BPI Staff Biographies

Past Workshop Leaders of the BPI Summer Residency

Megan Callaghan

Megan Callaghan

A cultural anthropologist whose scholarship and teaching focuses on Northern Ireland, Megan Callaghan is Dean for BPI. She was hired from the Bard faculty to lead BPI’s academic administration. Since 2011, she has worked with colleagues to add and expand degree programs across seven New York State prisons, developed partnerships with community-based institutions to create the Bard Microcolleges, and introduced the BardBac, a full-scholarship pathway for students to complete degrees on the main campus of Bard College. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Headshot of Dr. Baz Dreisinger

Kathyrn Cox

Kate is Director of Development for the Bard Prison Initiative and has been with BPI since 2019. Prior to BPI, Kate worked as Capacity Building Advisor for the New York Council on Nonprofits and spent many years supporting community and national public radio and other story-telling endeavors. Kate completed a Masters in Social Work from Tulane University in 2017 and has 2 decades of experience across the non-profit sector- in philanthropy, capacity building, strategic planning, and project management. Kate lives in Rhinecliff, NY with her husband and son.

Amy Cox Hall

Amy Cox Hall is the Assistant Dean for BPI. Prior to joining BPI in 2022, she taught at Amherst College and University of North Carolina – Charlotte. A writer and anthropologist with specializations in Peru and the U.S., her research focuses on national heritage, photography, science, race, and most recently food. She is the author of Framing a Lost City: Science, Photography and the Making of Machu Picchu (University of Texas, 2017; Spanish translation, IEP, 2020) and editor of The Camera as Actor: Photography and the Embodiment of Technology (Routledge, 2020). Her second book, The Taste of Nostalgia: Women, Race and Culinary Longing in Peru, will be published by University of Texas Press in fall 2023.

Headshot of Dr. Baz Dreisinger

Baz Dreisinger

Baz Dreisinger is Senior Advisor for BPI’s Global Initiatives and is the Founding Executive Director of Incarceration Nations Network, a global network that promotes prison reform and justice reimagining worldwide. She is a Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York; the founder of John Jay’s groundbreaking Prison-to-College Pipeline program, which provides university-level education and reentry assistance to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people throughout New York State; the author of the critically acclaimed book Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World, named a notable book for 2016 by the Washington Post; and the director of Incarceration Nations: A Global Docuseries, which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival 2021. She earned her Ph.D. in English from Columbia University, specializing in American and African-American studies.

LePerry Fore ’13

LePerry Fore is a graduate of Bard Prison Initiative. He obtained a dual Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Social Studies and played an integral part in starting and running the BPI debate team. Fore was released from prison in 2022, and now works as a seventh-grade math teacher at Roosevelt’s Children Academy. He is also a guest speaker for BPI’s ConnectED workshops where he helps BPI students who are released from prison maximize their experience in the workshop and take full advantage of the technology information. In August, he will begin pursuing his Master’s of Public Health at Columbia University. LePerry is a strong advocate for education and what it can do to change people’s lives. Therefore, his life purpose is bringing education to the underserved and breaking through the barriers, personal and social, that may prevent the underserved from receiving and taking advantage of quality education

Madeleine George

Madeleine George

Madeleine George is Director Admissions and has worked with BPI since 2006. She was the Site Director of the Bard program at Bayview Correctional Facility from 2006 until its closing in 2012, collaborated on the development of BPI’s writing and grammar curriculum, and helped launch all three Microcollege campuses, as well as the Bard Bacalaureate. She holds a B.A. from Cornell, and an MFA from NYU.

Jeffrey Jurgens

Jeff Jurgens is Continuing Associate Professor of Anthropology at Bard College and Faculty Chair of the Bachelor’s Degree Program in the Bard Prison Initiative. He is also the faculty lead for the OSUN network collaborative course A Lexicon of Migration, which has been taught at Bard College Annandale, Bard College Berlin, Al-Quds Bard, and the American University of Central Asia since 2019. He specializes in topics related to migration, citizenship, public memory, urban space, and secularism among people of Turkish backgrounds in Berlin. More recently, he has examined the cultural and affective politics of “refugee crisis” in Germany and Europe since 2015. His publications have appeared in journals like Policy and Society, Transit, and Turkish-German Studies Yearbook as well as the edited volumes After the Imperialist Imagination (2020), Different Germans, Many Germanies (2017) and Walls, Borders, Boundaries (2012). Prior to his arrival at Bard, Jurgens received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan and taught at Pitzer College.

