TEAM & ADVISORY BOARD - The Taifa Group, LLC

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Meet The Team

NKECHI TAIFA, Esq

Founding Principal & CEO

Nkechi Taifa is founder and principal of The Taifa Group, LLC. She convenes and directs the Justice Roundtable, an advocacy coalition advancing progressive justice system reform, and serves as Senior Fellow for the Center for Justice at Columbia University. She was recently appointed to the board of the Corrections Information Council, which provides oversight over District residents imprisoned throughout the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Taifa served as Advocacy Director for Criminal Justice at the Open Society Foundations and Open Society Policy Center for 16 years, focusing on federal sentencing reform, law enforcement accountability, prison reform, reentry, executive clemency, and racial justice. 

Over the course of her career she has also served as legislative and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Women’s Legal Defense Fund; founding director of Howard University School of Law’s award-winning Equal Justice Program; staff attorney for the National Prison Project; Office Manager and Network Organizer for the Washington Office on Africa; and as an elementary school teacher at NationHouse Watoto School.  Taifa has spoken extensively across the country on justice reform and human rights issues, and has testified before the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the Council of the District of Colombia and the American Bar Association Justice Kennedy Commission. She has served on the boards of numerous organizations, as consultant to various groups and projects, and as an appointed commissioner and chair of the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights. 

A native Washingtonian, Nkechi Taifa received her Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and graduated magna cum laude from Howard University. 

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Angelyn C. Frazer has over 25 years’ experience in community organizing, policy analysis and advocacy on civil and human rights issues and criminal justice. She is currently the Network Manager for the National Network for Justice (NNJ) a membership-led organization established to support and strengthen the work of state-based criminal justice reform groups seeking to end over-criminalization and mass incarceration. She is responsible for managing and developing the Network’s membership base, programming, and trainings.

Prior to her position at NNJ, Angelyn was the Director of State Legislative Affairs and Special Projects for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). She was responsible for the development, articulation, and strategic vision of NACDL’s agenda on the state level. She also coordinated NACDL’s Annual State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) a policy conference geared toward criminal justice advocates on the state level. Angelyn is formerly the Deputy Director of State Legislative Affairs for Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), where she helped direct and organize state campaigns seeking an end to mandatory minimum sentencing policies.  

Angelyn is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York with a degree in Fashion Buying and Merchandising; she holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies from the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington; studied Spanish at the Universidad De Guadalajara in Jalisco, México; and received her Paralegal Certificate from Delaware State University. She is a proud Afro-Latina who has traveled to Italy, Portugal, Cuba, Greece, the Caribbean and Honduras the birth place of her parents. She is also a licensed instructor of Zumba®, Zumba Gold®, Zumba Sentao™ and Aqua Zumba®.

Strategic Initiatives Coordinator

ANGELYN FRAZER-GILES
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Oforiwa Idawa pursued a Master’s in Business Administration degree from the Strayer University, with a concentration in marketing She received her BA in Black/Africana Studies from City University of New York. Oforiwa is passionate and deeply interested in  cultural community organizing. As a website designer/consultant and social media manager, for over ten years, she discovered that she found the greatest joy working with clients who are committed to positively addressing issues that impacts our community. She loves being a part of contributing to a cause that uplifts our community, using her skills to help make a difference.

 

Throughout the years, as a community activist, she has worked with several national organizations committed to the changing , uplifting and empowering disenfranchised communities.

OFORIWA IDAWA

Personal Communications Assistant

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Willie “Yao” Brewer is a DCTV award winning film-maker who produces short, original community-based documentaries that capture riveting reality stories. He is a multi-talented “one-man band.” Born and raised in Southwest, Washington, D.C., Yao is a Howard University graduate with degrees in Music Education at the Masters and Bachelor levels.

 

He began his documentary film-making career twenty-five years after working as an instrumental music teacher in the DC Public Schools. The digital information age is making it possible for documentary film-makers to use more creativity and technologies to enhance comprehensive stories.

