WE ARE IN A NATIONAL RECKONING.
We are in the midst of a national reckoning over crime and punishment, and what it will take to achieve public health and safety. Yet for decades, lawmakers and the media have overlooked the perspective, voice, and expertise of those closest to mass criminalization. As a result, misinformation spreads, fear wins out over reason, and the status quo prevails.
ZEALOUS AIMS TO RIGHT THIS HISTORIC IMBALANCE.
ZEALOUS WORKS WITH PUBLIC DEFENDERS, ADVOCATES, AND PEOPLE WITH DIRECT EXPERIENCES TO HARNESS:
Identify key allies and build trust to fight together.
Use multi-dimensional strategies to change laws.
Harness new tools to raise awareness and drive action.
Work with journalists to share the injustices we see.
Propel policy change with video, web, data, technology, and art.
Command language to disrupt the status quo.
Communicate experiences for maximum impact.
Zealous listens and supports. We don’t “empower” or “give voice.” We provide opportunities for local partners to grasp their power and find the voice they always have had.
Zealous doesn’t invite ourselves into local jurisdictions or coalitions. We are always invited to do the work.
At Zealous arts are integral to this work and our process. Artists are not just hired guns. They are partners from the very beginning.
Given the half-century of fearmongering media, press, and politics that has driven mass incarceration, we don’t downplay the power of awareness.
Collaborative Advocacy means working intentionally and meaningfully in partnership on initiatives, in recognition of the fact that how we work matters as much as the work itself.
Executive Director & Founder
For nearly a decade, Scott served as a public defender in Brooklyn, representing people charged with crimes who couldn’t afford an attorney, but also long shared his perspective as a public defender outside of court in a variety of media to shift the narrative and drive systemic change.
While practicing, Scott co-founded the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, which freed thousands of people caged pretrial solely because they couldn’t afford to buy their freedom. After years of practice, Scott was appointed Director of Policy leading creative defender advocacy, as well as design and implementation of multiple new media advocacy films and campaigns, including We Have Rights (immigration nationally), Justice is Blindfolded(laws that allowed prosecutors to withhold evidence in New York), Power of Prosecutors (national Get Out the Vote effort for DA races); and Perpetual Punishment (collateral consequences nationwide).
Scott founded and now Executive Directs Zealous to build on the successes of the model developed at Brooklyn Defender Services and the promise of non-traditional legal advocacy, media and movements for defenders, social justice leaders, communities, and artists. Scott speaks widely, lectures at law schools and universities, advises companies and organizations on criminal justice media projects and campaigns, and his work and commentary are regularly featured in a range of major national and local outlets. Scott serves as Lecturer-In-Law at Columbia University Law School.
Deputy Executive Director
Deputy Executive Director
Demetrius is a father, husband, community organizer, public speaker, prison advocate, and artist. Demetrius' work has been featured in prison art exhibits throughout Michigan. While living in Michigan, Demetrius worked with campaign development, direct prison advocacy, collaboration efforts, and restorative practices. He worked directly with incarcerated citizens utilizing his own experience through his successful navigation of the commutation process in Michigan. In his role as Deputy Executive Director at Zealous, Demetrius will lead the administration, programs, and strategic plan of the organization. He will also direct on-the-ground projects and partnerships, leading internal development, culture, and support efforts for the Zealous team.
Crystal is an attorney, social media strategist, and social justice advocate. Prior to Zealous, Crystal worked on indigent defense cases in Oregon, provided legal support to protesters, and developed social media strategies to amplify justice issues and shift the narrative on how they are discussed. As Managing Director, she leads Zealous’s multi-disciplinary work across the country with social justice practitioners, people directly impacted by the criminal legal system, organizers, and artists working to end mass criminalization. Crystal is also a member of the Oregon Justice Resource Center’s Lawyers’ Committee, which provides amicus assistance to cases in Oregon that present significant social justice issues.
Director of Defender Initiatives
Director of Defender Initiatives
Alexz has spent her legal career serving as a public defender in New York City and Detroit. During her time as a public defender, she also played an integral role in a number of projects outside of the courtroom which include Know Your Rights training for both New York immigrant communities and also for Detroit youth, educating on Certificates of Relief from Civil Disabilities for those directly impacted, advocating for discovery reform in Albany, New York, and promoting data integrity in public defender office settings.
