Prison Policy Initiative Appoints Five New Board Members in Pursuit of Strategic Growth.

Each will help propel the Prison Policy Initiative with new ideas, new energy and new partnerships.

March 4, 2021


(Northampton, MA) – The Prison Policy Initiative, a leading research organization in the field of criminal justice, added five new directors to the board of directors to help foster strategic growth. The new members will serve three-year terms:

  1. Sharon Cromwell, Deputy State Director, New York Working Families Party
  2. Ed Epping, AD Falck Professor of Art, Emeritus, Williams College
  3. Timothy Fisher, Professor of Law and former Dean, University of Connecticut School of Law
  4. Leslie M. Smith, IBM Business Development Executive (retired) and Founder / CEO DistancEd. Inc
  5. Paul Watterson, Of Counsel, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP

“The Prison Policy Initiative is proud to welcome these five leaders to our board. Each will help propel the Prison Policy Initiative with new ideas, new energy and new partnerships” said the Board’s President, Elena Lavarreda, NJ Political Director, SEIU 32BJ.

Also welcoming the new members are: Nora V. Demleitner, Director, Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Daniel Kopf, Board Treasurer, Data Editor, San Francisco Chronicle, and Bernadette Rabuy, Board Clerk, Trial Attorney, Homicide/Major Crime Defense Unit, New York County Defender Services.

In January, the Board participated in a two-day retreat where they set their goals for the coming year, including recruiting additional directors to the Board. “We’re looking forward to supporting the Prison Policy Initiative at this critical transition point, as they welcome new senior staff, including a Director of Advocacy and Communications Director, and expand as an organization with staff in several states,” said Leslie M. Smith, one of the new directors and Founder/CEO DistancEd. Inc., a non-profit that trains computer skills to formerly incarcerated people. Another new director, Ed Epping, shared his excitement about the Prison Policy Initiative’s plans, “The Prison Policy Initiative’s insightful data analysis and powerful graphics have long fueled the national movement for criminal justice reform by filling in key messaging and data gaps. We’re looking forward to supporting the Prison Policy Initiative as it begins to have the dedicated staff and capacity to outreach to local, state, and national advocates and support them with our research.”

The Prison Policy Initiative ( was co-founded by Peter Wagner in 2001 to document and publicize how mass incarceration punishes our entire society. Since its inception, the Prison Policy Initiative has gained national recognition for compiling and presenting up-to-date information about the criminal justice system that empowers policymakers, journalists, advocates, and the general public to participate in the justice reform movement. The Department of Justice’s National Institute of Corrections, for example, calls one report “required reading for those people striving to reform the correctional system.” Frequently cited in traditional media as a reliable and accessible source on a number of incarceration issues, the Prison Policy Initiative also has an influential social media presence and demonstrated success in guiding and informing public discourse on incarceration policy. You can find a full list of the Prison Policy Initiative’s most prominent successes at


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