Meet Our Team

It’s the season of giving thanks and Civil Survival is very excited to spotlight our very own staff for the months of November & December! Not only would we like to show our gratitude for their dedication but also share with our communities the faces of those responsible for the life-changing work we do. Our work is not possible without our passionate team. They work hard every day to support our formerly incarcerated families & individuals and thanks to them, we are one step closer to a world free from mass incarceration.

Today we are highlighting Kelly (she/her), our Policy Manager and Momma to Sophie, the cutest & happiest little pug you’ll ever meet!

After serving time in prison, Kelly worked hard to rebuild her life through education, community work and of course, healing. She has since used her powerful story to fight for all directly impacted individuals and push for policy change.

Kelly is most proud of her involvement with HB 1078, which restored the voting rights to formerly incarcerated community members in Washington state.

Keep scrolling to learn more about Kelly!

Kelly and Brittany Lovely with Desmond Meade of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

What drew you to working with CSP?

I lived for a long time hiding the fact that I had been to prison because of the shame that I carried and often lived in fear of people finding out about my past mistakes. I limited myself in many areas of my life just because of the fear I carried about my past. Seeing other people talk openly about their past, including the traumas and struggles they faced long before going to prison, helped me realize that I didn’t need to hide anymore. I learned more about the systems created to oppress and marginalize our community and realized how powerful my voice and my story are. I learned that we have the power to break down many of the barriers I struggled so hard alone to overcome. I learned how important it is to fight, and I wanted to be a part of the fight and a part of the change I saw CSP creating.

What event or impactful change are you the most proud of during your time working with Civil Survival? Or, what part of Civil Survival Project’s work resonates the most with you?

I think I am most proud of helping to pass HB 1078, the Voting Rights bill that restored the right to vote to every person living outside the prison walls. It restored the right to vote to over 20,000 of our community members who were out of prison, but still under community supervision and not allowed to vote. I was part of the leadership team at the Washington Voting Rights Restoration Coalition that worked on this bill for two years and was able to work with many others impacted by the legal system to fight to have our voices heard. Considering the racist roots of taking away the right to vote and voter disenfranchisement, this bill was a first step in restoring something that should never be taken away in the first place.

What’s something you’re looking forward to in the future of CSP?

I’m looking forward to seeing CSP grow, especially growing the opportunities for more people who have been harmed by our criminal legal system to be more directly involved in the work we are doing. I am especially interested in seeing us find more opportunities to not only educate people about how and where they can get involved but to increase our funding streams so that we can compensate people while they are learning and compensate their time as they advocate for more change. I’m hoping we can bring back, and revamp, our advocacy fellowship program to include compensation. I am also hoping to see us connect more on a national level with some of the great leaders many of us have been able to connect with throughout the country who are all doing amazing work.

What’s something you’re grateful for within the last year?

This probably won’t surprise anyone, but in addition to becoming a homeowner, I also am now a proud dog mama. Although “grateful” isn’t always the word I use when talking about Sophie and some of her antics, she has brought me a lot of joy and comfort this past year. I’m also very proud to have graduated from JustLeadership USA this last year!

Pictures descriptions: Kelly’s JLUSA Graduation, Kelly with Senator Claire Wilson, and Kelly in Atlanta for Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People & Families Movement (FICPFM) Free the Vote conference.