For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Contact on behalf of Alliance for Safety and Justice: [email protected]
NATION’S LARGEST CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM ORGANIZATION MAKES HISTORY
Alliance for Safety and Justice Promotes Jay Jordan to CEO and Aswad Thomas to Vice President, Becomes Largest Public Safety Reform Organization Led by Directly Impacted People of Color
Jordan served prison time for a gun-related crime as a teen, and Thomas nearly lost his life as a victim of gun violence; together they will lead ASJ’s advocacy for new public safety solutions, staff of 80 and national grassroots membership of 175,000
NEW YORK — At an early age, Jay Jordan and Aswad Thomas’s lives were both shaped by violence and the criminal justice system. Nearly 20 years ago Jordan began serving an eight year prison sentence for his involvement as a teenager in a robbery involving a gun. A few years later, on the opposite side of the country, Thomas nearly lost his life when he was shot during an attempted robbery. Years later they both went on to become two of the nation’s most prominent advocates for safety and justice reform. They’ll now make history as the new CEO and Vice President of the largest safety reform organization in the nation, Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ), joining together to advance new approaches to public safety.
Their firsthand experience, one as a person with a conviction and the other as a victim of crime, led both incoming CEO Jordan and incoming Vice President Thomas into grassroots organizing and policy advocacy to stop violence and advance social change. Over the past decade, both have been instrumental in advancing critical reforms to public safety and criminal justice policy.
Both are veteran leaders in Alliance for Safety and Justice and have grown through the organization’s ranks. They started out as organizers who went on to launch and run the organization’s successful programs and have played leading roles in some of the organization’s most notable achievements. These achievements include justice policy reforms to reduce incarceration and community supervision by 300,000 people and expand investments into prevention, victim services, treatment, and the creation of nearly 40 centers to support victims of trauma across the country. Their promotions secure Alliance for Safety and Justice’s position as the nation’s largest public safety reform organization led by people directly impacted by violence and the criminal justice system.
“Jay Jordan and Aswad Thomas are two of the nation’s most thoughtful and strategic leaders on public safety issues,” said Lenore Anderson, co-founder of Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ). “Under their leadership, Alliance for Safety and Justice will grow to new heights and win more reforms for the people most impacted by violence and incarceration, creating safer, stronger communities across the nation.” Anderson, who is currently serving as President and CEO, will transition to President as Jordan and Thomas begin their new roles.
Jordan and Thomas are poised to lead ASJ at a pivotal moment in both the history of the organization and the movement for real public safety solutions. With 80 staff in 15 U.S. states, and a growing membership of nearly 175,000 victims and people with past convictions, ASJ is uniquely positioned to mobilize its grassroots base to pass laws that will improve safety and provide healing for communities that experience the brunt of violence.
As part of today’s announcement, the two shared their first priority: creating safety by empowering the people most harmed, and least helped, by current justice system policies. From now through June, ASJ will host “Survivors Speak” events in more than 50 cities across the U.S. to help crime survivors find healing, build community, and advocate for policies that better support victims. And in March, the organization will launch the nation’s first ever online Economic Empowerment Platform that will support community safety by creating economic mobility and stability for people with old records.
“A decade ago, I was stepping out of prison, remorseful about my past and unsure about my future,” said Jay Jordan, CEO of Alliance for Safety and Justice. “After years of hard work, today, I’m stepping into the role of CEO and proud to lead an organization advocating for policies that are proven to increase public safety.”
Prior to becoming CEO of Alliance for Safety and Justice, Jay served as Vice President and co-founded ASJ’s TimeDone program to organize people with past convictions to reduce the barriers people with old records face to stability. He also previously served as executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, ASJ’s largest state-based program that has shepherded in a wide range of reforms to reduce incarceration and increase investments into rehabilitation. He’s received more than 20 awards for his community advocacy work, including American Red Cross Hero of the year in 2014.
Aswad Thomas, incoming vice president, previously served as ASJ’s first national crime survivors organizer, growing Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) chapters and members across the country. He then became the head of the program, which is now 90,000 members strong. Thomas has helped establish nearly 40 Trauma Recovery Centers, and led campaigns to remove bureaucratic barriers that many crime victims face. In 2021, Thomas was named number 13 on The Root’s annual list of influential Black leaders, The Root 100.
“Gun violence changed my life, first through trauma, then through new purpose,” said Aswad Thomas, vice president of Alliance for Safety and Justice. “When I was shot, it took me months to recover physically and years to recover emotionally. Because of our work at Alliance for Safety and Justice, tens of thousands of survivors have gotten the support that I never did. There’s so much more we can do to support victims of crime by investing in communities harmed by violence to help them heal from all the hurt they’ve experienced.”
Under Thomas’s leadership, CSSJ grew from having members in one state to all 50 states.
“By giving voice to crime survivors and people with old records, Alliance for Safety and Justice has been uniquely successful at winning critical, bipartisan public safety reforms in red, purple, and blue states,” said Robert Rooks, ASJ co-founder, President Emeritus of the ASJ Board of Directors and CEO of REFORM Alliance. “From passing probation reform in Texas to securing funding for crime victims in Ohio, the organization has carved out a powerful lane in the public safety conversation by advocating for what’s proven to work to keep communities safe. Jay and Aswad have been instrumental in those victories, and I’m confident ASJ will continue to secure big public safety wins under their leadership.”
This announcement comes at the same time The Just Trust and The Just Trust for Action, new grantmaking initiatives dedicated to reforming the justice system, have announced ASJ as one of the recipients of their first-ever funding to lead integrated advocacy efforts in the criminal justice field.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a national advocacy organization that aims to replace ineffective criminal justice system policies with what works to keep people safe. We represent diverse crime survivors as well as people living with old records as key public safety stakeholders. ASJ brings our members together with state leaders and coalition partners to win reforms that stop cycles of crime, reduce costly incarceration, and make communities safer. We support a range of “shared safety” reforms, including crime prevention, community health, rehabilitation, economic mobility, and trauma recovery. For more information, visit: https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.
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