Robert Saleem Holbrook
Robert Saleem Holbrook (he/him) is a board member and the Executive Director of Straight Ahead. He is also the Executive Director of the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC). Prior to being named Executive Director of ALC he was its Director of Community Organizing responsible for expanding ALC into Philadelphia. He also led ALC’s campaigns against Death By Incarceration (Life Without Parole), Solitary Confinement and State Violence. He has worked with Center for Constitutional Rights to end Death By Incarceration sentences in the United and the National Unlock The Box Campaign to End Solitary Confinement. He is a co-founder of the Human Rights Coalition, an organization with chapters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that is composed of family members of prisoners. HRC advocates on behalf of the civil and human rights of prisoners. He is also a co-founder of the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration in Pennsylvania, an advocacy group fighting to end Life without Parole Sentences.
Ashley Jimenez (she/her) is a board member at Straight Ahead and Abolitionist Law Center. She has been a social worker in Philadelphia for over a decade. Her primary area of focus during that time has been medical and homeless/housing case management. She has worked with a wide range of populations, to include the formerly incarcerated and their families. Ashley currently acts as the Director of Case Management/Social Services for Center for Hope, a city funded shelter serving single adult men and women experiencing homelessness. In her position Ashley is responsible for all programmatic endeavors, staff training and oversight and ensuring all compliance for her department.
Rukia Lumumba (she/her) is a board member for Straight Ahead and Abolitionist Law Center. She is a transformative justice strategist, the founding director of the People’s Advocacy Institute, co-director of the Electoral Justice Project of the Movement of Black Lives, and the campaign manager of the Committee to Elect Chokwe Antar Lumumba for Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.
Rukia has spent over 15 years defending the human rights of those inside prison cells, working with community & advocates to alter the landscape of injustice in American courts, prisons and cities. She is currently co-chairing the JXN People’s Assembly to create a community led-governance model that advances and increases people center policy, practice and power.
Rukia holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in international relations from Tougaloo College in Mississippi. She holds a Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. and has studied law and politics in South Africa at the University of Forte Hare and the University of the Western Cape.
Bret Grote (he/him) is a board member for Straight Ahead and the Legal Director of Abolitionist Law Center. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he was recognized as the Distinguished Public Interest Scholar for his graduating class. Bret was also the Isabel and Alger Hiss Racial Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2012.
Dustin Gibson (he/him), a board member for Straight Ahead, is guided by the aspiration, legacies, and pursuit of liberation. He develops he[art]work that embodies a practice of disability justice that can live, build, support and be implemented by marginalized communities to address the nexus between race, class, and disability. He works with grassroots organizations to develop an analysis of ableism and integrate practices to shift the culture of access. He has also taught various courses at middle-schools, high-schools, kid jails, prisons and law schools.
Dustin has worked with all three Centers for Independent Living in the Pittsburgh, PA region and has held positions with both of the national Independent Living organizations. His work has been to end the institutionalization of disabled people and support them in navigating systems to live in their communities with the dignity of risk. He is the Access, Disability and Language Justice Coordinator at PeoplesHub, a Peer Support Trainer with Disability Link in Atlanta, GA and a founding member of the Harriet Tubman Collective
Shandre Delaney (she/her) is a board member for Straight Ahead. She also serves as Secretary for the Abolitionist Law Center. For several years she was a lead organizer with the Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign. She has been an activist since 2008 with the Human Rights Coalition (HRC), a prisoner’s rights group founded by Pennsylvania prisoners and their supporters, and currently leads the Prisoner Justice and Whistleblower Support Campaign to protect prisoners facing retaliatory abuse.
Dustin McDaniel (he/him) is Straight Ahead’s Director of Operations. He is a 2012 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the University of Pittsburgh School of Public and International Affairs. Dustin has led Abolitionist Law Center’s efforts to link the prison abolitionist and environmental justice movements. He was the lead investigator and editor of No Escape, a 2014 report on environmental and health conditions at State Correctional Institution Fayette, as well as a lead organizer and attorney representing ALC in the Barroca v. Bureau of Prisons NEPA lawsuit to stop construction of a $500 million federal prison in Letcher County, KY.
