The Ella Baker Center's Next Chapter

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights has never been a place for small dreams.  And with your encouragement this year we are ramping up for our biggest vision yet: reduce the incarceration rate in the United States by 50% or more in ten years.

There are many who’ve said that this cannot be done.  But we’ve heard that before.

Looking back at our history, we know that the Ella Baker Center has never shied away from audacious goals or big fights.  

In fact, boldness has underpinned our campaigns, whether our goal was to close California’s notorious youth prisons and reduce the youth prison population by 80% or to be the first to defeat Prop 6, a “lock em’ up” initiative that would have robbed our schools of vital funds.  

Part of what we’ve learned about building a winning strategy is that it starts with building a winning team.  Over the past few months, we’ve explored the best ways to take on this unprecedented work and what kind of team we need to achieve it.

I’m excited to announce that we’ve recruited the best and the brightest from across the country to join the Ella Baker Center team and grow our national campaign to success.  

First, we are expanding senior leadership.  As of August 1st, I will step into the role of President, with a focus on shepherding our vision forward.  At the same time, the one and only Zachary Norris, former director of Ella Baker Center’s Books Not Bars campaign and current co-Director of the national Justice for Families campaign, will join us as the new Executive Director.

For those of you who don’t know Zachary, let me tell you a little bit about why we are so excited to have him on board.  In addition to his previous leadership of Books Not Bars, he is a NYU-educated attorney, a 2011 Soros Justice Fellow, and an Oakland native.  He is the perfect person to lead the Ella Baker Center into the next chapter of our history.

Chip in $10, $20, or even $50 to let Zach know you've got his back as he hits the ground running.

In addition to Zachary, I am also very excited to announce that two of the nation’s most preeminent social justice leaders will be joining our Board of Directors.  

The first is our founder, best-selling author, and award-winning human rights pioneer Van Jones.  The second addition to our board is Michelle Alexander—yes, I said Michelle Alexander—the author of The New Jim Crow and a civil rights lawyer!

Of course, the most important members of our team have always been folks like you who share our vision.  Your unflagging support is what gives us the courage to take on big challenges.

Only by working together can we create the kind of society our families deserve.  Thank you for standing with us.