Home Our Work 2022-2023 Youth Justice Leadership Institute Fellows

2022-2023 Youth Justice Leadership Institute Fellows

The Youth Justice Leadership Institute is now in its 12th year, and we’re thrilled to introduce our newest cohort of fellows. They come from all over the country and are working on an exciting array of issues in youth justice reform.

Bios and Advocacy Projects

Daniel Sampson | Colorado 
Daniel Sampson is the founder/CEO of Driven By Our Ambitions (DBOA, LLC). He founded DBOA in 2014 to help young adults and student-athletes enhance their opportunities to attain post-secondary education. Sampson has worked closely with Title I schools in Washington, D.C. and the Denver Metro Area to successfully elevate the chances of their student populations entry into college debt free.

In 2017, Sampson expanded DBOA to reach juvenile justice involved youth/young adults with a focus on services that give them pro-social options to decrease recidivism. DBOA currently contracts with the Colorado Division of Youth Services (formerly DYC); Colorado Youth Detention Continuum; Colorado Judicial Districts Adult and Juvenile Probation; and the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Sampson was the Assistant Director of Communications for the Washington Commanders during the 2010-2014 seasons. During his time with the Commanders, Forbes fifth Most Valuable Sports Team in the world, he was responsible for media relations strategies for the team and directed the team’s internal and external communication relating to football business. In 2013, Sampson was recognized as one of the Top 30 under 30 young professionals striving for excellence and making a difference within the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia (DMV) community.

Adovcacy Project Summary:
School to School Pipeline seeks to increase the number of black men in the field of mental health and wellness by exposure, education, and mentoring. To accomplish this, we are developing individual career and academic plans (ICAP) for youth involved in juvenile justice and/or attend alternative high schools with an emphasis in mental health services.

Erika Ovalle | Arizona
Erika Ovalle was raised in Phoenix Arizona and began organizing as a young child. The daughter of immigrants and being the middle child, Erika witnessed a lot of state violence.  Her two older brothers would begin their incarceration stories as youth, and she watched constantly the police harassing and arresting her brother. Tired of the police raiding their home, Erika learned very early on that the only way we could defend ourselves was by learning our rights. Being able to tell police no to searches and illegal raids was very empowering for her and scary at the same time. 

Years later, after witnessing a young person being removed from their car and searched, Erika began informing community members of their rights and organizing youth through walk outs and public art education actions. She also began volunteering in a woman’s state prison and started to think about who else was being affected that was not sitting at the table. It dawned on her that the youth in Arizona had no space and there was no advocacy for them.  Simultaneously the state of Arizona had plans to expand it prison. Erika knew then that she had to build a team to help her stop the expansion. The Arizona youth justice coalition was born a year ago and has expanded to two counties with a strong focus on bringing youth voices to the forefront. Erika feels that this is where she will play the next important role in her life.

Advocacy Project Summary: 
Arizona Youth Justice Coalition is a statewide movement dedicated to decarcerating our youth prisons. This coalition is focused on eliminating court fines and fees as well as closing two juvenile prisons. We want to redirect all monies spent on incarcerating our youth into community based alternatives to keep kids at home and in their communities.

Hanna Williams | Mississippi
Hannah Burnell Williams is a native of Jackson Mississippi. She attended Williams B. Murray High School and later attended Jackson State University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 2016. She spent 8 years as a competitive volleyball player which even earned her a bid to try out for Team USA volleyball right before her high school graduation. Hannah has worked in influencer modeling and promotion and had a 14-year pageant career in the state of Mississippi. Hannah is a graduate student of the Harvard Extension School and currently works as the Policy and Research Analyst at Mississippi Votes, where she leads the voting rights work for pre-trial detainees and citizens behind bars in prison. After receiving a major push back on a nationwide voter registration campaign, the focus shifted from voter registration to political education on the rights of inmates and returning citizens and what we can do to ensure that people in this affected group were not only aware but also being afforded their right to a ballot.