Natalia Guzman Solano

Natalia Guzmán Solano is a faculty fellow and assistant director of admission at Bard Microcollege in New York City.She is an activist-scholar who envisions knowledge production as a collaborative practice. Natalia is the granddaughter of Argenides Rosso de Solano and on her paternal side she comes from the line of Bertilda Franco. She lives on Canarsie Lenape territory in what is otherwise known as Queens, NY. In her scholarship, Natalia implements transdisciplinary methodological approaches as a way toward reparative justice in the academy. Natalia has used testimonio as an indispensable entry into decolonizing anthropological knowledge. This work largely focuses on themes of gender and water protection in the fraught extractive economies of north highland Peru. Natalia earned a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis.

Sayra Havranek

Sayra Havranek is the Assistant Director of Institutional Advancement at the Bard Prison Initiative. A creative copywriter and development professional with a knack for decoding a brand’s DNA to identify and amplify its voice and image across platforms, Sayra has more than a decade of experience across the public and private sectors. She recently completed a Master’s of Public Administration at Marist College, where she also earned a bachelor’s of professional studies and graduated summa cum laude. Sayra is a member of the Pi Alpha Alpha and Alpha Chi academic honor societies and an active volunteer with numerous New York City-based social justice organizations.

Hannah Henry

Hannah Henry ’19

Hannah Henry is BPI’s Data & Research Assistant and Academic Advisor for the Biology Concentration while also tutoring and providing operations support at Eastern Correctional Facility. She graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in biology and public health.

John Henson ’21

John Henson is a graduate of the Bard Prison Initiative. He was released in 2022 after serving 25 years in New York State Correctional Facilities. While incarcerated, John was one of the first incarcerated hospice aides to sit with terminally ill men, which he continued to do for sixteen years. His senior project focused on Canada’s Indian Residential Schools and served as the lens to understanding historic trauma and potential paths towards healing. John is also a BPI Public Health Fellow, where he is focusing on the development of a mentorship program between formerly incarcerated individuals and military personnel. John is currently the Director of Business Development at Mosaic Clinical Services where he is able to use his passion to help others and his love for business to ensure equal access to the latest evidenced based trauma treatment. John lives in Columbia County with his wife and daughter and enjoys spending time with his family and their pets.

Demetrius James ’17

Demetrius James is Program Director at the Bard Microcollege for Just Community Leadership in Harlem, and an actor, writer, and educator who was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. After studying literature and the humanities, his interest in agriculture in urban areas was piqued after working in the Bard garden at Fishkill Correctional Facility.

Madhu Kaza

Madhu Kaza

Madhu Kaza was the Founding Program Director of Bard at Brooklyn Public Library. A Senior Faculty Associate of the Institute for Writing & Thinking at Bard, she holds an M.Phil in Comparative Literature from NYU and a BA in English Literature from the University of Michigan. A writer, editor and translator as well as an educator, her work has recently appeared in The Yale Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and in the current issue of Gulf Coast, for which she edited a feature on writing from less-translated languages. She is writing a book on landscape, race, immigration, poetry and art titled Vale of Cashmere.

Max Kenner

Max Kenner ’01

Max Kenner is the founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative. A leading advocate for the restoration of college-in-prison, Kenner is also co-founder of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, and Bard Microcollege, which establishes rigorous, tuition-free college opportunity within urban areas in partnership with community-based Institutions. At Bard College, Kenner serves as Vice President for Institutional Initiatives and Advisor to the President on Public Policy & College Affairs. He has served on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York State Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration since its inception. He holds a B.A. in Historical Studies from Bard College.

James Kim

James Kim ’21

Having previously worked as Lead Tutor and Student Recruitment Specialist and Program Coordinator, James is currently Program Director with the Bard Microcollege at the Brooklyn Public Library. After serving a twenty year sentence in prisons throughout New York State, James was released from incarceration in 2020. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2021 through the Bard Prison Initiative upon successful completion of his senior project titled: The Myth of Immigrant America and the Federalization of Immigration Control. Inspired by his experience with education in carceral settings, James believes in expanding access to quality education to overlooked and marginalized populations, and is deeply committed to addressing inequality and inequity in the current landscape of higher education in the United States.

