In 1999, in response to the decimation of college-in-prison nationally, the Bard Prison Initiative was founded by undergraduates at Bard College. After gaining access to the the New York State prison system and securing limited funding, Bard College launched BPI as a pilot program with 16 students in 2001. Since then, the program has grown annually and dramatically. Its first associate degrees were issued in 2005 and the first bachelor’s degrees in 2008.

Today, the BPI college is spread across six interconnected prisons in New York State. It enrolls over 300 students and organizes a host of extracurricular activities to replicate the breadth of college life and inquiry. Since 2001, BPI has issued roughly 50,000 credits and 450 degrees; it offers more than 165 courses per academic year and engages an extraordinary breadth of college faculty.

Extrapolating from the successful establishment of the college, BPI has expanded in multiple directions. First, it is the home of a national Consortium that cultivates, supports, and establishes college-in-prison programs in partnership with colleges and universities across the country. Second, its office of Reentry & Alumni Affairs works with formerly incarcerated Bard students as they pursue robust civic and professional lives after release. Most recently, BPI established the Bard Microcollege to bring full-scholarship, academically rigorous liberal arts college to isolated communities outside of prison. In all its work, BPI builds alliances to rethink access, reduce costs, and redress inequities in higher education.

Distinguished Fellows

Ellen Condliffe Lagemann

A leading scholar in the history of education, Lagemann was President of the Spencer Foundation and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, where she was also the Charles Warren Professor of the History of American Education. Previously she was Professor of History and Education at New York University; Chair of the Department of the Humanities and the Social Sciences and Director of the Center for the Study of American Culture and Education at the School of Education at New York University. Lagemann was also Professor of History and Education and Director at the Institute of Philosophy and Politics of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University; and a Member of the Department of History in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Columbia University. Lagemann is the author or editor of ten books, including most recently What Is College For? The Public Purpose of Higher Education and An Elusive Science: The Troubling History of Education Research, as well as numerous articles, reviews, reports, and book chapters. She has published and spoken extensively in the fields of education, the history of education, and philanthropy over the last thirty years.

She has been president of the National Academy of Education and of the History of Education Society and is a former trustee of the Russell Sage, Greenwall, and Markle Foundations and a former vice-chair of the board of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral and Social Sciences in Stanford, California. She has served as chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Teacher Preparation and president of the board of trustees of Concord Academy, Concord, Massachusetts. She currently serves on the boards of the District Management Council and the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, as well as on the advisory committees for the George Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at NYU and the Fund for Columbia County of the Berkshire Taconic Foundation.

In addition to her role at BPI, Lagemann is the Levy Institute Research Professor at Bard College and a Senior Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute. She holds a Ph.D., with distinction, in History and Education from Columbia University; an M.A. in Social Studies from Teachers College at Columbia University; and an A.B., cum laude from Smith College.

Robert E. Fullilove

Senior Advisor to BPI’s Public Health Program

He is the Associate Dean for Community and Minority Affairs, Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences and the co-director of the Community Research Group at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He also co-directs the newly formed degree program in Urbanism and Community Health in the Mailman School’s Department of Sociomedical Sciences.

Dr. Fullilove has authored numerous articles in the area of minority health. From 1995 to 2001, he served on the Board of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) at the National Academy of Sciences. Since 1996, he has served on five IOM study committees that have produced reports on a variety of topics including substance abuse and addiction, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and damp indoor spaces and health. In 2003 he was designated a National Associate of the National Academies of Science. In 1998 he was appointed to the Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention (ACHSP) at the Centers for Disease Control, and in July, 2000, he became the committee’s chair. Finally, in 2004, he was appointed to the National Advisory Council for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health [NIH].

Dr. Fullilove serves on the editorial boards of the journals Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and the Journal of Public Health Policy. He has twice been awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award at the Mailman School of Public Health, and in May, 2002, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Bank Street College of Education.

Madeleine George

Fellow for Curriculum and Program Development.

From 2006 to 2013, when it closed following Hurricane Sandy, she was Site Director of the BPI campus at Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan. She is also a Faculty Associate at Bard’s Institute for Writing and Thinking. Madeleine has taught at Barnard College, SUNY-Purchase, and New York University, where she was on the faculty of the Expository Writing Program for seven years. As a playwright, Madeleine has received a Whiting Award, the Princess Grace Award, and the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, and was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. She holds an M.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, from Cornell University.

