Academic Partners

Professor Baz Dreisinger
Academic Director, Prison-to-College Pipeline
Dr. Dreisinger is an associate professor at John Jay College and serves as the academic director for the Prison-to-College Pipeline Professor Dreisinger earned her Ph.D. in English from Columbia University, where she specialized in American and African-American studies. Her book Near Black: White to Black Passing in American Culture (University of Massachusetts Press, 2008) was featured in the New York Times Book Review and on National Public Radio. Professor Dreisinger also moonlights as a journalist and critic, writing about Caribbean culture, race-related issues, music and pop culture for the New York TimesLos Angeles TimesVillage Voice and Wall Street Journal, among other outlets; she regularly writes and produces on-air segments for National Public Radio. Together with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Peter Spirer, Professor Dreisinger produced and wrote the documentaries Black & Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop, which investigates the New York Police Department’s monitoring of the hip-hop industry, and Rhyme & Punishment, about hip-hop and the prison industrial complex. Professor Dreisinger’s new book Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World has been received with critical acclaim.

Assistant Professor Nicole Elias
Faculty Partner, David Rockefeller Fund Fellowship
Nicole M. Elias is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY and co-founder of Women in the Public Sector at John Jay College. Dr. Elias earned her MPA and Ph.D. in Public Administration and Affairs from the Center for Public Administration and Policy at Virginia Tech. While at Virginia Tech, she also received the Women’s and Gender Studies Graduate Certificate and served as managing editor of Administration & Society for three years. Dr. Elias teaches courses on human resources management, public administration theory, organizational theory, and public policy. Her research explores public representation and participation, and technology and governance with a particular focus on sex, gender, and race. Dr. Elias regularly works with practitioners at the federal level. She was a Research Fellow at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office and served as the Lead Faculty Adviser to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management on the 2016 Government-wide Inclusive Diversity Strategic Plan. Her recent work appears in Public Integrity and Public Administration Quarterly. She is the co-editor of a symposium on the future of women in public administration appearing in Administration & Society.

Assistant Professor Leigh Graham
Co-Director, Tow Policy Advocacy Fellowship
Leigh T. Graham, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and in Environmental Psychology at The CUNY Graduate Center.  Her research focuses on the contentious politics of urban redevelopment, especially after disasters and in periods of crisis.  Leigh has recently published on comparative community resilience after Sandy on the Lower East Side and Rockaway, featured in Global Environmental Change.  Her analysis of the struggle to preserve public housing in post-Katrina New Orleans is published in the Journal of the American Planning Association and Housing Policy Debate.  Leigh has served as a consultant to foundations, non-profits and the public sector on urban revitalization and affordable housing, most recently to MassDevelopment, Massachusetts’ real estate and finance agency.

Dr. Alana J. Gunn
Faculty Partner
Dr. Gunn is an Assistant Professor in the SUNY Binghamton School of Social Work. Her work with PRI involves research on the life histories of some of the first students in the Prison-to-College Pipeline (P2CP) program. Dr. Gunn received her BA from Vassar College and her MPP, AM and PhD from the University of Chicago. Before joining the SUNY Binghamton School of Social Work, Dr. Gunn was a National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded post-doctoral fellow at the National Development and Research Institutes in New York City. Dr. Gunn has extensive experience working with incarcerated individuals in jails and under correctional community-based supervision, and with agencies charged with supporting the re-entry process. Her research focuses on how multi-level experiences of stigmatization shape the health and well-being of women with histories of incarceration and substance use. Her current projects range from grandparents’ perceptions of stigma attached to raising children with criminal justice and substance use-involved parents, the design and implementation of trauma-sensitive programming targeting the needs of affected family members, and ethics-related implications for engaging women with past criminal justice involvement in research. Dr. Gunn recently received a two year training grant through the Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) at Fordham University.

Distinguished Lecturer Martin Horn
Convener, Colloquium on Solitary Confinement
Martin F. Horn is Distinguished Lecturer in Corrections at the John Jay College, City University of New York and serves as Executive Director of the New York State Sentencing Commission by appointment of the Chief Judge of the State of New York. Horn is also a Managing Director of KeyPoint Government Solutions, Inc. He was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation, effective Jan. 1, 2002. A year later Mayor Bloomberg appointed him to simultaneously serve as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction, the City’s jail system, and he held both positions simultaneously until July 31, 2009. Horn previously served from March 1995 until January 2000 as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections. He has served as co-chair of the American Bar Association Corrections Committee and has chaired the policy and resolutions committees of both the American Correctional Association and the Association of State Corrections Administrators. He is a Commissioner of the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections and a member of the Advisory Board of the New York State Commission on Quality of Care for Persons with Disabilities established by the State’s SHU Exclusion Law.

