The RAPP collective works to dismantle the racist punishment system
Jose Hamza Saldana, Director
Jose was released from state prison in January 2018, after 38 years of incarceration and four parole denials. During his decades in prison, he obtained a college degree. More importantly, he committed himself to organizing and advocating for racial justice and meaningful changes to the criminal legal system, including transformative changes to parole and sentencing. He is an alumnus of the Resurrection Study Group, which espouses the Non-Traditional Approach to Criminal and Social Justice.
Since his release from prison, Jose has been a critical advocate pushing for key policy changes for incarcerated people and building strategic partnerships to end mass criminalization. He was chosen as RAPP’s director by Mujahid Farid and the entire RAPP leadership collective just before Farid’s passing in late 2018.
As an advocate, Jose is a prominent national speaker on issues of mass incarceration and ending life sentences. He is the recipient of the 2019 Freedom Fighter Award issued by Citizens Against Recidivism.
He mentored hundreds of men during his years inside and continues to inspire all of us with his energy, commitment, and leadership.
Dave George, Associate Director
RAPP Associate Director Dave George helps to lead RAPP’s community organizing, advocacy, and communications work. Dave has been doing prison abolition work in New York State for more than five years. He has a Bachelors in Social Work and Spanish and a Masters in Social Work and Public Policy. He lives in New York City.
TeAna Taylor, Co-Director of Policy & Communications and Capital Region Organizer
TeAna advocates for children of incarcerated parents, informed by her father’s nearly two decades of incarceration and working with We Got Us Now and the HALT Solitary Campaign. She has been engaging her community in restorative justice work for the past five years. She created and maintained a peer mediation program at a local middle school, leading mediations between youth, parents, and teachers; facilitating circles that ranged from community building within classrooms to repairing harm between community members; providing conflict coaching sessions for students; and training students in peer mediation and conflict resolution. TeAna has also facilitated circles to address issues faced by students and faculty of color at her alma mater, SUNY Schenectady, that lead to policy change for a more inclusive and diverse campus.
Mark Shervington, Statewide Advocacy Associate
A New York City native, Mark served 29 years in NYS prisons on a 15-years-to-life sentence. In prison he became a Certified Paralegal Specialist and successfully challenged the NYS Parole Board’s policies, practices and determinations denying parole to deserving candidates, as well as helping to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals. Released in 2015, he was the first non-law student to be awarded a National Lawyers Guild Haywood Burns Memorial Fellowship for Social and Economic Justice. Mark leads RAPP’s New York City organizing work and is an Advisory Board member of the Parole Preparation Project of the NYC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
Jared Chausow, Co-Director of Policy & Communications
Jared has worked to change state and local laws, policies, and practices for 14 years. He previously worked on the policy team at Brooklyn Defender Services, where he mobilized public defenders (criminal defense, immigration defense, family defense, and eviction defense) in the city and from across the state to support campaigns led by directly impacted people, including: bail reform, discovery reform, the #HALTsolitary Campaign, securing free phone calls in NYC jails, ending Broken Windows policing, and more. He was a volunteer member of RAPP before joining the staff.
Jaslin Kaur, NYC Community Organizer
Jaslin Kaur was born and raised in Queens in a working-class immigrant family. She has dedicated the bulk of her time organizing here from electoral work, to labor organizing, to survivor justice. She leans on her roots as a Sikh Punjabi woman for her beliefs in ending persecution and punishment so we can all be free.
Noel Casey, Westchester/Hudson Valley Community Organizer
Noel is a Yonkers native and current resident, with a deep sense of pride and love for her community. Upon graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she earned a BA in Political Science and Sociology, Noel served as a staffer in the NYS Legislature for 3.5 years. Throughout her time in government, Noel connected deeply with various advocates from across the state which helped redefine the lens of her work. Her commitment to human rights and care for her community members drives her to work towards and imagine a more restorative world.
Elmer Flores, Long Island Regional Community Organizer
Elmer helps with advancing RAPP’s collective mission by organizing impacted communities across Long Island to advocate for fair and timely parole and release of our elders. Elmer is a Brentwood resident who has been involved in progressive grassroots organizing work on Long Island since graduating from Stony Brook University with his bachelors in 2018.
