As recent events have made all too clear, Americans have centralized the needs of communities, specifically Black neighborhoods, through a lens of the police and law enforcement for far too long. How do we model the future prioritizing community without that lens? The police force is also often the group of “last resort” to step in in the absence of robust community services like mental health resources. How do we better service the needs of communities than how it is structured now? How we could use this moment to pivot to a more equitable justice system? Watch our panelists, who work on the frontlines of community building and criminal justice reform, as they discuss these urgent issues.
Tara Huffman is director of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program at Open Society Institute-Baltimore, where she leads placed-based efforts to reduce mass incarceration in Baltimore and Maryland. Tara has more than 20 years’ experience applying a racial justice lens to create, lead and resource multi-year campaigns at the local, state and federal levels. Prior to joining OSF, Tara provided coaching and consulting services to non-profit leaders and organizations—. Before that, she served for five years as the Deputy Director for Policy and Programs at the Coalition for Juvenile Justice in Washington, D.C., where, among other things,she launched a project to advocate for national standards to reduce incarceration and criminalization of juvenile status offenders. Tara currently serves on the board of Maryland Philanthropy Network. Tara is a graduate of Bowling Green State University and the University of Maryland School of Law.
Marlon Peterson is founder and president of Precedential Group, a social justice consultancy that works to address the trauma revolving around the intersections of race, gender, violence, police violence and community violence. He is the host of the DEcarcerated podcast, which highlights the journeys of resilience, redemption, and success of formerly incarcerated people. Marlon has spearheaded the creation of How Our Lives Link Altogether (H.O.L.L.A!) and Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO SOS) with a focus on gun violence prevention and youth advocacy for hundreds of young people. Marlon is working on his first book, titled: Bird Uncaged: Promise to Sing About Me, with Bold Type Books. He earned a BA in Organizational Behavior & Change from New York University and Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice from Ashworth University. Marlon is a Fellow of the inaugural class of the Civil Society Fellowship, and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Douglas E. Wood is Director of the Aspen Institute’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiative. From 2011-18, he was a program officer at the Ford Foundation on the Youth Opportunity and Learning team and served as Acting Lead of the foundation’s global Higher Education for Social Justice initiative. He also funded a myriad of programmatic grants focused on criminal justice reform at the national, state and local levels. Prior to joining Ford, he was Executive Director and Chief Education Officer of the Tennessee State Board of Education, chair of the Basic Education Program Review Committee, a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, a gubernatorial appointee to the Education Commission of the States, and a Fellow at George Washington University, among many other positions. Doug holds a B.A. degree in History from Wofford College, a MA in English from Middlebury College, and a master’s and doctoral degree from Harvard University.
Ryan Zuidema is Chief of Police for the Lynchburg Police Department in Virginia. In this role, he has made inroads in community relationships with police by collaborating with other civic leaders and seeking to increase accountability for officers. Before becoming Chief of Police, Ryan championed internal process improvements, including annual psychological exams for detectives. He also researched, developed, and implemented the department’s body-worn camera program. Ryan is an adjunct professor in criminal justice at Liberty University. He serves or has served on the board of the Jubilee Family Development Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Virginia, and the Bedford County Public Schools Safety Advisory Team, among many other positions. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from SUNY Brockport and a MBA from Averett University. Ryan is a Fellow of the inaugural class of the Civil Society Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.