As Director of Defender Initiatives, Alexz serves as the point-person for public defender offices in which Zealous is working to establish internal processes, policies and training on non-traditional advocacy. She also collaborates with the organization's communications practice to amplify public defender voices, co-develops and co-teaches law school curriculum and supervises law school clinical projects.
Director of Media Advocacy
Olayemi Olurin is a movement lawyer, political commentator, writer, and abolitionist thinker. Olurin is Bahamian Nigerian, and was born and raised in Nassau, The Bahamas, where she lived until she moved to America in 2008. She received her JD from St. John’s University School of Law and her BA from Ohio University where she studied Political Science, African American Studies; and Law, Justice & Culture. Olurin is a public defender at The Legal Aid Society in NYC, where she represents people who cannot afford representation, who unfortunately and uncoincidentally, make up the vast majority of the people churned through the criminal system. Olurin educates people about systemic racism, abolition, and why we should divest from the prison industrial complex. She’s a prominent voice in the movement to decarcerate and close Rikers, an infamous pre-trial detention center in NYC where 18 people have died in the last year. She’s been published in Teen Vogue, The Grio, NewsOne, and appeared on many media outlets like The Hill, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, iHeartRadio, NPR, Yahoo News, VOA News, Brut Media, BNC, The Real News Network, The Law & Crime Network, and more. She releases essays monthly on olurinatti, where she critically analyzes different issues of our time.
As a Public Defender, Olayemi believes that advocacy must extend beyond the courtroom if we want to shift social consciousness and create real change. Olayemi takes that perspective into her role as Director of Media Advocacy where she works with advocates and movements to support their messages.
Regional and Prison Program Director
Jacqueline “Jacq” Williams is a mother, organizer, birth worker, and abolitionist. She is the co-founder of the Michigan Prison Doula Initiative and consults as a strategist with several campaigns against isolation and confinement, including the Open MI Door Campaign and the Federal Anti-Solitary Task Force. As Prison Program Director for Zealous, Jacq designs curriculums, immersive programs, and expansive arts/advocacy projects with people inside prisons.
As Regional Director, Jacq works with local partners to envision and support impactful campaigns and projects that serve the community. After spending years as an environmental justice organizer, she is now a homesteader living reciprocally on a small piece of land in Michigan.
Design and Experiences Manager
Pallavi is an multidisciplinary designer with a robust background in Architecture. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art with a specialization in Strategic Branding and Environmental Graphic Design, she emphasizes conceptual design thinking to create experiences that promote user interaction and understanding.
At Zealous, she is leading the design team creative visual and experience design across national and local campaigns, events and trainings, on and offline media advocacy, and technical support initiatives across the country.
Local Organizing Lead
Local Organizing Lead
Tanya Lozano is a self-proclaimed struggle kid, organizer, community architect, Chicago Magazine’s Chicagoan of the year 2020, Redcross hero for social justice impact 2021, cook county awardee of the excellence in youth community outreach 2021, and above all mother of 2 bi-racial children. Lozano wakes up every day ready to serve. Niece of Slain latino activist, Rudy Lozano, daughter of Immigration Activist Emma Lozano and Chicago activist Reverend Slim Coleman.
Tanya is the lead Chicago Organizer for Zealous, founder and CEO of Healthy Hood Chicago, member of the We Got Us coalition, the west side United community advisory council, the Southwest environmental Justice alliance and the pilsen faith table initiative.
Senior Associate of Storytelling and Local Organizing
Senior Associate of Storytelling and Local Organizing
Asia Johnson is a writer, storyteller, and filmmaker who has worked with several organizations in the criminal justice reform space, including The Bail Project, cut50, Shakespeare in Prison, Prison Creative Arts Program, Hamtramck Free School, and the Michigan Prison Doula Initiative. Asia is a 2019 Right of Return Fellow, 2019 Room Project Fellow, and 2021 Brennan Center for Justice Fellow. Her Chapbook, An Exorcism, was released in 2018 and her upcoming directorial debut, Out of Place, will be released in 2022.
Asia is a student at University of Michigan-Dearborn where she studies Criminal Justice and Film and is the Senior Associate of Storytelling and Local Organizing at Zealous. When Asia isn’t helping to uplift the stories of those impacted by the criminal legal system and making her dream of a world without cages come true, she is writing poetry.
Senior Associate of Policy and Strategy
Senior Associate of Policy and Strategy
Esul Burton is a recent graduate of the University of Cambridge, where they were an MPhil candidate in Political Thought and Intellectual History. Previously, they received their BA in Political Science from Yale College, where they worked at the Connecticut Bail Fund and served as a research assistant for Professor Judith Resnik at Yale Law School.