Shaquanna Herbert, Rochester Community Organizer
Shaquanna Herbert is committed to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex. She has worked closely with members of the Rochester community who have been directly impacted by mass incarceration, police brutality, and the overall criminal punishment system. Shaquanna was introduced to advocating for change by her aunt, a political prisoner currently serving a 25-to-life sentence. She is dedicated to carrying on the work her aunt has started in her hometown of Rochester. Shaquanna became a member of the RAPP team because she believes in restorative justice, true second chances, and the power of people.
Donna Robinson, Western NY Regional Organizer
Donna is a longtime resident of Buffalo, NY who began advocating for the rights of incarcerated people in Western New York with Prisoners are People Too. It was there that she first connected with RAPP, eventually becoming a RAPP member in 2017. Donna is a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She has a daughter serving a 15 year to life sentence in New York State. She decided to become RAPP’s Western NY Regional Organizer when one of her daughter’s mentors, Valerie Gaiter, died in prison after 40 years of confinement. Donna works to ensure that no more Vals die behind bars.
Melissa Tanis, Communications Consultant
Melissa is a Communications Consultant for RAPP, a graduate of Columbia School of Social Work, and the Policy and Communications Manager for the Center for Justice at Columbia. She has worked for over seven years in the Communications and Policy field and supports RAPP in social media advocacy, graphic design, and newsletter communications. Melissa experienced parental incarceration for 22 years before her dad passed away in prison. She joined RAPP to support families and advocate for older people to be reunited with their communities, rather than be sentenced to die in prison.
Roslyn Smith, Brooklyn Community Leader
Roz is the Beyond Incarceration Program Manager for V-Day, a nonprofit organization that vows to end violence against women, girls, and the planet. She is using her personal experience from long-term incarceration as a vehicle for her work as a criminal justice activist/advocate. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from Mercy college while incarcerated. She created a curriculum for parenting from a distance with other incarcerated mothers. She has written blogs on her lived experiences and has been featured in a documentary film titled “What I Want My Words To Do To You” from a writing workshop at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Since her release after serving 39 years, she has devoted her time between her daughter and her activist/advocacy work
Jeannie Colón, Bronx Community Leader
Jeannie Colón is a Bronx native who worked for a prestigious financial firm, both nationally and internationally, for over 20 years. As Group Operations Manager, she managed the groups budget, established new client relations, facilitated team outings and oversaw all philanthropic events as team leader. It was only natural she became a member when her husband introduced her to RAPP. Today, she is a Bronx Community Leader committed to ending perpetual punishment, advocating for fair and timely parole and the release of elders; she does it for her husband, José, and everyone deserving grace, compassion and redemption.
Nawanna Snipe Tucker, NYC Community Leader
Nawanna is a native New Yorker, a published author, and a graduate of University of Phoenix, New York Theological Seminary, and Raising Our Voices Kin. She has worked with various organizations in the criminal justice area, utilizing her skills and knowledge in the forgotten communities. Nawanna is a community leader with RAPP.
Theresa Grady, NYC Community Leader
Theresa is a Community Leader with RAPP. Theresa’s husband, who is sixty-seven, is serving a forty-year prison sentence in a New York State prison. At RAPP, Theresa works to advance the Elder Parole and Fair and Timely Parole Bills through community outreach, door knocking, local rallies, and more. Theresa lives in Harlem, NYC.
Roslyn McLeod, Queens Community Leader
Roslyn’s journey as a Queens Community Leader with RAPP began with her believing a false assumption about prison life; which was far from the reality that she continues to be exposed to as a witness to mass incarceration. Those experiences of extreme conditions of injustice within the criminal justice system led to her having a profound awakening about elements of the parole system, such as sentencing policies and the treatment of aging individuals who are incarcerated. Roslyn joined RAPP because she no longer wants to stay silent about prison reforms. She knows that to dismantle the corruptions inside the walls and halls of the penal system takes courage, leadership, interventions, and collaboration from a great team within the RAPP Campaign which is why she is a present RAPP member.
Caroline Hansen, Long Island Community Leader
Caroline Hansen is a dedicated wife, mother, and advocate for those incarcerated. Her husband, Kristian, is currently serving a Life Without Parole Sentence, and she fights to give a voice to him and the countless others whose voice has been silenced. When she isn’t talking passionately with local lawmakers, she is currently studying at Suffolk County Community College looking to complete a degree in Social Work. In her downtime, Caroline enjoys spending time with her two daughters and the family dogs in the great outdoors.
