office of State Senator Carol Liu where she developed a veteran intern program for legislative offices and worked on issues such as homelessness, juvenile justice reform, human trafficking, and women’s health.
Anna graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master’s in Social Work. She lives in Los Angeles.
Kenny began his career interning at Youth Radio in downtown Oakland where he delved into the worlds of journalism and digital media. He also hosted a radio show and served as a music production peer teacher. His passion for social justice is what led him to become a Strategist and Communications Consultant with Wonder: Strategies for Good and the MDC Consulting Network. While there he implemented digital strategy for the “A Good Hire” campaign using LinkedIn to reach HR directors with selected content to shift negative sentiments around hiring people with records in Alameda County. The goal of the clients, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the National Employment Law Center, was to get Alameda County businesses to hire more people with convictions or arrests on their records.
Kenny led the research efforts for multiple clients and also developed and led digital media strategy including social media strategy, website management, and e-newsletter direction. He earned his B.A of Communications from San Francisco State University.
Alex M. Johnson
Alex M. Johnson is the Managing Director for Californians for Safety and Justice. He leads the implementation of the organization’s overall strategy and goals to advance best practices in criminal justice; build coalitions with diverse stakeholders; engage in high-impact communications; and elevate the voices of diverse crime survivors in the debate on public safety policy.
Prior to joining Californians for Safety and Justice, Alex served as Executive Director for the Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA). He led the organizations statewide advocacy, policy, program and organizing efforts to ensure access to quality affordable health coverage and care for children and low income families, reforming the juvenile justice system, promoting educational equity, and ending child poverty. During his tenure the organization grew significantly and deepened its impact within the state. Alex served as Assistant Senior Deputy for Education and Public Safety to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. He worked with school instructional leaders in the New York City Department of Education prior to returning to Los Angeles County. Alex began his career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx, New York where he advocated for victims of domestic violence.
Alex is a graduate of Morehouse College and earned his Juris Doctor from American University, Washington College of Law.
He is Vice-President of the Los Angeles County Board of Education, and serves on the California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board, the Board of Directors for the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN), the National Advisory Committee for the Creative Youth Development National Partnership, and the Wiley Center for Speech and Language Development.
He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and his articles covering a wide-range of topics have appeared in La Opinion, Los Angeles Daily News, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, Youth Today, Los Angeles Wave, LA Focus, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, the California Health Report and other publications.
Second Chances Project Director
Jay Jordan has worked at the intersection of social justice and politics throughout his career. During his tenure at LA Voice PICO, Jay was instrumental in recruiting and training churches in the South Los Angeles area. He served as one of the lead organizers for the Campaign to Ban the Box for the city of Los Angeles and co-founded Faith in Action, a group of crime survivors in the Westmont area of Los Angeles working to transform their community by employing an asset based community development strategy.
As Special Projects Manager for the California Applications Research Group in Stockton, California, Jay spearheaded the launch of the widely successful anti- graffiti mobile app, Clean Up Stockton. He also established a first class call center that was instrumental in victories on several political and social campaigns across the west coast.
Jay was compelled to create his own non-profit that focused on teen diversion and civic engagement because of his experience as a troubled youth who served time in prison. With the help of Stockton City Councilman Michael Tubbs, law enforcement, and several other allies, Jay launched the innovative youth organizing program, The First50 which in its first year saw both 100% high school graduation and college enrollment. He has been recognized over 20 times for his organizing talents including the American Red Cross’ 2014 Hero of the Year, the Literacy Foundations’ Innovative Library Concept Award, and a Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Youth Program.
In addition, Jay served as co-chair of San Joaquin County’s Boys and Men of Color Alliance Juvenile Justice Committee and was a Board member for the African-American Chamber of Commerce of San Joaquin. He made history by becoming the first and only formerly incarcerated Field Director for Congressman Jerry McNerney’s successful reelection campaign.
Christine has a range of experience in the legal, policy, and software sectors primarily conducting research and analysis. She joined our team following work as a Criminal Defense Litigation Paralegal at Arguedas, Cassman, & Headley LLP where she handled a breadth of cases, including a criminal case related to online pharmacy drug shipments. Prior to her litigation experience, she conducted research on early childhood issues, at Next Generation, to promote public awareness and improve policies that affect children and families. She also worked at Google Inc., where she independently designed and conducted qualitative research to assess the usage of Google’s search engine in Sub-Saharan Africa.
