We are pleased to annouce the 2021 keynote speakers.
Morgan Godvin is a freelance writer, advocate, harm reductionist, and Commissioner on the Oregon Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission. She is formerly incarcerated, having spent 4.5 years in federal custody for a drug conviction. Her advocacy centers around reducing the harms associated with drug use, preventing overdose death, improving jail and prison conditions, and increasing access to higher education in prison. She is a founding member of the Oregon Consortium for Higher Education in Prison. During her years of active addiction, she was jailed many times and has written about her experiences with drug court, court-mandated treatment, jail, and corrections health. She continues writing articles for popular press publications while beginning her academic career. Additionally, she works as a writer and researcher with the Health in Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University School of Law. She aspires to a career in public health law. She is a student at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health in Portland, Oregon.
Dr. Chris Beasley is a community psychologist who conducts community-engaged applied research to strengthen communities while also participating in community organizing to support such settings and helping students develop knowledge and skills for this work. As the Principal Investigator for the Post-Prison Education Research Lab (PERL), he uses a variety of psychological sub-disciplines to better understand social and psychological factors that facilitate and hinder transitions from prison to college. Dr. Beasley's current focus of inquiry is the psychological process through which formerly incarcerated people develop a broader understanding of their future potential and undergo processes of identity change. He is also strengthening UW Tacoma's support for people making these transitions by leading the development of a Husky Post-Prison Pathways program and advising the Formerly Incarcerated Student Association of UWT. As a community organizer, Dr. Beasley co-founded the national Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network and supports the development of similar networks of formerly incarcerated leaders and advocates for prison and post-prison higher education. Lastly, Dr. Beasley is a Board Director for From Prison Cells to PhD, an organization that provides post-prison higher education mentoring and support.
Dr. Stanley Andrisse. I am an endocrinologist scientist at and faculty at Howard University College of Medicine and Georgetown Medical Center.
My interest in this stems from my story. Growing up in Ferguson-Florissant, Missouri, I got involved with making poor decisions at a very young age. By my early 20’s, those poor decisions had exacerbated and I found myself sitting in front of a judge facing 20 years to life for drug trafficking charges. The judge sentenced me to 10 years in a maximum-security prison. I did a lot of reading, writing, and soul searching in prison. Through many letters to judges and correctional officials, I was accepted into a drug rehabilitation program while in prison.
Education has been the game changer for me. I share this with you to give you the perspective of why what I do is important to me. Policies like the "Ban the Box" bill will help change the life trajectory of men and women with criminal records. I am a three-time convicted felon. Education has given me the tools and the titles to balance out those strikes that I placed against me. More important than the letters behind my name, education has broadened my life perspective and has given me hope.
I am quite certain that it was because of this “criminal conviction” question that I was rejected from several of the PhD programs I had applied to. Fortunately for me, I had made a good impression on one of my college professors (before I went to prison). This professor vouched for me and had a connection to the admissions committee at Saint Louis University. I completed my PhD at the top of my class and 2 years earlier than expected, suggesting that I was indeed qualified to have been admitted to the other programs.
The short one sentence "Convictions" question is a mountainous barrier to one’s successful reintegration into society. It is my and many others’ scarlet letter. Yes, I am a convicted felon. But I am also a doctor, a scientist, an MBA holder, a newlywed husband, a son to an aging mother, a community organizer, an institutional leader, a youth mentor, a published author, and many other things. Eliminating me before you know all of these other great things is an injustice to society.