Claire Lindsay

Claire Lindsay ’21

Claire Lindsay is Tutoring and Academic Resources Coordinator for BPI, where she supervises the peer tutors from Bard’s Annandale Campus who offer academic support across BPI’s six facilities. In addition, Claire tutors writing and orchestrates the delivery of books and academic materials. Originally from Decatur Georgia, Claire graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in psychology and a focus on child development and youth incarceration.

Delia Mellis

Delia Mellis ’86

Delia Mellis is Associate Dean of the Bard Prison Initiative. A historian of race and gender in the United States, she has been a member of the BPI faculty since 2008 and joined its administration in 2011. An Associate of Bard’s Institute for Writing and Thinking, Delia holds a Ph.D. in United States History from the CUNY Graduate Center and a B.A. from Bard College. Her recent publications include a chapter in the edited volume Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics, and Memory (University of Georgia Press, 2017).

Jessica Neptune

Jessica Neptune ’02

Jessica Neptune is Director of National Engagement and leads BPI’s Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison. She founded the Women’s College Partnership at the Indiana Women’s Prison. As an ACLS Public Fellow, she served as a policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with the Obama Administration’s Federal Interagency Reentry Council, co-leading interagency working groups on Children of Incarcerated Parents and Incarcerated Women. She holds a B.A. from Bard College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in American History from the University of Chicago. Her scholarship is on the making of the carceral state and the policies and politics at the nexus of race, poverty, addiction, and punishment.

Andrés Pletch

Andrés Pletch

Andrés Pletch is Faculty Advisor to the BA Program for the Bard Prison Initiative. He teaches classes on Caribbean and Latin American history, as well as core-curriculum classes, such as First-Year Seminar and the Major Seminar in Social Studies. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Zach Schwartz-Weinstein

Zach Schwartz-Weinstein

Zach Schwartz-Weinstein is BPI’s site director for Woodbourne. He has a PhD in American Studies from NYU and is writing a book about the history of university labor.

Dyjuan Tatro

Dyjuan Tatro ’18

Dyjuan Tatro is the Senior Government Affairs Officer for BPI, and a legal reform advocate and strategist who has worked to bridge the gap between policy and practice. As an alumnus of Bard Prison Initiative, Dyjuan has leveraged his education and experience to shift public policy in favor of expanding college-in-prison. He has worked on successful, social impact campaigns in favor of Pell restoration at the national level and restoration of Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grants in New York State along with other reforms at the municipal, state, and federal levels. He is an active member of the Fortune Society’s Board of Directors and serves as the Senior Adviser of Strategic Outreach at the DCCC, working on a number of issues at the nexus of politics, diversity, equity, and inclusion. He holds a BA in Mathematics from Bard College.

Jed Tucker

Jed Tucker

Jed B. Tucker is founding and current Director of Reentry & Research Scholar at the Bard Prison Initiative. A member of the BPI faculty since 2003, Tucker is an anthropologist who has researched, written, and lectured about college-in-prison and its effects post-release. His publications include an article in the Journal of African American History titled, “Malcolm X, the Prison Years: The Relentless Pursuit of Formal Education” (2017). He previously taught anthropology on the main campus of Bard College and at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Tucker 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

Robert Tynes

Robert Tynes is BPI’s Director of College-in-Prison Operations and a member of the faculty. He is a political scientist whose research focuses on child soldiers, African politics, online activism, hate as a political dynamic, and the effects of college-in-prison. He is also a faculty member of the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Bard. His book, Tools of War, Tools of State, examines how governments and opposing forces utilize children as a tactical innovation in conflict. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from SUNY-Albany, an M.A. from the University of Washington, and a B.F.A. from New York University.