Roxanne Horrell (she/her) is the Campaign Director of Straight Ahead, a startup coming out of the Abolitionist Law Center to run a state-wide legislative campaign to end second degree felony murder and gain parole eligibility for geriatric prisoners in Pennsylvania. Since 2014, Roxanne has worked for the City of Philadelphia, in all three branches of government. In 2014, Roxanne began clerking for the Honorable Edward Wright in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division. During her tenure there, Roxanne was frequently witness to the inherent injustices ingrained in the criminal justice system. From her experience in the Courts, she decided to become involved in policy work, which led her to Philadelphia City Council.
In 2015, Roxanne became the Legislative Counsel to Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell. Her time in Council exposed her to the many complex issues faced by Philadelphians and deepened her knowledge of the legislative process and local politics. In January 2020, Roxanne began to work as a policy analyst for the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission. The work there further enlightened Roxanne to the failings of the criminal justice system and the pressing need for systemic change. Roxanne holds a B.A. in Spanish and Women’s Studies and a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Delaware and a J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law.
David L. Garlock (he/him) is the statewide organizer for Straight Ahead. He is a successful returning citizen, reentry professional, and criminal justice reform advocate. David and his brother received 25-year sentences in Alabama after taking the life of their abuser. A client of Equal Justice Initiative, he was released on parole in 2013 after serving more than 13 years and pursuing several educational opportunities while incarcerated. He subsequently obtained his bachelor’s degree from Eastern University and was the Lancaster Program Director for New Person Ministries, a reentry program for men who have been convicted of sex offenses and other returning citizens, from 2017-2020.
David graduated from JustLeadershipUSA’s Leading with Conviction fellowship program in 2019. He is also a board member for the National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws, Co-Chair of the Board for the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization, and a member of the Pennsylvania Reentry Council, a statewide coalition of county reentry organizations. David enjoys educating the next generation of criminal justice professionals on rehabilitation and advocating in various spheres for an effective and equitable justice system. He is a frequent speaker at colleges and universities, criminal and social justice conferences, and community events, and he appeared in the film Just Mercy (2020). David resides in Coatesville, PA with his family, where they enjoy serving with their local church.
Tyree Little (he/him) brings his organizing experience within prisons to his role as Inside Organizer with Straight Ahead. He was recently released after serving over two decades in the Pennsylvania prison system. While incarcerated Tyree was active in fighting for the rights of other prisoners and ending solitary confinement. He was a member of the Human Rights Coalition supporter of CABDI and was also an executive board member of the MANNUP association which was a program started in SCI Phoenix by a group of men trying to mentor other prisoners teaching them to be better fathers, brothers, husbands etc.
Since Tyree’s release he has been an active member in his community by mentoring young men whom society considers at risk youth. Tyree leads by an example and is very passionate about his continuous fight to end DBI. Tyree has a younger brother Kyle Little who was sentenced to life without parole as a juvenile for a crime in which he is innocent. Tyree is committed to bringing his brother home as well as other people who have been wrongly convicted in this unjust judicial system.
Terri Minor-Spencer (she/her) is the Western PA community organizer with Straight Ahead. She is also the Founder and President of West End P.O.W.E.R., a non-profit organization committed to strengthening communities through activism, advocacy, education, equity, and promoting unity. Terri is a tireless advocate for her community where she works to build unity working closely with returning citizens to reform the Criminal Justice System, participating in job readiness programs, serving as G.E.D. Instructor, and is an advocate for entrepreneurs.
Terri is selfless and relentless in her fight to change what she calls the “old-time machine” that continuously condones criminalization, over-policing, and hyper incarceration in communities of color.” She was awarded the Pittsburgh Courier 2019 Women of Excellence Award, was a finalist for the Jefferson Awards, and in 2014 received a proclamation from the City of Pittsburgh declaring October 7th Terri Minor-Spencer Day for her Advocacy and Community Outreach Volunteerism.
A lifelong Pittsburgh resident, Terri resides in the Sheraden community with her family. She is a member of the White Lily Baptist Church where she serves as Community Outreach Coordinator. She is a graduate of the Emerge PA Cohort, prior board member of the Abolitionist Law Center and MIS (mothers of incarcerated sons). Terri also sits on the committee of The National Council For Women & Girls.
Jennifer Black (she/her) is the Central PA Community Organizer for Straight Ahead and hails from a background in both activism and academia. Shaped by her experiences in the Free Mumia movement and other important initiatives for justice, Black began to understand prison justice as the foundational linchpin for all aspirations towards transformative social change.
