Meet the inaugural class of the Dream Fellowship
Our nation has big problems and a lack of leaders to provide solutions. That’s why Dream.Org created the Dream Fellowship, a 12-week, virtual training program designed for budding activists who have a bold vision for change that haven’t had a similar opportunity to gain the skills to bring it into being. Our inaugural Fellowship cohort represents a diverse group of people from across the country, working on issues as diverse as gun violence to reentry post-incarceration, substance use harm reduction, mental health stabilization, environmental justice, and immigration.
40% of our Dream Fellows are formerly incarcerated, with an additional 15% being the loved ones of people who have been touched by the criminal-legal system. This intergenerational group is made up of members of Gen Z, baby boomers, and people in between, all devoted to seeding an idea for how they will bring progress, empowerment, and justice to their communities.
Ashley Adams was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Recently Ashley has been closely working with Tyme to Thrive Beyond Grief after the death of Ashley’s friend back in February of 2022. Ashley has been also navigating through her own experiences of being impacted by the criminal justice system. In October 2019, Ashley obtained her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. Studying criminal justice has created a strong foundation for law. Ashley wants to become a lawyer, and her main goal and the thing that she is passionate about is advocating & providing financial support for individuals who have lost a loved one to Gun Violence in all 50 states.
Raised in West Texas and reside in Dallas, TX.
I received my Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Dallas Baptist University. I am a justice impacted individual who got into this work due to not being able to sign a lease and the many other barriers to gain employment that pays a livable wage. I Volunteer with many organizations to educate and give back to my community. Love to travel and spend time with my family.
Growing up in New Orleans, I witnessed a lot of social injustice and always felt compelled to do something about it. As I got older, I began to take more actionable steps toward solving some of society's most pressing issues—specifically, food insecurity. Realizing my passion to alleviate food insecurity, I applied to the Dream Fellowship. Through my Dream Project, I plan to solve the issue of food insecurity in my area (and, hopefully, eventually nationwide) while simultaneously reducing food waste. Most of all, I hope to inspire others to be the change they wish to see.
During my four-year journey through federal prison, what I experienced not only reshaped my perspective on life but ignited a fervent desire to become the voice for those silenced by the criminal justice system. This profound experience has opened my eyes to necessary changes within the federal system, specifically the lack of federal halfway houses. The first change on my agenda is to get a federal halfway house open in Kansas City, Missouri.
My name is Amber Cook. Ever since I was little, I have had a yearning to help others, which unfortunately led me down a path that ended with incarceration. During this down time, I was able to turn this major lesson into a great blessing. With the help of a program (RDAP) within the Federal Prison system, I was able to do major inner work with healing past traumas, creating healthy ways of thinking, learning how to set healthy boundaries amongst other valuable tools. I was 41 years old and just learning this... how much would this have helped me when I was younger?
My Dream Project is that I want to create a program within our educational system that will provide this same support and opportunity for our youth.
Pauline Doty grew up in Indiana and now lives in Columbia, SC. At 20 years old, she had a serious mental health crisis. She found support and recovery with help of counselors, family, and her faith community. After finishing college and seminary, she supported persons in all kinds of recovery, linking spirituality and psychotherapeutic approaches. She is currently working on her dream project: a new crisis stabilization group home.
Britney Allen Jones is a previously incarcerated individual with six years in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). She graduated from Brescia University with a Bachelor's degree in social work. She is currently enrolled in the Master's program at the University of Kentucky. Aside from her own incarceration, Britney has been directly impacted by the criminal justice system on many personal levels. Her dad died in prison at 42 years old in 2011 and her brother died in 2021 at 31 years old while incarcerated. Britney has started a non profit organization, The Chad Lake Foundation (CLF) in honor and memory of her brother. CLF's mission is to raise awareness on the disease concept of addiction, reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorders, advocate for those still incarcerated, and reduce recidivism by developing and implementing programs for reentry prior to release.
