About Our TeamDedicated to creating a system that works for everyone.
Meet Our Officers
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 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.
Youth Advocacy Leader
Cory is a registered tribal member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, he was released from prison for the last time in 2004. He is a single father of two, having raised his 17 year old daughter alone, and reunited with his 20 year old son who came to live with him two years ago. Cory works for a manufacturing company and is the lead of the Orthotics, Punch Press and Tumbling Departments as well as the Safety Officer. He became involved in systemic advocacy with the hope of creating a better system for children struggling in education, children that are being pushed out of the educational setting and falling into the school to prison pipeline. Cory has been an active member of Civil Survival for more than two years now. He is generous with his time and talents, and is the Game Changer leader for Kitsap County. He is also an integral part of our community outreach program where he builds relationships with other social justice groups in Kitsap County. Cory is also highly active and serves on the executive committee for West Sound for Social Justice, (WSSJ) Cory also serves on an assortment of committees in the community, he is most proud of serving on the student rights and responsibilities committee for Central Kitsap School district for the last two years, working to, redraft the discipline code with the goal to reduce out of school suspensions and keep children in a learning environment.
Director of Operations
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.
Hundreds of people living with debt from court-imposed legal financial obligations (LFO’s) recently gathered at the Kitsap County Courthouse for the first ever “LFO Reconsideration Day.” The event was a collaboration between Civil Survival, Public Defender...
Civil Survival was recently honored by the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County with its 2019 Making Democracy Work Award. The award recognizes organizations and individuals who raise their voices to promote democracy and civil discourse in King County. The...
On December 15, Civil Survival hosted its third full-day Workshop for 2018 at Highline College in Kent. Over 30 people attended, including three local elected officials. Our Workshops are designed to fulfill our mission to organize people who have been directly...