Dr. Laurie Leitch
Co-Creator, Social Resilience Model
Dr. Leitch has been a practicing psychotherapist, clinical trainer, consultant, and researcher for over 25 years. She is Director of Threshold GlobalWorks, dedicated to cultivating the social dimension of resilience in individuals and within communities, enterprises, and systems. Committed to promoting principled behavior, collaboration, and safety in the workplace and communities, Leitch’s organization, Threshold GlobalWorks, has developed a neuroscience-based curriculum, Social Resilience Model (SRM) for building social resilience at the individual and system’s levels. The curriculum includes a practical set of self-regulation skills, which can be used peer-to-peer, for individual self-care, and by clinicians. The curriculum has been used in military, medical, educational, corrections, and corporate settings nationally and internationally to promote self-regulation as well as positive and generative relationships among individuals and across disciplines.

Professor Karin Martin
Co-Director, Tow Public Advocacy Fellowship (on scholarly leave Spring 2015-Fall 2016)

Dr. Martin is a professor in John Jay’s Department of Public Management. She studied Psychology at Stanford University and worked in a variety of non-profit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area before attending University of California, Berkeley where she earned an MPP, an MA in Political Science, and a PhD in Public Policy. She was a post-doctoral scholar in the Psychology Department at UCLA where she was also a Fellow with the Consortium for Policing Equity. She has been a Fellow at the Center for Research on Social Change at UC Berkeley, a Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies Fellow, and a National Science Foundation-funded Fellow in the Integrated Graduate Education Research and Training (IGERT) Program in Politics, Economics, Psychology, and Public Policy. Dr. Martin was a RAND Summer Associate in 2009.

Elizabeth Powers
Faculty Partner, Pinkerton Graduate Community Fellowship
Elizabeth Powers is the Director of Youth Justice at the Children’s Defense Fund – New York (CDF-NY) where she oversees the education justice and youth justice policy portfolios.  Prior to CDF-NY, she worked at The Legal Aid Society as a forensic social worker alongside attorneys representing children in New York City’s Family Court in both Brooklyn and the Bronx. As part of Legal Aid’s Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit she contributed to class action law suits on behalf of children in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice systems.  Ms. Powers earned her Master’s in Social Work degree from Fordham University in 2008, specializing in research. She completed her Master’s thesis as an intern for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, analyzing a pilot mental health treatment modality for inmates held in punitive segregation at Rikers Island.  She previously instructed a course on Forensic Social Work Practice at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service.  She serves on the Board of Directors of Literacy for Incarcerated Teens, a non-profit dedicated to increasing access to literacy resources for detained youth.

Robert Riggs
Project Director, Three Quarter House Project
Robert joined PRI in 2012 as a Project Director, leading research on the form of transitional housing known as three quarter houses. Robert is currently a doctoral candidate in Sociology at NYU, investigating the ways that individuals reintegrate into society through social networks, and how network inequality can influence prison-to-community transitions. He previously worked as Research and Reentry Associate at the Bard Prison Initiative, and as Research Assistant for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Project. Robert graduated summa cum laude with a BA from CUNY and holds a Master’s degree from NYU. He previously served a fellowship at the Vera Institute of Justice and is currently a MacCracken Fellow at NYU and a Graduate Research Fellow at the National Science Foundation.

Professor Gregory (“Fritz”) Umbach
Faculty Partner, Work Group on NYCHA Permanent Exclusions

Dr. Umbach is assistant professor of History. He received his PhD in American History from Cornell University, where he was the recipient of the John M. and Emily B. Clark Distinguished Teaching Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching in the College of Arts and Science. He has published in both popular and scholarly journals on a wide variety of topics in American and Global History, including New York’s Chinatown, consumer culture, and police brutality. His book, The Last Neighborhood Cops: The Rise and Fall of Community Police in New York’s Public Housing will be published by Rutgers University Press in late 2009. He has also directed several scholarly archives including Gathered in Time: Utah Quilts and Their Makers: Settlement to 1950; Ground One: Voices from Post-911 Chinatown; and The September 11 Digital Archive, both recently accessioned by the Library of Congress as that institution’s first major digital acquisitions. He also recently served as the historical consultant (and appears in) a documentary on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade by New Yorker Films that accompanies the North American DVD release of Adanggaman, a film by the Ivory Coast director Roger Gnoan M’Bala.

Jessica Devoe Warner
Faculty Partner, Undergraduate Pinkerton Community Fellowship
Jessica Devoe Warner is an activist, advocate, and educator for children’s rights and youth justice. Jessica holds a B.A. in both Sociology and Psychology from Pitzer College, a member of The Claremont Colleges, as well an M.S.W. in Social Welfare and an M.A. in Criminal Justice from the University at Albany. She currently works as Assistant Director of the New York Foundling’s Fontana Center for Child Protection, where she manages the center’s advocacy, public education and professional development initiatives, and Adjunct Faculty at CUNY Hunter’s Silberman School of Social Work and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Jessica also serves as Co-Chair of New York State’s Juvenile Justice Coalition Conditions of Confinement Work Group, and Advocacy Advisor for the Future Child Advocates. She is a steering committee member for Social Workers Against Criminalization of the NASW-NYC and a member of the advocacy council for the Citizen’s Committee for Children. Jessica specializes in systemic issues impacting children who are dually involved with the child welfare and juvenile or criminal justice systems.