Craig Steven Wilder

Senior Fellow, Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Wilder’s most recent book is Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013). He is also the author of A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000/2001); and In the Company of Black Men: The African Influence on African American Culture in New York City (New York: New York University Press, 2001/2004). His recent essays include: “War and Priests: Catholic Colleges and Slavery in the Age of Revolution,” in Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, eds., Slavery’s Capitalism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016); and “‘Driven . . . from the School of the Prophets’: The Colonizationist Ascendance at General Theological Seminary,” the inaugural essay in the digital journal New York History.

Wilder has appeared in and advised numerous documentaries, including Ken Burns’ “Race Man” (2016), which explores the transformative career of Jackie Robinson; “The Central Park Five,” which received the 2013 Peabody Award; Kelly Anderson’s acclaimed exploration of gentrification, “My Brooklyn”; and Ric Burns’ prize-winning series, “New York: A Documentary History.”

He has taught at Dartmouth College, Williams College, and Long Island University, and has been a visiting professor at the New School University and University College London.

Wilder holds an M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Fordham University.


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Megan Callaghan

Director of College Operations, Academic Faculty

Prior to joining BPI in 2011 she was Visiting Assistant Professor at Bard College for six years, during which time she taught in the Anthropology and First-Year Seminar Programs. Additionally, she has taught at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and for the Bard College Language and Thinking Program. Callaghan’s scholarship focuses on youth, spatial theory, gender, and language politics in Northern Ireland, where she has conducted ethnographic research since 1998. She was a National Science Foundation Fellow and has received research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Callaghan holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan; a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems from Pennsylvania State University; and a B.A. from Princeton University.

Jeffrey Jurgens

Academic Co-Director of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, and BPI Fellow for Anthropology and Social Theory

In 2010 he joined the BPI faculty from Bard College, where he taught for five years in the Anthropology and Middle East Studies programs. Jurgens’ scholarly interests revolve around themes of migration, citizenship, youth culture, and public memory. He specifically focuses on migrants and post-migrants from Turkey in contemporary Berlin, and he has conducted ethnographic fieldwork and language training in Turkey as well. Recent and forthcoming publications include pieces in Policy and Society, Transit, and the edited volume Walls, Borders, and Boundaries. Jurgens has been awarded fellowships and grants from, among others, the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study, IIE Fulbright Program, National Humanities Center, and the National Science Foundation.

In addition to his role at BPI, Jurgens is Associate Fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude from Colorado College.

Gabriel Mendes

Associate Director of Public Health Programs

Gabriel N. Mendes is Associate Director of Public Health Programs at the Bard Prison Initiative. He has held academic positions at Emmanuel College, UC San Diego, and, most recently, Vanderbilt University, where he was Senior Lecturer at the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society. He was also Associate Director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program at Bard College and Director of the Men2B Program at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. Mendes is the author of Under the Strain of Color: Harlem’s Lafargue Clinic and the Promise of an Antiracist Psychiatry (Cornell University Press, 2015), and he is currently writing his second book Through a Glass Darkly: Race and Madness in Modern America.

Mendes holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from Hobart College.

Daniel B. Karpowitz

Director of Policy and Academics, Lecturer in Law & the Humanities at Bard College.

Karpowitz has served as a faculty member, director, and leader of BPI since 2001. He has been responsible for major curricular and academic design and decision-making. Karpowitz was the co-founder of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, an organization dedicated to supporting college-in-prison programs throughout the country. He also works as a higher education and criminal justice policy consultant to develop governmental reform proposals. Karpowitz has written and spoken extensively on criminal justice and the benefits of higher education in prison. He was a Soros Justice Fellow at the Open Society Institute, a Fellow at the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a Fulbright Fellow in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Karpowitz holds a J.D. with Honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was a Public Interest Law Fellow. He also earned a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Max Kenner

Founder and Executive Director

He conceived of and created BPI as a student volunteer organization when he was an undergraduate in 1999. After gaining support of the College and cooperation of New York State Department of Correctional Services, he has overseen the growth of the program into a credit bearing and, subsequently, degree-granting program in 2001. In addition to organization management and program design for BPI, Kenner is responsible for fundraising and management of relations with New York State and the Department of Correctional Services.

