The world as we know it for Black America is about to change right before our very eyes! It was announced today that Shaka Senghor was made the new executive director for ARC.
The history on who ARC is and how they began….
While ARC was founded in 2013, its roots can be traced back to 2003, when founder Scott Budnick first stepped into Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall. At the time, Scott worked in the film industry as Executive Vice President of Green Hat Films, where he produced numerous successful comedies, including The Hangover series. A friend in the industry invited Scott to attend a writing workshop at the juvenile hall through the InsideOUT Writers (IOW) program.
Scott sat alongside incarcerated youth in the Compound, including some as young as 15 years old, who were facing adult prison sentences. One boy was facing more than 200 years in prison. In their writings, he learned of the terrible decisions they had made, but also of their childhoods, marked by trauma, violence, and neglect. That day, Scott committed to mentoring incarcerated youth, and has since conducted regular writing classes in the facility.
Over the years, as Scott’s students were released from juvenile halls and prisons across California, he witnessed many of them returning to incarceration, unable to overcome the challenges of reentry due to the lack of community and support that led them into the system in the first place.
ARC began as an annual camping trip bringing together a few dozen formerly incarcerated young people with positive mentors to offer encouragement, guidance, and resources. Today, the Coalition has grown into a support and advocacy network of more than 450 members, and hundreds of volunteer mentors and allies, committed to helping one another through reentry and advocating for a fairer criminal justice system.
April 24, 2018
Dear ARC Friends and Allies,
(ARC) Over the last year, as our organization planned for the transition of our Founder Scott Budnick, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) has undergone an extensive and thoughtful search to identify its next Executive Director. With guidance from our outstanding Board of Directors, ARC worked with Koya Leadership Partners and gathered valuable insight and direction from its staff and formerly incarcerated members to find a candidate who is committed to ARC’s values of redemption, social justice, and empowerment of system-connected individuals. ARC’s Board and staff are thrilled to announce Shaka Senghor as its new Executive Director.
Shaka is a gifted artist, a passionate leader, and a strategic advocate for criminal justice reform. He possesses a deep and unyielding compassion for the men, women, children, families, and communities who have been impacted by the juvenile and criminal justice systems, grounded in his own experience of having spent 19 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections. He has shared his story, both in his New York Times best-selling memoir “Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison” and in news articles, television pieces, and lectures around the world, including through TED Talks and Google Zeitgeist. In doing so, Shaka has contributed to our understanding of the inner workings of the U.S. prison system and the changes that need to take place in order for those who become involved in it to reach their fullest potential.
Formerly the Director of Strategy and Innovation at partner #cut50, Shaka has helped lead several successful criminal justice reform campaigns to reduce the prison population and improve community health. Van Jones, President and Co-Founder of #cut50 and Founder of The Dream Corps, Rebuild the Dream, Green For All, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change says, “We at the Dream Corps were proud to be able to hire Shaka soon after he came home. He has been an integral part of our team, helping us to build #cut50 into a national force. We know that his contributions to ARC will be equally profound. We look forward to continuing to collaborate in every way we can to end the scourge of mass incarceration.”
Shaka is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2017 Rev. Cecil Williams Legacy Award, 2016 EBONY Power100, 2016 Ford Man of Courage, 2016 NAACP Great Expectations Award, 2015 Manchester University Innovator of the Year, and 2012 Black Male Engagement (BMe) Leadership Award. He was recently recognized by the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) as a Soul Igniter in the inaugural class of the SuperSoul 100, a dynamic group of trailblazers whose vision and life’s work are bringing a higher level of consciousness to the world around them and encouraging others to do the same.
Shaka was a 2014 TED Prize finalist for The Atonement Project. He is a MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow alumnus, and former Fellow in the inaugural class of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. He has taught at the University of Michigan and shares his story of redemption around the world. He is the father of two adult children who live in his hometown of Detroit and a six-year-old son, Sekou, who lives with him in Los Angeles.
Shaka has shared with great exuberance his forward-thinking vision as the newest member of the ARC family: “It’s an honor to lead an organization that works tirelessly on behalf of system-impacted men, women, and children, to ensure they return home healthy, whole, and employable. I am looking forward to helping grow ARC’s programs, continuing the leadership development of its members, and working closely with our partners to transform the system and create safer communities.”
Shaka’s appointment as Executive Director is particularly exciting for ARC’s formerly incarcerated staff members. ARC’s Inside Coordinator Jose Gonzalez shared, “The fact that the title ‘Executive Director’ and ‘formerly incarcerated’ can be in the same sentence describing one person, gives those of us with similar experiences hope.”
ARC’s Director of Inside Programming, Sam Lewis, added, “It’s really great that the next Executive Director of ARC is a formerly incarcerated person. This definitely demonstrates that our organization believes in the leadership of the men and women we serve.” In mid-May, ARC Founder Scott Budnick will transition to serve as full-time President and Chief Executive Officer of Good Films, a film and television production company focused on developing projects that promote social change through coordinated advocacy and action campaigns. While Good Films will develop projects that highlight a range of social issues, its first project will be the film adaptation of Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” in partnership with Warner Bros.
“We couldn’t have asked for a more capable, inspiring leader to take over the role of Executive Director,” says Founder Scott Budnick of Shaka. “Shaka is a powerful advocate for criminal justice reform, and with first-hand experience of the system, he brings a deep understanding of this work. I’m confident that he will guide our organization in fulfilling our mission and create new opportunities for the men and women we serve. ARC is incredibly lucky to have Shaka at the wheel.”
We are thrilled to welcome Shaka to the ARC family and look forward to continuing our work of changing lives and creating safer, healthier communities together.
In spirit and gratitude,
The Anti-Recidivism Coalition