Galaxy Leader Fellowships

The galaxy leaders fellowship

about the program

The Galaxy Leader Fellowships is a cohort-centered initiative in which emerging and historically under-supported leaders in the criminal justice reform field are provided a one-time, unrestricted award of $150,000 paid out in two equal installments over two years to undergird their work. We aim to provide these leaders with the space and time to cultivate relationships with other advocates, access to group workshops, and one-to-one coaching sessions. We support professional and programmatic capacity development, and personal and collective strategies for healing and restoration.

Galaxy Gives started the Galaxy Leader Fellowships in 2019 to support directly impacted grassroots organizers, faith leaders, executive directors, lawyers, advocates, writers, and others who have dedicated their lives to ending our nation’s punitive criminal justice system. Directly impacted leaders inspired the fellowship by expressing the need for time and space to heal, learn, and dive into critical areas of organizational and leadership development. Galaxy Gives understands that the power of transformation emanates from the strength of individuals harmed by the system of oppression they seek to dismantle. Guided by this belief, we are committed to investing in leaders across the United States who are at an inflection point in their careers to advance change by providing training and financial support, as well as peer learning through cohort-based engagement, and space for the reflection necessary for both their leadership in the field and work in the organization.

Selection Criteria for Galaxy Leaders Fellows

  1. Lived experience with the criminal legal system (i.e. survivors of harm, formerly incarcerated, and individuals with family impacted by the system.)
  2. Innovative approach to justice work
  3. Collaboration and relationship-building
  4. Liberation framework

2020 brought a new impetus to the program with the intersecting crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation’s racial justice reckoning, and, arguably, the most important presidential election of our lifetime. We recognize that the suffering of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters traces its way back to 1968, 1865, 1776, and 1619. We know that those who have been most harmed know best how to end systems of oppression. As a result, our Galaxy Leader Fellowship looks for returning citizens, survivors of crime, or individuals with significant lived experience with the criminal justice system who can advance transformational change. This historical moment presents an unprecedented opportunity to attack old problems in novel ways. Thus, candidates are reviewed for their ingenuity, creative thinking, and potential. A staple of the program is cohort engagement, so we evaluate candidates for their ability to build relationships and cross-pollinate. We believe providing our Galaxy Leader Fellows with multiple perspectives and approaches through the cohort model will empower them to attack the problem at hand more successfully. Lastly, Galaxy Gives assesses whether the candidate is undertaking work with the potential to transform our criminal justice system. 

Selection Process

Over the course of the year, our program staff receives recommendations from our Galaxy Leader fellows, grantees, allied funders, and other stakeholders in the field to make nominations based on the aforementioned criteria. Program staff will filter this list of nominations down to the top 30 candidates based on the selection criteria as well as the effort to create a diverse candidate pool in terms of race, gender, geography, organization/project focus, and issue areas. Unsolicited applications are not accepted. After finalizing the list of 30 potential candidates, Galaxy Gives’ program staff will invite full applications via email.

Once applications are received, Galaxy Gives program staff will review and rank the applicants. Every application is thoroughly reviewed by at least two staff members. The team will evaluate and award points based on the criteria established above. This methodology allows us to have a deliberative process from the beginning.

In the interview stage, Galaxy Gives program staff convenes three selection committees over one day; each committee comprises two Galaxy Gives staff and one Galaxy Leader fellow. Each interview will last 40 minutes. Galaxy Gives staff notifies candidates who have been awarded a Galaxy Leader Fellowship by February 15. Candidates who did not receive a Galaxy Leader Fellowship award would have an opportunity to receive feedback if they so choose.


Candidates must be either residents or citizens of the United States. 


Please email Alex Duran with any questions regarding the program.
Full List of Galaxy Leaders: 

2021 Galaxy Leader Fellowships Cohort

Brittany White

Dallas, Texas

Brittany White is an organizer, strategist, and trainer at Faith in Action, mobilizing the faith community to fight for ending mass incarceration and the scourge of gun violence in the United States. Brittany’s work centers on the unique experiences of women and how our criminal legal system impacts them.

Ebony Underwood

New York, New York

Ebony Underwood  is the founder & CEO of We Got Us Now, engaging, educating, elevating, and empowering children and young adults impacted by parental incarceration. He does this through the use of digital narratives, safe spaces & advocacy-led campaigns to ensure their voices are at the forefront of strategic initiatives, practices, and policies that will help to keep their families connected, create fair sentencing, and end mass incarceration.

Jacinta Gonzalez

Phoenix, Arizona

Jacinta Gonzalez is a Senior Campaign Organizer with Mijente, focusing on ending the criminalization of immigrants. Previously, Jacinta was the lead organizer for the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice Congress of Day Laborers. In Louisiana, Gonzalez helped establish a base of day laborers and undocumented families dedicated to building worker power, advancing racial justice, and organizing against deportations in post-Katrina New Orleans

James Jeter

Hartford, Connecticut

James Jeter is co-director of the Full Citizen’s Coalition to Unlock the Vote, working to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people in Connecticut. After serving almost twenty years in prison, James also helped build Yale’s Prison Education Initiative.