 

With Yao’s work, the entire viewing public becomes an eyewitness or primary resource as he documents stories that encourage positive and uplifting perspectives. 

Documentary Producer

YAO BREWER
RHOZIER "ROACH" BROWN

Field Outreach Coordinator

While serving a life sentence for murder in Washington, DC’s Lorton Reformatory, Roach Brown conceived and founded THE INNER VOICES, a national traveling prison theatrical troupe, wrote and directed several award winning plays, a television documentary and specials. The Inner Voices performed outside the gates of Lorton over 1,500 times without an escape or incident. Roach Brown designed a drug exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum for the White House. He was invited by Members of Congress to testify on national legislation. He designed a drug prevention program for the Embassy of Ghana. He has won acclaim at New York, Sundance, Cannes and International Film Festivals; has designed and implemented correctional programs and developed prison therapeutic theater troupes. Because of this work with the Inner Voices, President Gerald Ford commuted Roach’s life sentence, on Christmas day, 1975, to immediate parole.

 

A community activist extraordinaire, Roach Brown’s aggressive legislative organizing includes increased voter awareness and registration for returning citizens, support of ban the box campaigns, repeal of federal mandatory minimum sentences, fair hiring standards for returning citizens.

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LaTonya Tate is founder and executive director of the Alabama Justice Initiative, an organization whose mission is to help people who face post-incarceration issues after being released from jails, prison, and the courts, to transition back into society. She knew first hand the difficulty of reentry, as her recently released son from 20 years of imprisonment suffered post-incarceration issues after release on parole.

 

LaTonya also witnessed first hand epidemics of substance abuse, probation violations and parole revocations, as well as disparate issues among those placed on community supervision, while working in the field for nearly a decade as a Probation and Parole Office.

 

LaTonya is a 2018 Soros Justice Fellowship recipient, exploring the broken and arbitrary probation and parole systems in Alabama and Florida.

LATONYA TATE

Field Outreach Coordinator

CARMEN CRUSOE

Research Coordinator

& Digital Content Intern

Carmen Crusoe is an Africana Studies and Political Science major at Howard University. She is a member of the inaugural class of the H.U. Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, which is a prestigious and rigorous program that prepares and supports undergraduate students of color who seek to earn their PhD and pursue professorship in humanistic disciplines. Carmen is a 2017-2018 Frederick Douglass Global Fellow to Cape Town, South Africa where she is an advocate for increasing the participation of underrepresented students in international educational experiences like study abroad.

 

Carmen is very passionate about research and has completed and participated in several research projects throughout her undergraduate career. In 2017,

 

Carmen was a research assistant working on criminal justice reform at the Open Society Foundations, D.C. office. She is a skilled writer, poet, and spoken word artist, and an advocate for and active participant in academic activism, political engagement, and global leadership and citizenship.

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Mariama Taifa-Seitu recently received her Master’s degree from the School of Public Engagement at the New School, specializing in international affairs with a concentration in economic development. She received her BA in Journalism from Temple University’s School of Media and Communications. A spirited and dynamic young woman, Mariama is profoundly interested in global and local organizing. Her graduate thesis research focused on how institutional racism deprives communities of the opportunities for expanding human capabilities in the U.S., such as a right to life, education, and political participation. This research used the framework of the Program of Activities of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent.

 

A visual and digital artist, Mariama studied under the tutelage of renowned photojournalist Peter Turnley. She has volunteered with the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) and its 26th and 27th US-Cuba Caravan; the Alliance of Families for Justice; and the Justice Roundtable. 

MARIAMA TAIFA-SEITU

Ida B. Wells Fellow

Advisory Board Members

JESSELYN MCCURDY, Advisory Board Chair.j

Jesselyn McCurdy

Advisory Board Chair

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Wade Henderson

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Jason Hernandez

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Pamela Kennebrew

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Gara LaMarche

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Rukia Lumumba

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Laura Murphy

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Mark Osler

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Cynthia Roseberry

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Malaika Saada Saar