Kenner has led the expansion of BPI from a pilot program with 15 students to a nationally recognized education initiative enrolling 300 students within six campuses in correctional facilities throughout New York State. Kenner has become a leading advocate for the national restoration of college-in-prison and frequently speaks publicly in a wide variety of forums about the BPI model in education and criminal justice policy.

Kenner is co-founder of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, which supports colleges and universities in establishing college-in-prison programs in more than 10 states. Partners include Goucher College in Maryland, Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Bennington College in Vermont, Grinnell College in Iowa, Freedom Education Prison Project in Washington, Washington University in Missouri, and Notre Dame University in Indiana, as well as developing partnerships in Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

Kenner serves as Vice President for Institutional Initiatives and Advisor to the President on Public Policy & College Affairs at Bard College. He was a

2013-2014 fellow-in-residence at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. In 2014 Kenner was appointed to serve on Governor Cuomo’s NY State Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration, Re-Entry Subcommittee. In 2016, Kenner received the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award and the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award, and was named to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 40 Under 40. He is also a past recipient of the Manhattan Institute’s Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Education.

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Laura Liebman

Director of Development

Liebman is responsible for overseeing all fundraising initiatives, strategies, and stewardship, including annual and major gifts, and corporate and foundation grants and relations. Liebman also provides strategic development support to the Consortium members and Reentry Program.

Prior to her work with BPI, Liebman has worked as a labor and employment lawyer at Tonkon Torp LLP in Portland, Oregon, and most recently the Major Gifts Officer for Albany Law School, where she was charged with the responsibility of soliciting major gifts, developing alumni programming, and creating innovative fundraising initiatives. While at Albany, Laura successfully increased major gifts from individuals and foundations to the Law School, gifts that led to the creation of new scholarship funds and also helped the Annual Fund reach historic highs.

Liebman holds a M.A. and B.A. from Brandeis, Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude, attended the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, and earned her J.D. from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College with honors.


Delia Mellis

Director of College Writing and Academic Resources

She has been a member of the BPI faculty since 2008 and taught for four years in the Department of Urban Studies at Barnard College. Mellis has written and lectured on race and gender in U.S. history throughout her career. She holds a Ph.D. in United States History from the Graduate Center of City University of New York and a B.A. from Bard College.

Christina Mengert

Assistant Director of College Programs, Site Director at Woodbourne Correctional Facility; Academic Faculty

Mengert has taught literature and writing for the Bard Prison Initiative since 2009. A poet and screenwriter, she received her Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Denver, and her MFA from Brown University in Literary Arts. She is the author of As We Are Sung (2011, Burning Deck) and co-editor of the anthology 12×12: Conversations in Poetry and Poetics (2009, University of Iowa Press). Her poems and essays have been published in over 30 journals and websites, including Boston Review, New American Writing, Tupelo Quarterly, and The Volta. She has written three films, including Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding, and recently produced the independent film, Mahjong and the West.

Mary Anne Myers

Program Director of Bard Microcollege Holyoke

Mary Anne Myers is Program Director of Bard Microcollege Holyoke and a member of the faculty.

Prior to joining Bard Microcollege Holyoke as it welcomed its first students in 2016, Myers was a member of the BPI faculty in grammar and literature. From 2013-2015 she was Assistant Professor of English at the United States Military Academy, West Point. She has also served as a postdoctoral teaching fellow at Fordham University, as an English teaching fellow for the Open Society Institute in Slovenia, and as an English teacher for international students at Baruch College, City University of New York. Myers’s scholarship focuses on British Romantic literature, poetry, gender studies and affect theory. Her career also includes several years on Wall Street, many years as a freelance business writer in New York City, and board service to non-profit organizations.

Myers holds a Ph.D. and B.A. in English from Fordham University, an M.A. in Literature from the University of Virginia, and a certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Baruch College.

Jessica Neptune

Associate Director of National Programs and Director of BPI’s Chicago office

Neptune was an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Public Fellow with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), where she worked on the Obama Administration’s Federal Interagency Reentry Council. Her scholarship is on 20th century American History with a focus on carceral studies, race, and the policies and politics of poverty, addiction, and punishment. She has written for the Journal of the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs and the Journal of Social History and has taught courses on incarceration, race and politics, U.S. 20th century, and the BA Thesis Seminar at the University of Chicago.

Neptune holds a bachelor’s degree from Bard College and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago.