A critical thinker, Christine thrives in examining issues and working on complex theories to solve problems. She values social equity and justice and is dedicated to using factual knowledge to inform decisions affecting those vulnerable in society.
Christine graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Psychology focused on Health and Development. She currently lives in Berkeley.
Public Affairs Manager
Will Matthews began his career an award-winning investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, where he documented governmental corruption in San Bernardino County and investigated the financial dealings of prominent southern California medical school leaders, leading to an investigation by the state Attorney General.
He then served as a senior media relations associate for the American Civil Liberties Union in New York City, where he helped launch the organization’s national campaign to end over-incarceration. Will later served as the Senior Communications Officer for the ACLU of Northern California, where he directed the strategic communications component of a statewide campaign to reform California’s criminal justice system.
He is a graduate of Chapman University in Orange, California, and he received a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Xochitl (Zoe) provides Administrative support for Californians for Safety and Justice’s staff. Zoe has fifteen years experience in administrative support and data analysis. Zoe’s background includes working for public, charter and private schools. While at the Oakland Unified School District, Zoe was an Administrative Assistant and Wellness Coordinator. Zoe worked at a dual immersion school in the Fruitvale where one of her accomplishments was being featured in Kaiser Permanente’s Thrive Magazine in an article called “Partnering with Parents Creates a Healthy School Food Culture at Manzanita Elementary”. Zoe has also done contract work for various schools in the Bay Area, assisting with state compliance requirements.
Zoe’s relationship with Californians for Safety and Justice began when she was a participant at the Survivors Speak Conference in April 2015. Zoe’s volunteer efforts include being a Director & Technology Chair for Vallejo Charter School 2007-2008 and is one of the original members of the annual Manzanita Campus Health Fair’s planning team 2010-2014.
Danny Montes is the Alliance Director for California for Safety and Justice. He manages the organization’s key partnerships and coalition work throughout California. Danny brings over 12 years of local, state and national campaign experience and currently provides strategic input on all of CSJ’s projects and campaigns. Based in Los Angeles, Danny frequently presents on issues such as the impact of crime in immigrant communities, Proposition 47, and strategic campaign development.
Previously, he was the Civic Engagement Strategist for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization. There, Danny worked with NCLR’s 62 California affiliated nonprofits to increase their capacity, civic engagement and advocacy efforts on issues such as criminal justice, health, housing, immigration and workforce development. Danny also worked with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington, D.C., to build investment and advocate for job creation legislation.
Danny is a seasoned trainer in organizing and legislative advocacy, starting in 2007 in partnership with the Midwest Academy, Wellstone Action, United States Student Association, and Young People For. He is also a former Public Policy Fellow for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Director of Communications
Stephanie is a communications professional with over twenty years of experience working for nonprofit organizations, electoral campaigns, and government agencies. As the Director of Communications, Stephanie drives the organization’s messaging and communications to promote smart justice strategies that increase safety and reduce costs.
Prior to joining Californians for Safety and Justice, Stephanie was the Director of Communications and Marketing for the Center for Youth Wellness where she developed the organization’s communications department from the ground up. For three years, she served as Director of Communications for San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. In this position, she ran a high volume press operation, managed media relations on high profile cases, and executed media strategies on issues such as criminal justice reform, immigration reform, and alternative sentencing.
For ten years, Stephanie was co-founder and principal of a political consulting and public relations firm where she ran candidate, issue driven, and media campaigns that focused on the needs of children, families, and marginalized populations. She previously served on the Board of Directors of Chinese for Affirmative Action, Emerge California and is one of the founders of PowerPAC.org.
Stephanie received a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Asian American Studies from San Francisco State University. She lives in San Francisco with her family.
Organizing Director & Vice President, Alliance for Safety and Justice
Robert provides leadership for key programs and partners of Californians for Safety and Justice, including our Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and Criminal Justice Advocacy networks, our work with organized labor and more.
Robert joined Safe and Just after three years with the NAACP, where he served as both National Criminal Justice Director and Executive Director of the California State Conference. As National Criminal Justice Director, Robert was the founding director of the program and provided strategic direction, oversight and management of criminal justice activities. He was responsible for launching the “Misplaced Priorities – Educate Not Incarcerate” campaign, where he worked with Right on Crime to recruit conservatives to join NAACP’s efforts to reduce state prison populations and reallocate dollars to education.