At Zealous, Esul supports the team on a range of campaigns, and partnerships by maintaining a firm grasp on local and national policy priorities, as well as the partner and coalition landscapes Zealous supports.
Kelsey is a creative with a passion to empower, provoke thought, and drive change. With experience in branding, web design, product design, medical design, and advertising she is well-versed in design processes. She believes good design only happens when the audience feels connected through empathy, ethos, and storytelling.
At Zealous, she is a senior designer and works on visual and experience design for campaigns, events, and trainings, as well as, digital and print work.
Policy and Advocacy Associate
Policy and Advocacy Associate
Khue graduated from Yale College where she received a BA in Political Science and a BA in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. She is also a Yale Journalism Scholar. Before Zealous, Khue worked as a journalist specializing in community journalism. As a Gwen Ifill Fellow at Austin’s PBS Station, she produced multimedia content regarding immigration, women in male-dominated workplaces, and community organizing groups, Khue also practiced solutions journalism on responses to social problems in city hall, community-oriented stories, and religion at the Flint Beat, a nonprofit news outlet that serves as an effective watchdog over local government. She has also done work at the Yale Prison Education Initiative, by providing research support and transcribing works made by incarcerated students in Connecticut prisons enrolled in Yale College courses.
At Zealous, Khue supports all Zealous staff in maximizing impact on projects by maintaining a firm and current grasp on all local and national policy priorities, partner and coalition landscapes, policies and legal issues.
Truth and Justice Associate
Truth and Justice Associate
Davis graduated from Northwestern University with degrees in journalism and political science. Before Zealous, Davis worked as a client advocate with the Office of Defense Services in Wilmington, Delaware. His work as a journalist has appeared in the Texas Tribune, the Half Moon Bay Review, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
As Truth and Justice Associate, Davis supports Zealous work at the intersection of journalism and justice, working alongside journalists, public defenders, advocates and people with direct experience to topple the imbalance of power in criminal justice media.
Creative Communications Associate
Iishe is a visual artist, community organizer, afrofuturist, and abolitionist. She recently graduated from Scripps College with a BA in Media Studies, and spent most of her time studying media theory, race, and digital art. During her time at Scripps, Iishe co-founded Nobody Fails at Scripps, a mutual aid organization led by a collective of 40+ students to combat the inequitable effects of the pandemic.
As a Creative Communications Associate, Iishe supports the team in developing and launching social media plans, toolkits, creative design strategies, and illustration projects to uplift and amplify the critical messages and content of Zealous.
Harris County, Texas
Alex Bunin is the Chief Public Defender for Harris County, Texas, an office he established in 2010. Previously, he was the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of New York. In 1999, he was appointed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to establish Federal Public Defender offices in the Districts of Northern New York and Vermont and he was twice reappointed to additional four-year terms. He sits on the Advisory Board of THE CHAMPION magazine and the CRIMINAL JUSTICE MAGAZINE of the American Bar Association. He served on the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Board of Directors (2012-15), Executive Committee (2013-14), and committees on Federal Rules, Forensic Sciences, and Fourth Amendment Advocacy. He is Vice-Chair of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association’s Public Defender Committee and a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum. As well as having written law review articles on federal sentencing and the death penalty, he is co-author of O’CONNOR’S FEDERAL CRIMINAL RULES & CODES (Jones McClure 2016).
Alameda County, California
Brendon Woods is the first African American Public Defender in Alameda County history. Woods leads 160 attorneys, investigators, and support staff, operating out of five branches throughout the County, to provide superior legal defense in more than 3,300 new files monthly. In 2013, his office was named Law Office of the Year by the Alameda County Bar Association. Brendon is a nationally recognized leader and innovator in public defense. He was recently sworn in as the President of the California Public Defenders Association and was honored with the Harvard Law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellowship for his outstanding public service accomplishments. He shares his expertise at speaking engagements around the country and is considered an expert on many subjects associated with public defense, including holistic representation, racial profiling, community empowerment, police reform, and models of immigration representation.
Writer, Former Public Defender, Professor
Yale Law School
James Forman Jr. is J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He attended public schools in Detroit and New York City before graduating from the Atlanta Public Schools. After attending Brown University and Yale Law School, he worked as a law clerk for Judge William Norris of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. After clerking, he joined the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., where for six years he represented both juveniles and adults charged with crimes.
