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“Next Generation” of Justice Policy Leaders Gather and Mobilize in Sacramento

2017 Next Generation Fellowship. Back row (left to right): Cristian Franco, Stuart "Andy" Winn, Brayan Pelayo, Daniel Mendoza, Ramon Leija; Front Row: Gabe Rosales, Elias Gonzales, Tina Curiel-Allen, Morghan Vélez Young-Alfaro, Aurora Ruvalcaba, Lita Tangitau.

CJCJ and our partner organization, Motivating Individual Leadership for Public Advancement (MILPA), are pleased to introduce the inaugural class of the Next Generation Fellowship: 11 motivated and accomplished justice policy leaders who are working for systems reform in their communities and across California.

The fellows were selected through a competitive application process that considered their commitment to justice reform and their interest in effecting change through policy advocacy. The fellowship class hails from cities across California, from the Coachella Valley, to the Central Coast, to the San Francisco Bay Area. They brought deep and varied experiences, sharing insights from their work as researchers, students, organizers, and program managers.                                 

In July, the fellows gathered in Sacramento at the offices of The California Endowment for an intensive two-day training. Led by facilitators from CJCJ and MILPA, fellows engaged in a series of workshops and presentations that sought to build an understanding of cultural healing and hone their policy advocacy skills. These activities were rooted in fellows’ personal contact with the justice system, reflecting an understanding that lived experience is a form of expertise that can profoundly influence decision-making.

The fast-paced event featured a reflection on how community safety is defined, a training on key interest groups and decision makers, an overview of the mechanisms for advancing policy change in California, and a discussion of the opportunities and challenges inherent in participating in the justice reform movement. Fellows put their preparation into practice by planning advocacy strategies for a single justice system reform issue and conducting a series of legislative visits with guests from the California Senate and Assembly. During these meetings, fellows shared well-constructed and concise arguments in favor of a policy issue and received feedback and encouragement from the legislative staff.

CJCJ and MILPA asked the NGF fellows for their perspective on the fellowship experience. Brayan Pelayo explained that, “the Next Generation Fellowship has given me concrete skills and confidence plus a state-wide network of ferocious advocates that, when taken together, make a recipe for influencing impactful social change through policy.” In reflecting on her experience, fellow Morghan Vélez Young-Alfaro wrote that the fellowship offered an “integration of a) healing for those with direct experience and b) policy making and movement-building. This is monumental.”

We look forward to the future accomplishments of the Next Generation fellows as they become stronger justice reform leaders, bringing a renewed commitment to racial equity, an understanding of the importance of people power, and a singular focus on ending the dehumanizing and unjust system of mass incarceration.


Related Links

The Next Generation Fellowship

The CJCJ-MILPA Partnership

"Free Our Dreams" and "Quest for Democracy" Highlight Caliofornia's Path to Justice Reform


Keywords: legislation, MILPA, Next Generation Fellowship, policy, reform, Sacramento, Sierra Health Foundation, The California Endowment

Posted in Blog, Political Landscape, Social Justice

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