Rev. Jeannie Alexander

Nashville, Tennessee

Rev. Jeannie Alexander is the director of No Exceptions Prison Collective, working on the un-caging of our loved ones, family members, ourselves, neighbors, and friends through a combination of litigation, legislation, and grassroots movement building. She collaborates with prisoners, free world individuals, houses of worship, and other like-minded organizations.

Katie Schaffer

Brooklyn, New York

Katie Schaffer is the director of organizing and advocacy at Center for Community Alternatives, focusing on community-based alternatives to incarceration and policy advocacy to reduce reliance on incarceration. Before that, she was the New York State Organizer for JLUSA and coordinated the statewide #FREEnewyork campaign for bail reform and pretrial justice, which won a historic victory in April 2019.

Richard Wallace

Chicago, Illinois

Richard Wallace is the founding executive director of Equity and Transformation (EAT), working to shape policies at the local and national levels for people in the informal economy. In 2019 EAT played a vital role in recreational cannabis legalization in Illinois. The policy EAT informed became the first recreational cannabis policy to incorporate reparations for the war on drugs.

Robert "Saleem" Holbrook

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Robert "Saleem" Holbrook is the executive director of the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC), working to end race- and class-based discrimination in the criminal justice system. He has also led ALC’s campaigns against death by incarceration, solitary confinement, and state violence. Robert was released from prison in 2018 after spending over two decades incarcerated for an offense for which he was convicted as a minor.

Romarilyn Ralston

Fullerton, California

Romarilyn Ralston is program director of Project Rebound, supporting the higher education and successful reintegration of the formerly incarcerated with a vision that higher education disrupts the revolving door practices of mass incarceration. Romarilyn is a Black feminist prison abolitionist scholar working to interrupt criminalization at the intersections of race, gender, and education.

Rodreshia Russaw

Dothan, Alabama

Rodreshia Russaw is the executive director of The Ordinary People Society (T.O.P.S.), fighting for reproductive justice rights in Alabama. She has dedicated her life to attacking the crises of domestic violence abuse and mass incarceration.

2020 Galaxy Leader Fellowships Cohort

Adnan Khan

Los Angeles, California

Adnan Khan is the executive director of Re:Store Justice, working with currently and formerly incarcerated people, survivors of crime, district attorneys, and the community to reimagine our justice system. While incarcerated, Adnan inspired, launched, and worked on the Felony/Murder rule legislation (Senate Bill 1437). The bill passed, and after serving 16 years, in January 2019, Adnan was the first person re-sentenced under the bill he helped create.

Andy Potter

Lake Odessa, Michigan

Andy Potter is the founder and executive director of One Voice, uniting leading labor unions, policymakers, reform advocates, faith-based groups, and academics from across the United States to advance effective criminal justice reform efforts.

Bianca Tylek

New York, New York

Bianca Tylek is the founder & executive director of Worth Rises, combining her direct experience with the criminal legal system and financial and legal services expertise to challenge the prison industrial complex. In New York City, Bianca drafted the young adult plan that eliminated solitary confinement for young adults 21 years old and younger—a first in the nation.

Dave George

New York, New York

Dave George is the associate director of the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign (RAPP), organizing and advocating with and on behalf of people impacted by long-term incarceration in New York State prisons. The experiences of his incarcerated loved ones in New York State prisons led Dave to join RAPP and dedicate his life to the cause.

Erin Leigh George

New York, New York

Erin Leigh George is the national campaigns manager at the Clean Slate Initiative, advancing policies to automatically clear criminal records in states across the United States. She has dedicated her career to ending criminalization, mass incarceration, and racial injustice through grassroots policy campaigns and legislative advocacy.

Jerome Dillard

Madison, Wisconsin

Jerome Dillard is the executive director of Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing (EXPO), working to eliminate all forms of structural discrimination against formerly incarcerated people and restore their full participation in civic, political, and social life.

Johnny Perez

New York, New York

Johnny Perez is the director of the U.S. Prisons Program for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, working to end solitary confinement in the United States. Through his leadership, Johnny adds value and strategic insight to building the capacity of faith leaders and directly impacted communities to engage in education and legislative advocacy across the United States.

Jose Saldana

New York, New York

Jose Saldana Jose Saldana is the executive director of the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign (RAPP), working to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice by releasing older people in prison and those serving long-term prison sentences. Jose has committed himself to organizing and advocating for meaningful criminal justice reforms, including prison reform, parole reform, sentencing reform, and racial justice.

Marilynn Winn

Atlanta, Georgia

Marilynn Winn is the co-founder and executive director of Women on the Rise, working to reduce the number of women under correctional control in the state of Georgia. Through her work, Marilynn develops leaders and builds political power to wage campaigns and win abolitionist reforms to the criminal legal system while demanding justice, dignity, and liberation for all.

Raymond Greene

Akron, Ohio

Raymond Greene, is the founder and executive director of The Freedom ROC, building Black leadership and political infrastructure in Black communities through civic education and engagement, leadership development, and economic reinvestment in Ohio.