During his time as a public defender, Professor Forman became frustrated with the lack of education and job training opportunities for his clients. So in 1997, along with David Domenici, he started the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, an alternative school for school dropouts and youth who had previously been arrested. A decade later, in 2007, Maya Angelou School expanded and agreed to run the school inside D.C.’s juvenile prison. That school, which had long been an abysmal failure, has been transformed under the leadership of the Maya Angelou staff; the court monitor overseeing D.C.’s juvenile system called the turnaround “extraordinary.”
Forman taught at Georgetown Law from 2003 to 2011, when he joined the Yale faculty. At Yale, he teaches Criminal Law and a seminar called Inside Out: Issues in Criminal Justice, in which Yale law students study alongside men and women incarcerated in state and federal prisons.
Professor Forman teaches and writes in the areas of criminal procedure and criminal law policy, constitutional law, juvenile justice, and education law and policy. His particular interests are schools, prisons, and police, and those institutions’ race and class dimensions. Professor Forman’s first book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, was on many top 10 lists, including the New York Times’ 10 Best Books of 2017, and was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
Founder & Director
Jonathan Rapping is a nationally renowned criminal justice innovator and 2014 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellow, who moved from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, because he found the injustice within our criminal justice system – particularly in the South – to be unacceptable. In 2007, Rapping founded Gideon’s Promise and began an initiative to change the public defense landscape across America by grooming a generation of public defenders – many of whom are often so overwhelmed by crushing caseloads that they are unable to provide their clients the representation the Constitution demands – to rise up and fight against the injustice within our justice system. In his quest to train and equip public defenders with the resources necessary to ensure all citizens receive their Constitutional right of “equal justice for all,” Rapping and his organization have become symbols of a new civil rights movement.
Journalist & Lawyer
President of The Appeal
Josie Duffy Rice is a journalist and lawyer whose work is primarily focused on prosecutors, prisons, and other criminal justice issues. Currently, she is President of The Appeal, a news publication that publishes original journalism about the criminal justice system. Josie co-hosts the podcast Justice in America with Clint Smith. She is a 2019 Type Media Fellow, and a Civic Media Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Appeal, Slate, Gawker, Ebony, and Spook Mag, among others.
New Yorkers United for Justice
Khalil A. Cumberbatch currently serves Chief Strategist at New Yorkers United for Justice. He previously served as Associate Vice President of Policy at the Fortune Society, a reentry organization whose goal is to build people and not prisons; as well as Manager of Trainings at JustLeadershipUSA, a national non-profit dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by year 2030. He is also a lecturer at Columbia University School of Social Work. In December 2014, after being held for five months in immigration detention, Khalil was one of two recipients to receive an Executive Pardon from NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo to prevent his deportation from the United States.
Professor, Writer Advocate
University of San Francisco School of Law
Lara Bazelon is a writer and associate professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she is the director of the Criminal Juvenile Justice and Racial Justice Clinics. A 2016 MacDowell Fellow and a 2017 Mesa Refuge Langeloth Fellow, she is the former director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent. Bazelon is also a nonresident fellow with Brandeis University's Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Atlantic, Washington Post, Politico, and Slate, where she is a contributing writer and has a long-running series about wrongful conviction cases.
Activist and Founder
Phenomenal Woman Campaign
Meenakshi "Meena" Ashley Harris is an American lawyer, tech-policy expert, political activist, and entrepreneur. On International Women's Day, March 8, 2017, she launched the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, a grassroots fundraising initiative that benefits women's organizations like Planned Parenthood and EMILY's List.
Advocate, Author, & Podcaster
Rabia Chaudry is an attorney and a partner at the Chaudry and Anwer Immigration Law Firm based in Northern Virginia, where she supervises asylum cases and immigration appeals. She is well known as the co-host and co-producer of the hit criminal justice podcast Undisclosed and the political podcast The 45th, with nearly 300 million downloads combined. She is also the author of the NY Times Bestselling book, "Adnan's Story,” and Executive Producer of the Emmy-nominated HBO docuseries "The Case Against Adnan Syed".
Silicon Valley De-Bug
Raj Jayadev is a community organizer creating a model of grassroots collective action that gives individuals facing incarceration, their families, and their communities an active role in their defense. Jayadev’s work in criminal justice reform has grown out of his social activism work with Silicon Valley De-Bug (De-Bug), an organization he co-founded in 2001. De-Bug began as a magazine about issues affecting low-wage manufacturing, temporary workers, and it has since evolved into a multidimensional platform for community organizing, social justice advocacy, and multimedia storytelling by low-income, minority, incarcerated, and other disenfranchised communities.
