Board of Directors

Nicole Porter
Co-chair and Personnel chair

Director of Advocacy for the Sentencing Project in Washington, DC, Nicole is the former director of the ACLU's Prison & Jail Accountability Project (PJAP). PJAP's mission was to monitor the conditions of confinement in Texas jails and prisons.

Jacob Flowers

Jacob is a native of Shelby County, Tennessee, and the Executive Director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center in Memphis. Jacob worked with Grassroots Leadership in the campaign against privatization and expansion of the Shelby County Jail and Penal Farm.

Gislaine Williams
Finance Committee chair

Gislaine leads the administrative support team for the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. She previously worked as a program manager for a non-profit organization serving international refugees in Houston, TX. Before that, she served as a state-wide field organizer for the ACLU of Texas criminal justice and youth rights campaigns.She became involved in the issue of for-profit detention as a student organizer at Rice University and the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. A native of Honduras, Gislaine grew up in Houston and has participated in a number of grassroots campaigns related to immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, and death penalty abolition.

Arjun Sethi
Development Committee chair

Arjun Sethi is an attorney in Washington, D.C., and a frequent commentator on civil rights and social justice related issues. He has previously represented victims of domestic violence, asylum seekers, national security detainees, and criminal defendants on death row.

His commentary has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, CNN, Al Jazeera, The Christian Science Monitor, and other news outlets. Arjun is a graduate of NYU Law School and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Darwin Hamilton
Program Chair

Darwin is a 5th generation Austinite and graduate of LBJ High School. He was recently featured in the 2015 #IAMBLACKAUSTIN interactive campaign by the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce. Darwin’s great great grandfather, Thomas Dedrick, was a former slave and freeman who was among the first to settle in East Austin after Emancipation where he built the historic Dedrick-Hamilton house on 11th St. The House is the site of the African American Heritage & Cultural Center and home to the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce. Darwin’s first legal battle was in representing his family and property rights in an eminent domain lawsuit filed by the City of Austin.

He works to shift the attitudes of society and those who work within the criminal justice system by strategically telling his story and example of success. Since 2012, Darwin has actively been engaged in criminal justice reform, education and re­entry advocacy. He currently serves on the executive committee of the Austin/Travis County Re-entry Roundtable and as co-chair the Re-entry Advocacy Project.

Hope Mustakim
Governance Chair

Hope Mustakim is graduate student in the Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University. Her studies include a concentration in Community Practice and specialization in immigrant rights advocacy. She is a co-leader of the Waco Immigration Alliance and has been a member of Detention Watch Network since 2011, when her husband was unexpectedly detained and nearly deported. Through Hope’s relentless organizing, her husband's case was dropped and he returned home after 10 months of detention in a for-profit detention facility. In learning the stories of hundreds of fellow immigrants along their journey, a passion was born in Hope’s family for immigrant rights activism and they are now passionate voices for justice and reform.

Gabriela Benitez

Gaby was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and immigrated with her family to Memphis at age 6. Living most of her life as an undocumented student and with her family currently facing the deportation of her father, Gaby has a strong commitment to immigrant community organizing. Gaby was a co-founder for Youth for Youth, an undocumented immigrant youth group in the Memphis area, and served the West Tennessee Organizer for the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).  She currently serves as the Domestic Worker Program Coordinator for Latino Union of Chicago and is a member of Organized Communities Against Deportations (OCAD) a project of Undocumented Illinois that works on stopping deportations of individuals in the state.  She is a graduate of the University of Memphis. 

Christopher Petrella

Christopher Petrella is a Lecturer in American Cultural Studies at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He also serves as Associate Director of Programs in the College's Office of Equity and Diversity (OED). Christopher holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in African Diaspora Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.T.S. in Religion, Ethics, and Politics from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Bates College. His research and teaching interests include the intellectual history of race, criminalization, and protest. To learn more about Christopher, visit his personal website.

Topeka Sam

Topeka Sam is the founder of The Ladies of Hope Ministries (LOHM) whose mission is to help disenfranchised and marginalized women and girls transition back into society through education, empowerment and spiritual development. Topeka is also a member of The National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls also known as “The Council.” She is pursuing her Certificate in Christian Ministry at New York Theological Seminary, is a Beyond the Bars 2016 Fellow and a Justice­In­Education Scholar at Columbia University.

While in federal prison, Topeka began to develop and envision the concept for the organization. She established the program only a few short months after her release in May of 2015 with the help of The Eleanor Moody­Shepherd Resource Center for Women in Ministry and has gained considerable awareness for the organization. Topeka has participated in several panel discussions including #FreeHer Justice Advocacy Conference, which was held at Harvard University in Aug. 2015. As organizer of the Real Women Real Voices Symposium, she continues to take the conference nationally to bring awareness around advancement in policy for women in incarceration.

Isis Misdary

Isis Misdary recently joined the Defender Association of Philadelphia as an assistant defender. Prior to this, Isis worked as a freelance theater director, primarily working with playwrights representing  marginalized communities and bringing their stories front and center of mainstream American theatre.

During her career as a theater director, Isis worked as an educator, working with NYC public school teachers and within the NYC public school system and its partners on innovative ways to wrestle with improved literacy through creative writing and expression.

Isis has also worked as a community organizer for Union of the Homeless and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union in Philadelphia. Isis is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Directors Program, a Van Lier Directing Fellowship at Second Stage, Soros Fellowship for New Americans, a Fulbright Grant to Egypt and Maggio Immigrants' Rights Fellowship.