About Our Team

Dedicated to creating a system that works for everyone.

Amanda DuBois

Creative Founder & CEO
Amanda DuBois is a practicing attorney in Seattle, Washington. For more 30 years she has helped individuals navigate the often confusing legal system. Amanda believes that people will be able to more meaningfully engage in their communities if they understand how the legal system works.

After publishing the Civil Survival Legal Educational Series, Amanda came to understand that people coming out of prison need more than to be educated about their legal rights and responsibilities. They need to understand how to actually change the laws that are holding them back. So, Amanda gathered some visionary friends and a group of people who had served time in prison and together they created the Civil Survival Workshops and Game-Changer Groups. Now the movement is spreading and the workshops are expanding across Washington with a goal to take the program nationally.

Amanda’s degree nursing coupled with her law degree gives her a unique perspective on how re-entry, as a root cause of poverty, is directly linked to public health issues. She is committed to creating partnerships with public health entities to explore the intersectionality between public health and re-entry policies.

Amanda is a past President and current Board Member of Women’s Funding Alliance, a Washington State nonprofit dedicated solely to advancing leadership and economic opportunity for women and girls; she serves on the Board of The Freedom Education Project of Puget Sound (FEPPS) which works to increase access to educational opportunity to inmates and provides accredited college classes for women prisoners and former prisoners in Washington State; she is also a supporter of The Innocence Project Northwest – and is co-chairing the annual fundraising dinner; she formerly served on the Board of Post-Prison Education Program, a prison reentry program that offers wrap around services to releasing prisoners and their families; Amanda also formerly served on the Board of Governors of the Washington State Association for Justice and has chaired and spoken at continuing education seminars for nurses and lawyers over the years.

Tarra Simmons

Policy Director
Tarra Simmons was released from prison in 2013 after serving nearly two years in the Washington State Department of Corrections. She recently graduated, magna cum laude, from Seattle University Law School. Tarra received a number of awards and honors including the 2016 Legal Foundation of Washington’s Goldmark Internship, the Dean’s Medal and the Distinguished Graduating Student Award. She is also the first Seattle University student to receive the prestigious Skadden Fellowship, and was selected by National Jurist as National Law Student of the Year.

While in law school, Tarra interned with public interest organizations including the Northwest Justice Project, Disability Rights Washington, the ACLU of Washington, Columbia Legal Services, and Public Defender Association. Tarra has also served on a variety of coalitions and task forces working on policy reforms, and was recently appointed by Governor Inslee to the Washington Statewide Reentry Council where she was elected to serve as co-chair along with the King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Governor Inslee also appointed Tarra to the Public Defense Advisory Committee. She has worked with Civil Survival since its launch in 2015 and started the first Game Changer group in Kitsap County.

In September, Tarra will return to the Public Defender Association as a Skadden Fellow. Her project will help former justice-involved individuals overcome legal barriers to housing and employment, and obtain relief from legal financial obligations.

Tarra is a sought after speaker and has spoken at judicial conferences, Supreme Court symposia, graduations, prisons, community meetings, treatment centers and she has presented at city, county, and state legislative hearings.

Michelle Jenkins

Community Outreach
Michelle has experienced the challenges of incarceration first hand which propelled her to engage in her community as an organizer, a social justice advocate, and a public speaker. Michelle is the founder of L.O.V.E Talks (Ladies of Vision and Empowerment), a support group for women of color. She has served as the Job Readiness Instructor for Seattle Urban League’s Career Bridge’s first women’s cohort, a program that helps formerly incarcerated individuals reintegrate back into the community by addressing areas in their lives that create boundaries, such as housing, driver’s licenses, and employment. Michelle is a member of the No New Jim Crow Seattle Campaign, a community organization that speaks to issues around mass incarceration.

In addition to Michelle’s community work, she attends Highline College where she is pursuing a BA in Behavioral Science where she is the Work Study Supervisor, and the Community Based Organization Outreach Coordinator.

James Jackson

Game Changer Leader & Facilitator
Mr. Jackson is a justice involved individual having served eight and a half years on a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence. After his release from federal prison, he enrolled at Highline College where he held many student leadership positions including Student Body President. While at Highline, James co-chaired a committee that brought a reentry program to the school to support formerly incarcerated and justice involved students. He graduated from Highline in 2017 with honors and earned two degrees: an AAS with a Certificate in Personal Fitness and an AA. James is continuing his education at The Evergreen State College where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Political, Social, and Environmental Sciences.

Cory Walster

Youth Advocacy Leader
Cory was released from prison for the last time in 2004. He is a single father of two, having raised his 16 year old daughter alone, and recently reunited with his 18 year old son who came to live with him. Cory is a Quality Assurance Technician and Safety Officer for a medical device manufacturing company. He became involved in systemic advocacy with the hope of creating a better system for children struggling in education and falling into the school to prison pipeline. He doesn’t see doing this work as an option. In his own words Cory explains: “I don’t know how to not care about these issues”. Cory has been an active member of Civil Survival for over a year. He is generous with his time and talents, and is a leader for our Community Advocates for Restorative Practices in Education (CARE) group which advocates for equity in youth education. He is also an integral part of our community outreach program where he builds relationships with other social justice groups in Kitsap County, and speaks at events about the urgency to reform the criminal justice and education systems.

Alex Mayo

Communications Director
Alex’s love for learning led him to join Toastmasters while in prison and there he quickly earned his Advanced Communicator Gold and Advanced Leader Bronze Awards. Having served in various club and district leadership positions both inside and outside of prison, Alex hopes to continue his Toastmasters’ journey by earning his Distinguished Toastmaster Award later this year.

Since being released from prison in 2012, Alex earned a second Bachelor’s Degree in Business with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship and is now in process of starting his own web design and marketing business. Despite his full plate, Alex volunteers many hours to his church’s media production team and is very devoted to family. Alex’s calling to Civil Survival stems from his own experiences and belief that people deserve a second chance and that our communities would be safer and stronger if people releasing from prison had access to adequate resources. Since becoming a member of Civil Survival, Alex has been an integral part of our organizational development and has provided much-needed communications and technical support.

Recent Blog Posts

Educate. Motivate. Liberate.

Breaking the Chains 2017

Are you ready to “Break the Chains?” Newly appointed Executive Director for Civil Survival Tarra Simmons challenged all JI’s and allies to do just that as she spoke before an enthusiastic crowd at the Seattle Federal Executive Board (SFEB). Established in...

Convening of the Board

On August 24, Civil Survival invited potential board members to an information session. Amanda DuBois reports that the meeting was a success and that “it's a great group of people and I’m thankful they came and shared their time.” Tarra Simmons shared...

Changing the Game in Auburn

August was a very busy month for Civil Survival in Auburn, Washington! On the 19th we held our first workshop in Auburn with nearly 50 people attending, including many supporters from the Kitsap County Game Changer group. On August 30, Michelle Jenkins...

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