Hanna's activism was implanted in her at birth. She is the daughter of Louwlynn Williams who was the first black female director of the Capitol Post Conviction Council, a state ran agency that assists in death penalty appeals and currently sits as a Lincoln County Municipal Judge. Her grandmother was a moving piece during the Civil Rights Movement and her great uncles were part of the Black Panther Party. Equality and defending the rights of people regardless of situation has developed into a personal passion for her and with her work at MS Votes, she is able to put her passion into motion and help those who have been hidden from the eyes of the state.

Adovcacy Project Summary:
Hanna will lead an awareness campaign against the current condition in youth detention centers in Mississippi.

Kiana Calloway | Louisiana 
Kiana Calloway, is a strong liberated black man, whose purpose is to prevent another Kiana from becoming victimized by the criminal justice system. At 16, Kiana was wrongfully arrested and convicted on 2 capital murder charges, and sentenced to serve 2 life terms in prison. Allowing time to serve him, not serving time is what helped him push past the pain. Twenty-four years later, he is the founding director of Project Detour Mentoring, a core member of various organizations across the country, executive director of Roots of Renewal NOLA Reentry, and as a certified behavioral health technician managing various programs including prison prevention for at-risk youth, job training for people returning home from incarceration.

Kiana currently sits on the Louisiana Task Force for Safe Alternatives to Segregation, while previously resided on the city of New Orleans 2019 Mayors (Inclusion Subcommittee) & 2022 Sheriff's (Community Accountability Subcommittee) transition teams. Kiana is a film director, videographer and content curator who has been leading multiple criminal justice reform campaigns in Louisiana. Kiana hopes to continue to use his camera to educate, organize and mobilize local people whose households are most impacted by mass incarceration, youth deterrence and economic injustice to demand fair access to employment, education,housing and increase awareness of mass incarceration issues in Louisiana politics, and expand the reach of political education on issues and candidates to folks that have been traditionally left out of the conversation and decision-making processes.

Advocacy Project Summary:
The goal of the Impacted Youth Leaders is to support youth activists that want to organize for change. The project will walk youth through the basic steps of developing a strategy, building collective power, and using that power to create meaningful, lasting change. It also addresses important topics like practicing self-care or resolving group conflict on the path toward victory. 

Lisa Maria Rhodes | Louisiana
Lisa Maria Rhodes, LMSW, better known by her students as Señorita Rhodes, is in her 14th year as an educator in New Orleans. A proud Colombian-American graduate of the University of Miami, Lisa Maria formerly taught in Miami as well as Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Lisa Maria serves as the Director of Alumni Mental Health for Collegiate Academies Next, where she has also been a teacher at Abramson Sci Academy in New Orleans East and a social worker at George Washington Carver High School in the Desire neighborhood of New Orleans. With her experience working for Orleans Public Defenders and doing national immigration policy advocacy through the Evangelical Immigration Table and Christian Community Development Association, Lisa Maria developed a system of support together with her community for students who face immigration or criminal courts, leading her to found the non-profit organization ALAS.

ALAS organizes youth impacted by either court system to train teachers from many schools on how to support their students facing immigration court or criminal district court proceedings. Lisa Maria is the founder of New Orleans’ young Colombians group Reunión de la juventud colombiana as well as the NOLA Educators Support Immigrant Students network. When she’s not engaging in justice and access work, Lisa María can be found enjoying nature, backpacking around the world, worshiping at St. Roch Community Church, swimming, running, biking, playing on intramural sports teams as well as dancing salsa, bachata and samba at dance congresses across the country. She trained with Tropik Vybe Dance Company in New Orleans and performed with Swing Latino and Salsa Pura in Cali, Colombia.

