***Duties of the board of directors include, but are not limited to, governing the organization by establishing policies and procedures, selecting, appointing, supporting and reviewing the performance of the President/CEO, recruiting new board members, making financial donations to the organizations, ensuring the availability of adequate financial resources, securing funds through fundraisers and donations, overseeing all revenues and expenses, strategic planning, and approve annual budgets.
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2019-2020 Board Directors
Waleisah Wilson- President & Treasurer
Waleisah Wilson is the founder of Newlife-Second Chance Outreach, Inc. and serves as the organization's President. She founded the organization after her release from prison in 2011 as a way to address the lack of reentry focused resources needed to assist the formerly incarcerated in the Columbus, GA and Phenix City, AL areas with job readiness skills AND job referral services needed to assist the special population with becoming productive, self-sufficient and successful within their communities.
Despite an unstable childhood that included abuse, neglect, housing instability, parental addiction, homelessness and foster care, she overcame the odds and graduated in the top of her high school's graduating class, receiving a full academic scholarship to Stillman College where she later graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology. She later attended Capella University where, after her incarceration and a brief struggle with housing instability due to having a felony, she overcame the odds again by obtaining a Master's degree in Human Services specializing in Social and Community Services. She later persued and obtained a second graduate degree. She obtained a Master's in Nonprofit Management and Leadership in 2014 from Walden University and in 2015, supplemented it with a post graduate certificate in Criminal Justice. She later plans to pursue her doctorate in either Community Organizing & Advocacy or Public Policy.
Due to feeling the need that there needed to be local AND statewide awareness of reentry and its barriers to self-sufficiency for those with criminal records, in 2016, Waleisah initiated and requested from the city of Columbus and the state of Georgia that July be recognized as Reentry Awareness Month. She and the organization received proclamations from both the city of Columbus and from Georgia's governor, Nathan Deal, solidifying the request, the first of its kind on the local and statewide level.
Because of her humanitarian efforts and outstanding commitment to her community, her advocacy and her efforts to reduce crime in her community, bring awareness on issues that affect her community such as poverty, homelessness, political education, voter registration, equity and equality, she has been the recipient of many awards and recognitions including Metropolitan Baptist Church's annual MLK, Jr. Humanitarian Award (2017), the Dr. Ophelia DeVore Unsung Heroes Award (2017) and AARP's Unsung Heroes Award (2017). She has even received statewide recognition by Georgia Senator, Ed Harbison, by having a Georgia Senate Resolution named in her honor (SR-121). In February 2017, she was also invited to Justice Day 2017 by Georgia Justice Project to speak to Georgia legislators at the capital about the critical need for Georgia to eliminate barriers to self-sufficiency for individuals with criminal records. She has worked on and organized to support local, statewide and national campaigns that supported bail and prison reform, Black Mamas Bailouts, dignity for incarcerated women, the unshackling of pregnant prisoners, poll access and ending voter suppression, reducing mass incarceration, community policing and police accountability. She is often invited to be a guest and panel speaker and regularly facilitates job readiness workshops and coordinates abd organizes reentry focused community events and campaigns. Through her organization, she has been instrumental in assistand hundreds of ex-offenders in finding employment with background friendly employers. In July 2019, she was distinguished with the honor of receiving a proclamation from the Mayor for her persistence and direct involvement in the city of Columbus, GA establishing its first every reentry commission which will operate under the Mayor's office.
She is a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls (NCIFIWG), the National Incarceration Association, JustLeadershipUSA (2017 Cohort), Soutberners On New Ground, the Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN), NAACP, and the ACLU. She is a current cohort member of Southerners On New Ground's, The Lorde's Werq, a year long cohort-based leadership development program for Black Queer, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming organizers and emerging leaders across the south.
She also currently serves on the board of directors of H.O.P.E. (a tiny houses for the homeless project), The Shifting Project, an organization that mentors and empowers children of incarcerated parents and the Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN). She is the President of the Social Concerns and Prison Ministries at her church, Phillips Temple CME, in Phenix City, AL. She enjoys going to church, feeding and socializing with the homeless through outreach, playing games and trivia, traveling, volunteering, youth and adult mentoring, watching movies, cooking and singing karaoke. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA.
Denise Thomas- Secretary & Asst. Treasurer
Denise is a wife and and mother of 3 beautiful children aged 24, 20 and 15. Although a Milwaukee, Wisconsin native and having grown up in Phenix City, Alabama (where she graduated from Central High School in 1995), she currently calls Columbus home.
Andez Jones- Director
Andez Jones is a native of the Phenix City/Columbus area. He regularly boasts of the motivation he receives from his beautiful family of a loving wife and two precious daughters. He holds a degree in Psychology and has worked in several government roles including inpatient mental health settings, facilitated probationer/parolee post-release classes, and served pre-adjudicated youth as an alternative to detention with the Dept. of Juvenile Justice and the Dept. of Family and Children Services. He also assists several local grassroots organizations in crime prevention, urban empowerment, and a myriad of issues affecting our community.
Andez states that his dedication to the mission of NewLife-Second Chance is “rooted in my own struggles with the legal system when I was 17 years old, and the lengthy battle of transitioning back into society”. He believes that his personal life experience enables him to find common ground with those he serves as well as proof that a productive life can be achieved post-release. He asserts that with the exception of his family, one of his top goals is to “reach back and help those navigate a path that I’ve already crossed”.