Following this recognition, Black attained a Master’s degree in African American Studies and a PhD in Comparative Studies where her research focused on high-risk activism, state terror, criminal (in)justice, police brutality, Black Power, the Free Mumia movement, mass incarceration and social movement theory. Since graduating Black worked as a college instructor at The Ohio State University, and for the non-profit organization Prison Radio doing research, educational support work, and prison outreach. Whether in the street, or meeting hall, a prison visiting room, or the classroom–the focus and commitment is the same: to coordinate, unite, and build on the activism occurring around prison justice issues, to envision an abolitionist future.
Mari Morales-Williams (she/they) is the Healing Justice Advocate with Straight Ahead. Originally from East Harlem and the Bronx, Mari Morales-Williams is a Black and Brown yogi, educator, activist, and grower/herbalist. Based in Philadelphia for the past 14 years, they have directed programs and courses on politicized healing for youth and families within community centers, high schools, and colleges/universities. She is a founding member of the national organization Black Youth Project 100 and their Healing and Safety Council, as well as organizations local to Philly such as TUFF Girls and Educators for Consent Culture. As an internationalist and prison abolitionist, they are committed to helping Black, Brown, and poor communities dismantle root causes of violence while cultivating collective liberation and joy from the inside out.
Ayanna Lyons (she/her) is the Policy Advocate with Straight Ahead. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Philosophy from Rowan University. After receiving her degree, she worked with AmeriCorps NCCC building communities through direct service and disaster relief in the MidWest.
She has also worked for The Petey Greene Program, coordinating and training volunteers to tutor inside NJ prisons. Racial Inequity, Prison Abolition, and Public Policy form the foundation of Ayanna’s work.
Xelba (they/she) is the Political Educator for Straight Ahead. They are a queer, immigrant, community organizer, educator and facilitator made of fierce indignation and gentle compassion. They were born in Venezuela, from revolutionary parents, and spent their formative years between Santiago, Chile and Miami, Florida. After living on the West Coast for some years, Xelba made Philadelphia home where she became increasingly involved in organizing across many issues and earned a master’s degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environmental Justice from UPenn.
Xelba brings a global view, heavily influenced by their South American roots and they are passionate about challenging systems and having hard conversations about decolonizing and unlearning harmful frameworks. They firmly believe that there is a world without prisons and police in our future and is happy to join Straight Ahead to deepen that work.
Madeline Moran (they/them) is the Communications Director for Straight Ahead. With a background in both startup marketing and community organizing, they believe in the power of storytelling to propel mass movements. After moving to Philadelphia they spent several years in grassroots work organizing tenants against their slumlords.
Their writing has appeared in Teen Vogue, Shadowproof and the Philadelphia Partisan. Their advocacy background includes decarceration as well as housing, LGBTQI and disability rights, and they are committed to abolition as the route to justice and freedom.
Amber Black (she/her) brings two decades of fundraising, communications, events, and public relations know-how to her work as Straight Ahead’s Development Director. Her experience is grounded in supporting activists and their families (including US political prisoners), and movements for radical social change.
She believes in the power of combining art + activism, and is especially passionate about the struggles against mass incarceration and for racial justice, immigrants’ rights, civil liberties, and sustainable and equitable foodways and natural resources.
Valerie Kiebala (she/her) is a writer, organizer, and artist and the Director of Media Production at Straight Ahead. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2015, Valerie worked as an editorial manager and staff writer for Solitary Watch, a nonprofit organization documenting and exposing the use of solitary confinement across the U.S. She believes that centering the voices and leadership of incarcerated people in the media and public discourse is integral to crumbling the prison walls and ending the widespread torture that goes on inside. Her work has appeared in the Root, Truthout, the Chicago Reporter, and Shadowproof. And in 2020, she coordinated with incarcerated journalists to run a mock presidential election at San Quentin State Prison for an article in the Guardian.
Al DePiro (they/them) is Straight Ahead’s Administrative Manager. Their previous work in operations and administrative roles enables them to bring experience in bookkeeping, records management, and office management to ALC. Al has been active in prisoner support work since participating in the Inside/Out Prison Exchange Program. They are a part of Pittsburgh area projects, focusing on connecting incarcerated and non-incarcerated people in conversation and community.