Prior to NAACP, Robert was a national criminal justice reform expert and labor organizer working on sentencing reform and green jobs. Robert has served in senior leadership roles at A Better Way Foundation (in Connecticut), Justice Strategies and the Institute for Community Research. For several years, Robert was a grant reviewer for California HIV/AIDS Research Programs. Robert also worked with the strategic research program at Change To Win labor federation to organize workers in emerging green industries.
Robert has served as an adjunct professor teaching social movement theory and research methods at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and St. Joseph’s College, and at Central Connecticut State University. Robert lives in Sacramento with his wife and three sons.
Caroline oversees operations for Californians for Safety and Justice, bringing 10 years of finance, administration, human resources and technology experience. Previously she worked at Fenton, a public interest communications firm, managing their San Francisco and Los Angeles operations while providing additional expertise to the firm’s New York and Washington, D.C., offices. This included contract negotiations, budgets and reporting requirements for many of the firms largest nonprofit and foundation clients, including The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation and First Five LA. With an interest in creating a positive, inspiring office culture, Caroline does her best to insert some playfulness into the hard work of social change organizations.
She has a BA in Politics from Saint Mary’s College and currently lives in Oakland, hoping to one day swim in Lake Merritt.
Executive & Administrative Assistant
Elizabeth (Liz) supports Californians for Safety and Justice’s Executive Director, staff and various programmatic work. Previously, Liz provided administrative support for nearly two years at the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), a nonprofit legal clinic that provides free legal services for East Bay residents. While at EBCLC, Liz also served as a temporary Executive Assistant, Spanish interpreter and Legal Assistant for immigration attorneys. She gained a passion for social justice advocacy through her participation in Project WHAT!, a youth group that makes presentations in universities, jails and prisons throughout California about the impact on children when a parent is incarcerated.
Liz received a B.A. in Criminal Justice from San Francisco State University and currently resides in Richmond with her family.
Senior Consultant, Local Safety Solutions Project
Elizabeth consults on our Local Safety Solutions Project, which provides city and county officials with best practices, training and tools to implement smart justice policies that improve safety and reduce costs.
Previously, Elizabeth spent almost 10 years as an executive with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). As Assistant Secretary of Juvenile Justice Policy at CDCR, she coordinated and drafted many of the major reforms for California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (formerly the California Youth Authority). More recently, as CDCR’s Chief Deputy Secretary and Director of Rehabilitative Programs, Elizabeth oversaw the education, substance abuse treatment and rehabilitative programs for the state’s 33 adult prisons and statewide parole offices.
Elizabeth and her team implemented over $250 million in budget reductions using evidence-based decision-making, and she drafted the state’s plan to reinvest in rehabilitative programs as part of CDCR’s 2012 Blueprint (ultimately adopted and funded by the Legislature). Elizabeth has also worked with the California Legislature, for the Office of the Inspector General, and with several nonprofits, including as the Executive Director of City Youth Now (located in San Francisco’s Youth Guidance Center).
Elizabeth has a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She and her son live in Sacramento.
Selena oversees research for Californians for Safety and Justice. Before joining the organization, she served as a Policy Analyst for the California Budget & Policy Center in Sacramento, where she analyzed criminal and juvenile justice funding policies to promote safer communities and smarter choices about the allocation of corrections dollars. Prior to that, Selena was a Communications and Policy Analyst for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, where she worked on various public safety issues, including the prosecution of youth in adult criminal court, racial disparities in the local enforcement of drug laws, and community-based alternatives to incarceration for youth and adults.
Selena holds a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and received a B.A. in English and American literature from the University of Manchester in England. She currently lives in San Francisco.
Annie has broad experience in nonprofit fundraising and project management and has been working in the field of criminal justice reform since 2014. As Development Manager, she leads the organization’s fundraising efforts and oversees philanthropic relationships. Annie previously served as the Director of Development at JustLeadershipUSA, where she worked closely with the founder to help launch the organization, grow its funding portfolio, and implement its nationwide “Leading with Conviction” training program for formerly incarcerated advocates. Annie also worked as Coordinator at the Freelancers Union and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Union Settlement Association, a nonprofit that brings holistic programming to East Harlem residents.
She has consulted with several nonprofit organizations as a grant writer and development strategist. Annie received a B.A. and B.S. from the University of Vermont. She lives in San Francisco.