Annual Meeting: Sept. 14, 2017

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Annual Meeting: September 14, 2017

John Howard Association thanks all who attended, supported, or volunteered at our Annual Meeting. Held on September 14, 2017 at the University Club of Chicago, more than 250 legislators, corrections officials, judges, executive and judicial branch officials and leaders, formerly incarcerated individuals, policy makers, board members, donors, funders, partners, supporters, volunteers, friends and staff were on hand to hear about the important work of the John Howard Association.

We would like to thank JHA Board Member Ken Berry, who spoke about his eight years spent in prison due to a wrongful conviction.  Never giving up on demonstrating his innocence, Ken now uses his experience and knowledge to assist currently and formerly incarcerated individuals in both his professional career as well as in his personal time.

Keynote Speaker Professor John Pfaff of Fordham University spoke about “The Three Missing People in Criminal Justice Reform.” Pfaff is the author of the acclaimed book Locked In:  The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform.  Pfaff’s speech focused on the three people missing in criminal justice reform:  the prosecutor, the person convicted of violence, and the prison guard (and his union).  John’s talk, like his book, was eye-opening and thought-provoking.  He discussed with clarity and data the true drivers of mass incarceration, which are mostly unintended consequences from criminal justice policy that has been made piecemeal and reactively rather than proactively for many, many decades.  What he shows is that our prison system is the unfortunate culmination of bad policy stemming from several failed systems – not an isolated problem.

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JHA Executive Director Jennifer Vollen-Katz gave an Executive Director reportwhich you can find here.  She also presented the following awards, thanking the recipients for their contributions to creating a fair, humane and effective criminal justice system:

Volunteer of the Year:  Patricia Unsinn

Pat has been a dedicated and committed volunteer for several years – her work for JHA includes everything from helping us in the office to accompanying us on facility visits and sharing her insightful and keen observations of the facilities, prisoners and staff. Pat’s background in appellate defense has made her an asset to our office in many ways, including lending her experience and expertise in discussions of inmate treatment and concerns.  By combining her past experiences with justice impacted individuals with her current volunteer work with JHA, Pat has demonstrated passion and commitment to both JHA’s mission and system change.   We appreciate the work she does in support of both of these things.

Dedication Award:  Marvin Klein

Marvin has been a devoted and staunch supporter of the organization – he has shared his wisdom and ideas to help and inspire the Board, and his commitment to JHA has helped to make JHA a strong and sustainable organization.  Fueled by his passion for our mission and belief in the critical importance of our watchdog role, Marvin has been a source of ongoing support, counsel and leadership at JHA.   We will continue to seek Marvin’s advice and support and we are grateful to have him as a part of JHA. Thank you for your dedication and for all that you have done for the organization.

Legislator of the Year:   State Representative Juliana Stratton

As an incoming State Representative, Julianna did not hesitate to stand up for the disenfranchised citizens in her district and throughout the State.   She championed legislation that that will improve the lives of justice involved individuals, create a fairer criminal justice system, and address social problems that are often identified and discussed, but rarely acted upon.  During her first session as a legislator Julianna sponsored approximately 130 bills, and was the primary sponsor and driving force on almost ¼ of these bills.  JHA commends her for her bold work and true commitment to reform.  Having worked with Julianna, like many other partners and collaborators here today, I can say that we are in no way surprised at her perseverance and dedication to changing the system.

Changemaker of the Year:  State’s Attorney Kim Foxx

Kim’s dedication to reform is not just in words, it is clear in her bold and decisive actions.  In her tenure as State’s Attorney, Kim has increased the dollar threshold for burglary, pushed for bond reform, launched a unit targeting gun crimes, taken a new look at the handling of wrongful convictions in her office, promoted transparency and advanced opportunities to divert people from the justice system.  These changes reflect Kim’s recognition of the powerful role prosecutors play in our criminal justice and prison systems and her commitment to using that power to make the system more fair, trustworthy, and responsive to the needs of the people of Cook County and Illinois. 

The John Howard Association would like to thank the following event sponsors for their generous commitment to our work:


Bluhm Family Foundation
Cynthia Kobel
Project I-11
Regenia Stein & Roland James

Evan Griffith and Exelon Corporation
Jawanza & Preeya Hughes
Kevin McCall and Jenner & Block LLP
Tawani Foundation

Terry & Annette Faulk
Patricia Unsinn

Camille Bennett and ACLU of Illinois
W. Ken Berry and Winston & Strawn LLP
Arthur and Arlene Don
Dean Creasie Finney Hairston and Jane Addams College of Social Work
Marvin Klein and PortionPac Chemical Corporation
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Mesirow Financial
SAFER Foundation
Peter Senechalle & Michelle Olson
Joseph F. Vosicky, Jr.

Emma HarrisonPast