Born in South Korea to a farmer's daughter and a Black American Soldier, identity, homeland and the elusive sense of true belonging in community were early concepts that uniquely informed Nobi Kennedy's life and ultimately, their activism. Research into their family ancestry took Nobi deep into the wetlands of the Mississippi River Delta, where eighty acres of untouched landscape held the only remaining family heirlooms. With Dream.org's fellowship, Nobi is working to conserve this inheritance not only protect the habitat against any future industrialization but as a living tribute in honor of family legacy, human connection to our planet and our responsibility to care for it and each other as a collective. Nobi continues to work with local changemakers of all backgrounds in the climate space in hopes that everyone can find a place to belong and be seen in the movement for climate change and justice.
As a proud DACA recipient, Arwa has a long-standing interest in humanizing the impact of systematic inequalities. In her current position as a Judicial Diversion paralegal at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, she works towards elevating the use of evidence-based programming for justice-involved individuals, connecting them to essential services to reduce recidivism and improve public safety. Arwa's Dream Project is to provide comprehensive wraparound legal and social services for new immigrants in NYC through borough-wide navigation centers. Her goal is to work on behalf of vulnerable communities to reform, revitalize, and defend systems of justice.
Ileana 'Lee' Salazar Chavez is a queer, non-binary, Xicane social justice advocate from Los Angeles, CA. They became a sole parent at a young age and faced many challenges common amongst single mothers. Lee learned from personal experience that there wasn't much support or resources available to single parents and vowed to change that. Their dream project is focused on empowering single parents and LGBTQIA+ youth by ensuring safe housing, social support, and the necessary resources to thrive. Lee is also a passionate climate activist and believes our society's purpose is to protect our environment for future generations.
Noha Thalib grew up in a biracial family in the Middle East, among a community that she called the United Nations representing over 30 countries. She is a licensed professional counselor in New Jersey with an agency contracted with the Department of Children and Families. There she works primarily with vulnerable populations with moderate to severe mental health challenges. She is also the Director for Programs and Immigration Services at her agency, working with Afghan Refugees to advocate for their fundamental rights, especially accessible education. Her dream project is amending FAFSA to include DACA recipients (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to allow them to access financial assistance. The financial burden of higher education has been a deterrent for many DACA recipients, which has slowed or diminished their potential to progress, which Noha herself has experienced extensively. Despite the barriers to access, Noha completed her double Master's degree in Counseling and Education from Seton Hall University. This could not have happened without the mentors and professors who believed in her potential and advocated for her. Noha plans to do a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology.
Ms. Tonya Tucker, completed her Masters of Social Work at Fordham University, New York City. Ms. Tucker has worked with several New Jersey and New York social service agencies that service those impacted by the criminal justice system.
Ms. Tucker is currently a Medical Social Worker for the City of Newark‚Äôs Office of Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery, assigned to the Newark Police Department 5th Precinct. In this capacity Ms. Tucker is responsible for providing a range of clinical and social services to those in custody and to the community. These services include victim services, treatment recommendations, referrals to community-based providers, on-site case management, crisis intervention, and counseling services. Advocating for clients and empowering them to advocate for themselves is an area in which Tonya excels. Whether it be facilitating psycho-educational groups for persons battling substance abuse, collaborating with relevant community agencies to enhance client care. She has over 20 years of experience in programing, and community planning. She continues to utilize her skills in case management, trauma and mental health care. To date, Ms. Tucker continues to guide individuals as they navigate through the social services and legal systems and seeks to make positive life-changing decisions.
Laurie J. Washington Program Manager, Career Awareness/Workforce Development DTE Energy is responsible for the design and execution of workforce planning & development initiatives. Her primary focus is cultivating and growing career awareness that yields increased diversity in hiring within DTE‚Äôs workforce. Laurie is a skillful connector and mentor. She is a Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated Diamond Life member, a Dream.Org Fellow, and current Social Action Co-Chair with Delta Sigma Theta, Detroit Alumnae Chapter. Laurie‚Äôs passion and expertise led her to collaborate with justice-impacted individuals around reentry and reducing recidivism.
What’s next after graduation?
Fellows will graduate in mid-November of 2023 and continue to flesh out their bold visions for change with active mentorship from Dream.Org staff.
If you’re interested in participating in next year’s Dream Fellowship class, email Harrison Ribeiro, Senior Organizing Manager.
Check out more information about our training program specifically for people impacted by the legal system, the Dream Justice Cohort, and more opportunities with Dream.Org past and present.