Advocacy Project Summary:
The 6th amendment right to counsel is not afforded in immigration court. Without an attorney, youth win 8% of cases, but with an attorney they win 88% of cases. ALAS spends considerable time and effort getting lawyers to fill in that gap for youth and training teachers to pair youth with our attorney partners. Establishing a New Orleans coalition to bring Universal Public Representation to immigration courts will ensure all immigrants unable to afford a private attorney get the legal representation they deserve.

Nephtalie Jacques | Florida
Nephtalie Jacques is a Litigation Advocate for the Southern Poverty Law Center. She works primarily on Criminal Justice Reform issues such as impactul litigation cases regarding solitary confinement in Florida. She is also working on different projects with their children’s rights department. In her role, she works closely with youths and adults impacted by the criminal justice system. Speaking to incarcerated youths across Florida in adult prisons and residential facilities fueled her desire to learn and help transform/dismantle the current juvenile justice system.

She majored in Criminal Justice and minored in Psychology and Legal Studies. She interned with the American Civil Liberties Union in their Criminal Justice Reform Department. Nephtalie hopes to continue to use her passion to mobilize and advocate for much needed change.

Advocacy Project Summary:
The goal of my project is to create a two year intensive program to educate and train youths towards becoming advocates in criminal justice reform issues.

Tiana Jones | North Carolina
Tiana is a youth justice advocate from Creedmoor, NC. Tiana currently serves as a Youth Programs Coordinator with the County of Granville and NC Cooperative Extension. In this role, Tiana coordinates the development and implementation of three county-wide youth diversion programs. These programs include Granville County Teen Court, Juvenile Community Service and Granville County Restorative Circles. Tiana takes on many hats with this role but is ultimately working to ensure that the youth in Granville County have the support and opportunities they need to succeed. In her current role, she works closely with justice-involved youth and families, juvenile court services, law enforcement, school administrators and other key stakeholders.

Tiana earned her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After undergrad, Tiana served as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Through these experiences, Tiana found her passion for social justice and juvenile justice reform. In an attempt to further her knowledge and experience, Tiana attended the University of Michigan where she earned her Master of Social Work (MSW) with a concentration in Social Policy and Evaluation in Community and Social Systems. Tiana has since continued her training through certification programs and has become a Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW), Child and Youth Care - Professional and certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid.

Advocacy Project Summary: 
Tiana’s advocacy project will focus on the implementation of a county-wide School-Justice Partnership (SJP) in order to move away from zero tolerance policies and toward the utilization of restorative practices. Tiana plans to bring together various community stakeholders who work together to develop and implement effective strategies to address student misconduct through a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU).

Tena Hahn | Nebraska
Tena (she/her) brings a full range of career experience to Black and Pink National as a DEI professional and educator. Her background as an entrepreneur, educator, and community organizer has made her one of the most recognizable people in Omaha. As co-founder of REVEL, Omaha’s only LGBTQIA2S+ safe social space and community fundraiser, Tena has focused her efforts to organize, support, and celebrate Omaha’s LGBTQIA2S+ community since the event’s inception in 2014.

Tena’s career experience as a dance and fitness instructor made her an entrepreneur at the age of 32, and an educator to three generations of youngsters and countless active adults. A lover of music, movies, social media, and an avid reader, Tena’s nonprofit career ranges from Program Associate to Business Development Manager, and Director of Strategic Partnerships. She hopes to bring her passion for young people, North Omaha, and trans and queer youth of color to this role. She lives in North Omaha with her wife Nannette, and two energetic rescue pups, Chewie and Roxy. Her child Jos is thriving in Baltimore, Maryland as a makeup artist. Tena is a native of Omaha, and a GLSEN board member. She was the former Entertainment Director for Heartland Pride and is also an AFAA certified trainer and a licensed Zumba, MixxedFit, CTY, and indoor cycling instructor.

Advocacy Project Summary:
My advocacy project will be centered around system impacted youth in North Omaha. While Opportunity Campus is under renovation, my goal while in the Youth Justice Leadership institute is to adapt Black and Pink's successful wrap-around programming and services to serve LGBTQIA2S+ youth.