Dawn Harrington and Gicola Lane

Free Hearts
Nashville, Tennessee

Dawn Harrington and Gicola Lane are, respectively, executive director and statewide organizer of Free Hearts, which works to solidify and reunite families impacted by incarceration. Dawn Harrington has a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University and an MBA from Bethel University. During her incarceration, Dawn was disturbed by the impact incarceration has on families, especially moms and kids, and was inspired to make a difference upon her release.

Today, Harrington is director of special projects of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, a Just Leadership USA fellow, advisory board member for Nashville Defenders and Unheard Voices Outreach, and executive director of Free Hearts. Gicola Lane (she/her) is a Black, Southern community organizer and political strategist from the east side of Nashville. After her uncle was killed by a police officer 20 years ago, she became active in community organizing and in 2018 led the effort to amend the Nashville city charter after the murder of Jocques Clemmons by a police officer.

Gicola has co-led Participatory Defense in Nashville, which organizes families and community members who are facing incarceration in order to transform the landscape of power in the courtroom. She was also manager of the Nashville Community Bail Fund. In addition to being the statewide organizer for Free Hearts, she was a 2020 Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project Fellow and is currently a trainer for the National Participatory Defense Movement as well as a Restore Your Vote Advocate for Campaign Legal Center. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University.