JLUSA Launches “JustUs Speaks” Podcast to Amplify the Voices of Systems Impacted Leaders

January 18, 2023

As part of the ongoing mission to amplify the voices and power of systems impacted leaders, JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) today is launching the “JustUs Speaks” Podcast.

The podcast is hosted by JLUSA’s Senior Movement and Capacity Building Specialists, Hakim Crampton and Lester Young, who are experienced advocates and leaders working to mentor new generations of leaders through our “Leading with Conviction” (LwC) leadership development program. The first season of the “JustUs Speaks” Podcast features 11 episodes highlighting recent graduates from the 2022 LwC cohort.

JLUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins says, “Through the new ‘JustUs Speaks’ Podcast, we are highlighting the stories and the wisdom of just some of the amazing leaders who are part of JustLeadershipUSA’s network across the nation. As we say in JLUSA, our experience is our expertise, and this podcast exemplifies how formerly incarcerated leaders have incredible wisdom to share about leadership for anyone in any walk of life.”

Hakim Crampton said, “‘Justus Speaks’ is a powerful platform for justice-impacted persons to share the amazing work and extraordinary journey of their lives in overcoming the greatest of odds to emerge as inspirational leaders.”

Lester Young said, “It’s been a pleasure interviewing some phenomenal leaders who recently graduated from the ‘Leading with Conviction’ training. Their resilience is evident in all their accomplishments after incarceration. They remind me of Tupac Shakur’s poem, ‘The Rose That Grew From Concrete.’ Each one of them grew from something that was meant to kill them.”

The “JustUs Speaks” Podcast is available on all major podcasting platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and more.

Here’s a preview of the first season of the “JustUs Speaks” Podcast:

  • Episode 1 – Lana Mendis – She graduated from JLUSA’s “Leading with Conviction” program. Now she’s working with JLUSA to grow the work!
  • Episode 2 – Keeda Haynes – She went to prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Now she’s committed to using her legal work to help others who are directly impacted.
  • Episode 3 – Derek Matthews – He was one of the nation’s top cops. Then he went to prison himself.
  • Episode 4 – Maggie Luna – She thought she was going to die in prison, because of the poor conditions. Today, Maggie Luna is fighting for the lives of her fellow Texans behind bars.
  • Episode 5 – Tony McCright – He ran his illegal enterprises like a business. So when he got out of prison, he decided to use those same talents for helping others build wealth through home ownership.
  • Episode 6 – Avalon Betts-Gaston – She was wrongfully convicted, went to prison believing people behind bars were “bad people,” and found herself lifted from a dark place by the women incarcerated with her who she was taught to fear. Today she is fighting for her fellow women and girls both inside prisons and after re-entry.
  • Episode 7 – Andrew Winn – As a kid, he enjoyed playing in the dirt. Today, as a formerly incarcerated leader, he helps give people in 10 California prisons the experience of gardening through the Insight Garden Program.
  • Episode 8 – Brittany Lovely – Anger used to be her driving force. Today she is motivated by love to tear down the criminal legal system and rebuild something just in its place.
  • Episode 9 – Edwin Fuller – He found dignity inside of prison through reading books about others in even more dire circumstances. Today he is helping other justice-impacted individuals in Ohio find dignity and hope.
  • Episode 10 – Kim Woodson – She was sentenced to life in prison at age 17. Twenty-nine years later she was released. Today she has a global vision for providing reentry services to fellow formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • Episode 11 – Philip Cooper – He grew up in poverty, got involved with using and selling drugs, and went to prison. But he says, don’t get it twisted, prison saved his life.

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Thank you so much for supporting our mission here at JLUSA! Your donation helps to support our network of leaders working to dismantle oppressive systems and uplift people and families impacted by mass incarceration across the country.

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