Betsy ( she/her)
Originally from the Midwest, Betsy moved to Philadelphia after a career teaching young children in both NYC and Pennsylvania. She values the opportunity the hub offers to engage with issues of justice and racial equity that have been compelling to her since adolescence in a direct, person to person way.
The hub also offers the chance, in working with other hub members, to continue to grow in understanding the structures of injustice in our city and country. Betsy is a member of POWER LiveFree and an attender at First Unitarian Church. Her family includes her husband, two grown sons, their beloved partners, and two grandsons.
Dana Lomax-Williams (she/her)
Dana Lomax-Williams is a Wife, Mother, Advocator, Organizer, Motivational Speaker, Educator and a formerly impacted woman.
Dana advocates on many different levels and dimensions. She's passionate about” Being a Voice for the Voiceless''. She's a Core Member of the West Philly Participatory Defense Hub, H.R.C. (Human Rights Coalition), Official Visitor Member of Prison Society, A consultant for the Incarcerated Women's Group with A.C.L.U. (American Civil Liberties Union), C.L.S. (Community Legal Services).
She visits the prisons frequently to let those behind the walls know that they are NOT forgotten and NOT to lose hope. She's the President Of C.A.D.B.I. DelCo (Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration, and supports the other CADBI Chapters in various capacities.
She believes in and advocates for second chances and speaks about the injustices in the judicial, penal and PRISON systems. She was the whistleblower in exposing how the men guards were illegally searching women behind the walls, which was not only against their rights but also violation of their temple. Now today in the State of Pennsylvania men are prohibited from violating “us” women. She has been advocating for the past fifteen plus years, each year matriculating to the next level in her advocacy.
She's C.P.S. And C.R.S. Certified (Certified Peer Specialist), and (Certified Recovery Specialist). It's Dana's life mission to assist those formerly incarcerated, those with mental health issues, and other barriers become and stay self-sufficient providing them resources to ensure their well-being is secure and stable.
Hannah Gann has been a member of the West Philly Participatory Defense Hub since spring of 2019. As someone with loved ones directly impacted by the criminal (in)justice system and a lifelong advocate for real justice, Hannah came to Philadelphia for college with the hopes of one day teaching in a correctional setting.
After interning at the Youth Study Center (which later became the PJJSC), Hannah instead shifted to focusing on educating youth before they become consumed in the system. She taught for three years in rural Rwanda before returning to West Philadelphia, where she remains a teacher to this day (currently at the Workshop School).
Participatory Defense was the perfect way for Hannah to put action behind her passion for prison abolition, community power, and true justice. She is also a member of the Racial Justice Organizing Committee, The Racial Justice Committee at her school, and The First Unitarian Church.
Maya Nojechowicz (she/her)
Maya has been a core member of West Philly Participatory Defense Hub since day one! She joined when the hub started up in August 2018. Maya was drawn to participatory defense because of its values and non-hierarchical structure. It’s a movement that believes every person at the table is the expert of their own experience, has knowledge to contribute to the collective, and that liberation is not possible without community.
Maya is also a member of Human Rights Coalition, works in immigration legal services, and is part of the queer skateboarding community in Philly.
Akeem Sims (he/his)
Akeem is a fierce advocate, with lived experience dealing with the justice system. Using his story to inform, support and empower the community and our loved ones as they navigate the process.
These efforts can only be described as our in house Peer-a-legal, giving valuable insight and perspective to this work.
By his example he is encouraging others that are directly impacted to be the change agents for their families.
He has been providing leadership to the West Philly Hub since its inception, in various roles from facilitator to community outreach. He believes that the model of participatory defense is the practice of community collective problem solving, that each of us has something to contribute to the fight for liberation.
Some of his other organizational involvement includes being a member of the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE), pardon project steering committee. As a pardon applicant, pushing for awareness, increased accessibility and policy change as it relates to the Pennsylvania Pardon process. In recognition of his work he was recently selected for the Gordon J Cooney Fellowship, a partnership between the United Way of Southern Pa & NJ, PLSE and Diversified Community Services.
In this role he will be providing group coaching as well as 1 on 1 consultations to support individuals that are pursuing a pardon. A true reflection of the core values and principles outlined by the participatory defense movement.
Aside from his advocacy work Akeem is passionately pursuing a career in the Accounting field. In his spare time he enjoys reading and spending time with his family!
Shariff Sawyer (he/him)
I wanted to thank u guys for ur support and love. It honestly means more to me than u guys know. I never thought such a great set of reasons and newfound friendships would come out of this situation but I can honestly say that u guys are all roses from concrete.
I’m truly looking forward to fighting the fight, brightening the lights and strengthening bonds with all of u. And thanks to Akeem we have this cool little thing to do in The Hub, we have to put out thumbs over our index finders (not cross them) and say “HUB LOVE!!!” (I look a wreck but don’t pay attention to that 😂)
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