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Thursday, April 07, 2022





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Bridging the Digital Divide: Behind the Bars, Beyond Release

Watch our latest conversation on promoting digital equity for the justice involved. As those leaving incarceration return home, digital literacy becomes important for a successful transition. 

The Fortune Society’s Policy Center Collective will host a webinar entitled Bridging the Digital Divide: Behind the Bars, Beyond Release which will bring together a diverse panel of notable experts to explore the many facets of this crucially important topic.


Our panelists:

Dr. Ronald F. Day is a Vice President of Programs and Research at the Fortune Society. Ronald is passionate about reentry, promoting desistance, dismantling mass incarceration and addressing the stigma of incarceration. He provides oversight for Fortune’s Education and Employment Services, and for Individualized Correction Achievement Network (ICAN), a New York City Department of Correction initiative that provides pre and post-release services to people incarcerated in NYC jails. Ronald has been the recipient of several awards, including the Citizens Against Recidivism Bridge Builder Award, and the Justice Research Fellowship.

Sydney Heller started his career as a full-stack web developer in the public sector in 2012. Syd is passionate about the acquisition and pedagogy of both spoken and coding languages. Syd first learned about in-prison programs after volunteering with the Prison Education Project in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Syd’s first position at The Last Mile involved working with the Web Developers at the TLM Works Development Shop. Syd then transitioned into an administrative role outside the classroom environment and currently serves as TLM’s Executive Director. Syd continually draws on his experience as a language learner, self-taught web developer, and day-to-day work with TLM students and in-facility staff to inform his decisions regarding the TLM program, platform and vision.

Jason Jones is a full-time disruptor, activist, educator and software engineer. Jason leads The Last Mile’s conversations with existing and potential partners for TLM’s future with a focus on creating mutually beneficial partnerships that impact TLM’s learners on a high scale. On September 25, 2018, Jason was released after 13 ½ years incarcerated, during which time he graduated from The Last Mile’s inaugural coding class. Three weeks before his release, Jason became the first person from his cohort to sign a work agreement with a tech company as a software engineer. Jason was also the first justice-involved person to be accepted into the Lightspeed fellowship with a team from Stanford. Outside of his work with TLM, he runs his own tech consulting company called Disrupt 2 innov8 LLC (D2i) where he consults companies on integrating MBM and technology to amplify their impact.

Leah Faria (She, Her) is a Black, formerly incarcerated community organizer and mother. She is a survivor of domestic and State violence. Ms. Faria uses her direct experiences as a way to build community and to organize Black and brown women as the organizer at the Women’s Community Justice Association. She is an instrumental leader of the Justice 4 Women Taskforce where she works to amplify the voices and empower women incarcerated at Rikers Island.

Aedan MacDonald is compassionately devoted to extending the opportunities that a Columbia education provided to him after returning home from spending four years incarcerated in federal prison in California for marijuana distribution. Aedan Macdonald, conceptualized, and developed Justice Through Code (JTC) at Columbia University, a free four-month full-stack web development, and professional skills intensive taught at Columbia that provides a pathway to high-wage employment in the tech sector. 

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