Alex Pearl

Alex Pearl

Academic Resources Coordinator and Site Director, Woodbourne Correctional Facility

Alex Pearl is Academic Resources Coordinator and Site Director for Woodbourne Correctional Facility at the Bard Prison Initiative. He joined BPI in 2014 after serving as a tutor and coordinator for The Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison. He has been involved in a variety of documentary film projects since 2008 and holds a B.A. in Film & Media Studies from University of California, Berkeley.

Radha Radkar Photo

Radha Radkar

Associate Director for BPI-TASC

Radha Radkar is the Associate Director for BPI-TASC, a pre-college, high school equivalency program offered through the Bard Prison Initiative. The program is also an incubator for a teaching fellowship, offered to BPI alumni. She provides fellows ongoing professional development over their six months in the classroom, as well as teacher training workshops at several BPI schools.

Radha previously taught remedial reading and writing at the City University of New York. As an instructor for CUNY Start, she developed a wide range of professional development workshops and materials adapting student-centered, inquiry-based models of teaching. As a former member of the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE), she co-facilitates a working group for adult literacy educators and program administrators across the city. Her writing was featured in a collection of teacher counternarratives, Inside Our Schools: Teachers on the Failure and Future of Education Reform, published by Harvard Education Press in Spring 2017.

Radha holds B.A., summa cum laude and M.A. degrees in English from St. John’s University.

David Register

Director of Debate, Faculty Fellow

Prior to joining BPI, Register spent six years coaching debate and teaching courses in rhetoric, argumentation, and public speaking at the University of Vermont. He has trained students in argumentation and debate across the United States and Europe, and currently co-directs the Bard Debate Union and teaches public speaking at Bard College. He holds an M.S. from the University of North Texas and a B.F.A. from Emporia State University.

Linda M. Steubesand

Program Associate

Steubesand is responsible for office management, and coordinating and organizing program details at all levels. She has had many years of experience in administrative support for non-profit and other organizations. She holds a B.A. from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jed B. Tucker

Director of Reentry and Alumni Affairs.

Tucker served previously as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Bard College and as an Adjunct Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, as well as the Fellow for Teaching and Research at BPI. Tucker has conducted research, written, and lectured about college-in-prison and its effects, and he has been a member of the BPI faculty since 2003. He holds a Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology from Teachers College, Columbia University, an M.A. in Anthropology from Columbia University, and a B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Robert Tynes

Site Director for Eastern Correctional Facility, Academic Faculty.

Tynes is also a Faculty Associate at the Bard College Institute for Writing & Thinking. Tynes has taught political science courses at the State University of New York (SUNY)-Albany and SUNY-New Paltz, and he teaches writing for the Language and Thinking Program at Bard College. His research focuses on child soldiers, political violence, African politics, the political economy of oil in Africa and American foreign policy. Before coming to BPI, Tynes served as the Research Director for the Project on Violent Conflict in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at SUNY-Albany. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from SUNY-Albany, an M.A. in communications from the University of Washington and a B.F.A. from New York University.

Joe Vallese

Site Director at Taconic Correctional Facility, Academic Faculty

Before joining BPI, he taught for seven years in the Expository Writing Program at New York University. Vallese is co-editor of a collection of contemporary fiction, poetry, and essays titled What’s Your Exit? A Literary Detour through New Jersey. A finalist for the 2012 Pushcart Prize, he also received a notable mention in Best American Essays 2012. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New York University, an M.A.T. in Literature and Writing from Bard College, and a B.A. from Bard College.

Amanda Vladick

Site Director for Green Haven Correctional Facility, Academic Faculty

Since 2007, she has also taught English and writing at Marist College and the Culinary Institute of America. Amanda is a magazine columnist and assistant editor, and she has published a number of articles, essays, and short stories. She holds an M.F.A in creative writing from Stony Brook and a B.A. magna cum laude from Marist College.

Pamela J. Wallace

Site Director at Coxsackie Correctional Facility, Academic Faculty

She has taught drawing, sculpture, and contemporary art seminars at SUNY New Paltz since 1999, as well as at other colleges and workshop venues. An accomplished sculptor, her work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, has been recognized with grants and awards, and is included in collections around the world. Wallace is currently represented by the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY. She holds an M.F.A. from Southern Illinois University and a B.A. from Bard College.