Data Scientist, Policy Analyst, & Activist
Founder of Campaign Zero
Samuel Sinyangwe, 27, is a policy analyst and data scientist who works with communities of color to fight systemic racism through cutting-edge policies and strategies. Samuel co-founded Mapping Police Violence to support activists across the country to collect and use data to fight police violence and co-founded Campaign Zero to advocate for local, state, and federal policy solutions to end police violence. Samuel has been featured on MSNBC, CNN, BBC, LA Times, the Forbes 30 under 30 and The Root 100. Previously, Samuel worked at PolicyLink to support a national network of 61 Promise Neighborhoods communities to build cradle-to-career systems of support for low-income families.
Journalist, Author, & Philanthropist
Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist who anchors and produces the Hearst Television political magazine program “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien.” O’Brien, founder and CEO of Starfish Media Group, also reports for HBO Real Sports, the PBS NewsHour, WebMD and has authored two books. She has appeared on networks, Fox and Oxygen and anchored and reported for NBC, MSNBC and CNN. She has won numerous awards, including three Emmys, the George Peabody award, an Alfred I DuPont prize and the Gracie. Newsweek Magazine named her one of the “15 People Who Make America Great.” With her husband, she is founder of the PowHERful Foundation that helps young women get to and through college.
Zealous is at an extraordinary moment of growth and potential impact. In the position(s) linked below, you will find an overview of our work and job descriptions. Please share these listings widely with your networks.
Zealous is looking to add stunningly creative and highly motivated design interns with hands-on art and design education and/or experience. You have the skills of working on brand identity and UX design projects, have typographic knowledge and skills of application, a passion for the actual user experience and journey, and the ability to help with Zealous design projects to the best of your ability. Read more →
We are accepting applications on a rolling basis. To apply, please send a resume, a portfolio of design work and letter of interest stating clear the position you are interested in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Center for Institutional and Social Change, Columbia Law School
- Center for Law and Advocacy, Columbia Law School
- Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative, New York University School of Law
- Movement Lawyering Clinic, Howard University
- Prison Law and Policy Program, UCLA Law School
- The Ramos Project, Lewis & Clarke Law School
- Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, Howard University
- University of Chicago Law School
- University of Illinois Chicago, John Marshall Law School
- University of San Francisco School of Law
- University of Tulsa Law School
Public Defender Offices
- Alameda County Public Defenders
- Bronx Defenders
- Brooklyn Defender Services
- Cook County Public Defender
- Defender Association of Philadelphia
- Harris County Public Defender's Office
- Los Angeles County Public Defender
- Mississippi Public Defender
- Orleans Public Defenders
- Prince George’s County Public Defenders
- BackSpace Hate
- Broadway Advocacy Coalition
- Center for Fair Sentencing of Youth
- Civil Rights Corps
- Coalition to End Money Bond
- Color of Change
- For Freedoms
- Freedom Reads
- Gideon's Promise
- Haymarket Books
- Human Rights Watch
- Imagine Justice
- Incarcerated Nations Network
- Just Media
- Justice Catalyst Law
- MacArthur Justice Center
- Measures for Justice
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- National Association of Public Defenders
- NowThis News
- Partners for Justice
- PEN America
- Phenomenal Women Action Campaign
- RAPP Campaign
- Represent Justice
- Road Drug Test Innocence Alliance
- Silicon Valley De-Bug
- Storyline Partners
- Teen Vogue
- The Bail Project
- The Confined Arts
- The New Yorker
- The Sentencing Project
- Unlock the Box
- Vera Institute of Justice
- ACLU of Mississippi
- ACLU of Oregon
- Baltimore Courtwatch
- Broad Museum of Modern Art
- Broadway Advocacy Coalition
- Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts
- Chicago Community Bond Fund
- Circles and Ciphers
- Court Watch LA
- Court Watch NOLA
- Court Watch NYC
- Courtwatch PG
- Definition Theater
- Dream Defenders
- Exodus Transitional Community
- Free Hearts
- Illinois Humanities
- Justice LA Coalition
- Life After Release
- Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
- Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem
- Open MI Door
- Texas Jail Project
- Yale Undergraduate Prison Project
- Youth Peace Center of Roseland