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 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.
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.
Several Civil Survival members recently traveled to Indianapolis to participate in the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison. The conference is a space where students, teachers, advocates and allies can meet to develop networks and share learning in...
Dr. Christopher Beasley Talks to the Tacoma Ledger About His Work at the University of Washington Tacoma
Dr. Christopher Beasley is a co-founder of the Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network (FICGN) and a Civil Survival board member. His work as a University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) professor was recently featured in the Tacoma Ledger. The article...
Civil Survival Co-Chair Chris Poulos recently spoke to the Epoch Times about his journey from incarceration to law school as well as finding his personal and professional passion to help justice involved individuals remove barriers to reentry. Mr. Poulos...