Meet Fortune’s New President and CEO

Meet Fortune’s New President and CEO


As of January 1, former Deputy CEO Stanley Richards stepped into his new role as the President and CEO of The Fortune Society. Stanley first joined Fortune over 30 years ago as a reentry counselor. He has since gained a wealth of knowledge and experience that will continue to guide him as he takes on leadership of our organization. 

As our community undergoes this transition, we sat down with Stanley to discuss how he plans to lead the organization, his hopes for the future of Fortune and more.  

This is an incredible step for you; what are your feelings right now during the transition into your new role?  

I am excited about the future of Fortune and the work that lies ahead. I’m excited that we have such powerful leaders in the organization and such dedicated staff, and I think that my selection as the next President and CEO has energized and deepened the commitment of our staff to this work. The future is extremely bright, and I’m putting together a leadership team that will support my vision and build on 56 years of service and advocacy excellence.   

With these recent leadership team updates, how do you hope changes will enhance the Fortune community?  

At every new-hire breakfast, we always say, “Fortune is only as good as it’s people.” The leadership team I am assembling includes  leaders who understand the importance of supporting staff, a culture of innovation, and strengthening Fortune’s community. They are focused on our core values – people have the power to change, people are not the worst thing they have ever done, and our work is centered on seeing the best in people and being part of an organization that works to solve problems. They want to address the inequities in our society regarding public safety, policing and the criminal legal system. I’m excited about unleashing innovation and passion and continuing to build on excellence that we’ve seen throughout our history.   

How has your previous experience helped to prepare you for this new role?  

The work I engaged in over the last 33 years prepared me for this leadership role. Since my release, I have dedicated my life to supporting people impacted by the criminal legal system. I have amazing mentors and have worked with amazing colleagues who all taught me something about this work. The lessons that I think stand out for me are that one must always be willing to learn and grow; and the collective wisdom of the team far outweighs the wisdom and knowledge of one; and diversity of experience, skill, and perspective adds tremendous value. 

I know that, at Fortune, the sum of our parts is greater than any of our individual contributions. I want to leverage our diversity to bring about the transformative change that we need to reduce mass incarceration, improve the conditions of confinement and reduce and eliminate the barriers people face post-incarceration.

My experience and leadership is just one of the elements that make Fortune an amazing organization, and I look forward to leading this work on further developing our diversity and strengthening Fortune’s culture and diversity. 

What are your goals so far for how you want to lead The Fortune Society?

This is a big transition. Our former President and CEO [JoAnne Page] was here for 34 years, and I’ve been affiliated with the organization for over 30 years, but this is still a big transition. Right now, it’s about articulating my approach to this work. I have a three-year platform focusing on people-first leadership, supporting innovation to further develop program excellence to meet the evolving needs of those we serve; leveraging our research capacity and connection to those we serve to elevate our advocacy to address the systemic policy barriers that disproportionately impact Black and Brown people and their family; and expanding our donor base to support our work to expand services, advocacy, and research capacity. Our ultimate goal should be to put ourselves out of business because when we provide people with the tools they need to rebuild their lives and when we remove the systemic barriers to reentry and dismantle mass incarceration, the people we serve will not need us once the system has changed and we nurtured individual strength and sustainability.

How does “people-first leadership” help to strengthen and expand a community?

It’s about listening, engaging and ensuring that people know our door is open. We want people to know that they matter in our space. I was walking around our service site in Long Island City last week, and I met a young man who came to us for our Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) program and was participating in Fortune Fellows, our internship program. He said, “One day, I want to be able to work here at Fortune.” I sat down with him and told him to go to our website to see what jobs are available, and he saw a Coordinator position in our Admissions Department. I told him, “Today, I’m the President and CEO, but when I came to Fortune in 1991, that was my first job. I started here as a counselor.” I saw my journey in him. I know he will follow his own path, but that is what Fortune is about. It’s that amazing, magical place where people find hope and possibility. It’s a place where people don’t judge who you are, what you did, or how much time you served. We only see you for who you want to be. And I want to share that message with the world.

Stepping into this role, have you taken inspiration from past mentors? Either JoAnne or other mentors you’ve met along the way?

Absolutely. I’m defining this moment as building on excellence, but I’m building based on who I am. David Rothenberg built Fortune based on who he is. JoAnne then succeeded and further built Fortune based on who she is. I’m not starting from scratch, but it’s building on the legacy of Fortune and my professional and personal experience. And I go back to what I said at the very beginning.

This is about supporting, nurturing and elevating the people doing this work. We are only as good as those who work here. And we are pretty good as an organization. 

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