Nikko Vaughn

Nikko Vaughn ’15

Nikko Vaughn is Associate Director of Education and Professional Advancement. In this role, he oversees and manages programs and activities related to students and alumni pursuing higher education and their chosen career in New York City and beyond. In addition, Nikko holds a joint position with the CUNY Baccalaureate for Interdisciplinary Studies (CUNY BA) at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he ensures a holistic approach to college counseling, helping students navigate the admissions process. To date, Nikko’s efforts have resulted in over 80 students completing their undergraduate, graduate, and professional education. Before this role, Nikko was BPI’s first TASC Teaching Fellow and helped to launch the BPI-TASC college prep program. Nikko earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Theory and History with significant coursework in advanced mathematics from Bard College. His senior project is on African American political activism was entitled The Formulation of a Black Polis: The Reimagining and Remobilization of Black Political Power.

Amanda Vladick

Amanda Vladick

Amanda M. Vladick has been teaching writing classes with BPI since 2009 and has been a site director since 2011. She currently directs the campuses at Green Haven and Taconic.

Pamela Wallace

Pamela Wallace

Pamela J Wallace ‘87 started teaching with BPI in the Fall of 2012, and the following year she joined the team as the BPI Site Director at Coxsackie Correctional. She teaches Drawing and Art History, and is the Academic Advisor to the cohort at Coxsackie. An artist as well as an educator, Pamela shows her work nationally, and keeps up a regular studio practice. She previously taught at SUNY New Paltz, Mount Holyoke College, Columbia Greene Community College, and Dutchess Community College. A former Bard student herself, she earned her B.A. focusing in Sculpture, and holds an M.F.A. from SIU Carbondale.

Alicia Williams

Alicia Williams

Alicia Williams is Assistant Director of Community Support & Relations, a role that serves as an advocate for BPI alumni and assists individuals to navigate challenging institutions such as the DMV, HRA, and SSA. She assisted alumni to access limited resources during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and thereafter. Alicia also teaches the wellness section of BPI’s six-week ConnectED workshop which includes mindfulness practices, identifying signs of burnout, and techniques to improve overall well-being. She assists alumni with mental health therapy, primary care doctors, and domestic violence resources as needed. Alicia is dedicated to establishing and maintaining healthy relationships with alumni to increase their comfort to reach out for help during unexpected crises or events where support may be needed. Alicia’s work is primarily focused in NYC, where she works with alumni who have recently returned home and with particular attention to improving resources for women. She brings with her significant professional experience in this area, most recently from her work with the Women’s Project at Fedcap where she worked with women leaving Rikers Island. Alicia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Social Work from New York University.

Jamar Williams

Jamar Williams is newer to the BPI team, but not to the world of prison reentry. He bring over a decade of experience operating within prison walls to his position as Lead Reentry Advisor. Jamar believes that one of the wealthiest places in the United States is our prison system. Within its bars are the ideas and dreams of individuals just waiting to be realized and released into our world. Jamar has taken his enthusiasm and wisdom to campuses and conferences to advise others in reentry matters.

Joe Williams

Joe Williams

Joseph (Joe) Williams, LCSW works in a Psychiatric ER, is the Program Coordinator of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative at Martin Van Buren High School, and is contracted with BPI’s Reentry Program to provide Mental Health Outreach services. Joe grew up in the Brownsville/East New York sections of Brooklyn. He received his B.A. from Bard College’s Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) in 2013, and then completed his Masters of Social Work at Columbia University (CUSSW). Joe honed his therapeutic approach and clinical skills working in a variety of institutional and community settings including: Brooklyn Defender Services, Davita & Fresenius dialysis centers, various NYC DOE public high schools, Mount Sinai Hospital Systems’ mobile crisis team and Psychiatric EDs, and as an Independent Contractor and Psychotherapist on Hello Alma. Joe has over a decade of experience providing trauma-informed therapy, counseling, and success mentoring to individuals, families, youth & adolescents from all walks of life.

Shawn Young

Shawn Young ’19

Shawn Young is the Co-founder of All Of Us Community Action Group, a Black-led grassroots organization and the Upstate Reentry Coordinator for Bard Prison Initiative(BPI), a program of Bard College that provides college education to people in prison and offers a network of support upon their return to the community. Shawn’s experience includes community organizing, activism, and advocacy. Currently, Shawn is an integral member of the community leadership of the Greater Capital Region, which demands that Black Lives Matter, and calls for an end to police brutality and state-sanctioned violence. As the co-founder of All Of Us, Shawn has led civil actions, community conversations, and facilitated the leadership development of young people throughout the Capital Region.

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