Lisette Nieves, Bronx Community Leader
Lisette joined the RAPP community in 2020 to get involved with the campaign for the Elder Parole Bill as a ray of light to bring her brother home. He has been in prison for 40 years since the age of 16 and is not eligible for parole until 2031. Lisette is a proud lifelong Bronx resident who has dedicated herself to a career in youth development, education, and community organizing for thirty years. She also works for Community Connections for Youth, an organization which focuses on developing community-based alternatives to incarceration. She has a deep commitment to social justice and is grateful that her personal and professional lives intersect in the most meaningful ways. Lisette graduated from Wesleyan University with a Bachelor’s Degree and earned her Master’s Degree in Education at Harvard University.
Greg Mingo, Westchester Community Leader
Greg was released from prison on 9/16/21 after 40 years of incarceration for a wrongful conviction. Greg became a certified paralegal and respected jailhouse lawyer who has helped numerous men obtain their freedom or sentence reduction. He has taught domestic violence, communications, fatherhood, and much more. Upon his release he has been a champion for racial and social justice, clemency, freeing our elders, and parole reform.
Jose Di Lenola, Rochester Community Leader
Jose DiLenola was incarcerated at the age of 16 and served 26 years. While incarcerated he worked as a rehabilitation peer educator in relapse prevention, anger management, mental health, and mentored at-risk youth diversionary programs. Jose co-founded and served as President of the Lifer’s Organization and consulted several organizations. As the RAPP Rochester Community Leader he is dedicated to seeing parole reform in New York State.
Daryl Tolbert, Long Island Community Leader
A Long Island native, Daryl is sensitive to the systemic oppression that separate and unequal communities perpetuate. During his long sojourn, he reached out to his peers to obtain their high school diplomas and facilitated multiple rehabilitation programs. As a RAPP community leader, Daryl is committed to using his voice and experiences to advocate for voices behind bars.
Robert Ehrenberg, Community Leader
Robert was recently released from state prison via executive clemency after serving nearly three decades behind bars. During his incarceration, he completed two college degrees, participated in numerous rehabilitative programs, and created an educational fund for children of incarcerated persons. While behind bars he also collaborated with RAPP to advocate for parole justice. Since his release, he has continued to advocate to bring home the people he left behind. He also dedicates his time to eliminating food insecurity within our communities, building transitional housing for newly released incarcerated men and women, and is a member of the Executive Clemency Advisory Council.
Mujahid Farid and RAPP Founder
RAPP was founded in 2013 by the late Mujahid Farid, who died on November 20, 2018, and two other formerly incarcerated elders, Kathy Boudin (22 years in NYS prison) and Laura Whitehorn (14 years in federal prison).
Farid served 33 years in New York prisons. He was denied parole nine times, based solely on the nature of his original offense; as a result, his 15-years-to-life sentence turned into 33 years of incarceration. During his incarceration he earned degrees from Syracuse University, SUNY/New Paltz, and New York Theological Seminary. In 1986 he helped create the first HIV/AIDS peer education program in NY prisons—a program now taught in every NYS prison—and a college certificate program sponsored by New York Theological Seminary. He was a brilliant jailhouse lawyer.
Farid knew that his repeated parole denials reflected the reality of many long-term incarcerated people—working to change their lives while aging in prison, yet unable to be seen and evaluated for the people they had become and how they had transformed their lives, rather than for who they were at the time of their arrest. Drawing on this awareness and a political and moral commitment to uplift the people he’d left behind, soon after his 2011 release he joined with Kathy and Laura to create the country’s first organizing campaign dedicated to releasing older incarcerated people. He was awarded a 2013 Soros Justice Fellowship to launch RAPP.
Widely loved and respected, Farid spent his last days and hours at home, surrounded by his family and his RAPP and Parole Preparation Project family. His death was marked by an obituary in the New York Times.
Following Kathy Boudin’s release from New York State prison in 2003, she earned a PhD in social work and founded the Coming Home Program at the Spencer Cox Center for Health, Mt. Sinai/St.Luke’s, which provides health care for people returning from incarceration. In addition to her work with RAPP she is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Justice at Columbia University and the author of many articles and research papers on the causes and consequences of incarceration, especially as these affect women and children.
After Laura Whitehorn’s release from prison in 1999 she worked as senior editor at POZ Magazine and as editor in chief of Turn It Up! Staying Strong Inside, a magazine by and for incarcerated people. She helped organize “Self-Determination Inside/Our” at Interference Archive in 2015, edited the writings of the late Black Panther political prisoner Safiya Bukhari (“The War Before”), and is a full-time volunteer organizer with RAPP.