We are guided by the diverse experiences of our Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice Leadership Team, who have uncovered the healing power of sharing their stories to elevate their voice in public policy. The existing team includes:
Sujatha’s work is characterized by an equal dedication to victims and persons accused of crime. The convergence of sujatha’s interest in Tibetan ideals of justice and her work with women and children who've suffered abuse drew her to law school. Today, sujatha is the director of the Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice, where she assists communities in implementing restorative justice alternatives to juvenile detention and zero-tolerance school discipline policies. She is equally dedicated to using restorative processes to address intra-familial and sexual harm.
In 2007, Adela’s sister-in-law Laura Sanchez – a mother of four and a cherished member of the family – was killed in a random drive-by-shooting outside her Los Angeles home. Adela became a source of support for Laura’s children and went on to form L.A.U.R.A (Life After Uncivil Ruthless Acts). LAURA is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of the residents of South Central Los Angeles by providing a wide-range of social services to the Latino community. LAURA also works with victims of crime to help individuals and communities turn their experiences into more positive outcomes.
When David was 10 years old in 1983, his older brother – and idol – was murdered. No one told him what happened, and David struggled in his teen years with fear and anger about the loss. After decades of drug and alcohol addiction, David became clean and sober. Then in 2012, another brother was killed while attempting to stop a stranger from entering a wedding party. David helped his family navigate this ordeal and has developed first-hand expertise in what needs – often unmet or hard to meet – people have after experiencing trauma. He is a founding member the Leadership Team for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and Los Angeles Chapter Lead.
In 2006, Tom became a victim of an assault and robbery, awoke from a coma days later and has struggled since with memory loss, headaches and dizziness. His attackers were caught, and the main instigator went to prison. However, Tom decided that forgiveness was the only way to make something meaningful out of the experience, and his letter to the young man changed both of their lives. Tom also passionately advocates for better trauma support for victims after a violent crime.
Dr. Sonya B. Shah
Sonya has been teaching social justice education and developing curriculums for 18 years and is an expert in Restorative Justice Oriented Programs. The experiences of child sexual assault and rape traumatized Sonya but have also inspired and informed her work to better understand the root causes of violence and better forms of accountability and healing after a crime takes place.
In 1992, a truce was agreed between two rival Los Angeles Gangs (Bloods & Crips). Aqeela Sherrills helped to broker the peace deal. After Aqeela’s 18-year-old son was shot and killed by a stranger while home from college on winter break, Aqeela turned this tragedy into a full-time effort to reduce violence and increase the healing opportunities for individuals and communities a ected by violence. Aqeela founded The Reverence Project to develop comprehensive wellness centers in urban communities to introduce those who suffer from high levels of trauma to alternative healing technologies that support their healing.
In 2005, Dionne’s police officer husband was shot and killed in the line of duty. Though the shooter was convicted and sent to Death Row, the experience changed Dionne's perspective on the justice system. She saw first hand the ineffective and costly results of investing in strategies that focus on incarceration rather than preventing crime. In 2012, she began volunteering as a survivor advocate for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and in 2014, she joined the staff of Californians for Safety and Justice, expanding her role and working with survivors to elevate their calls for smarter justice policies. She lives in Brentwood, CA.