Rev. Sharon White-Harrigan, LMSW
Sharon White-Harrigan is a trailblazer, visionary, and thought leader who leads with faith and hope. She is the inaugural Executive Director of the Women’s Community Justice Association (WCJA). A gender-specific and expansive, trauma/healing-centered, advocacy-for-justice agency that drives change through regular and sustained engagement with formerly incarcerated individuals, community members, and individuals currently on Rikers Island, providing an array of opportunities for New Yorkers to achieve healing and transformation at each stage of justice involvement. With over 30+ years in the movement in various ways, Sharon’s leadership in direct service fields spans reentry, domestic violence, homelessness, mental health, substance usage, trauma, and healing. She has also worked on policy advocacy efforts and led the 10-year campaign to pass NY’s Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act in 2019. Sharon is a minister, motivational speaker, adjunct lecturer, consultant, and therapist. She is an Executive, co-founder, and co-owner of Women Building UP (WBU). She also serves as an advisory member of the Survivor’s Justice Project, a strategic consultant to the Women & Justice Project, and a co-founder of the Justice for Women Task Force. She draws upon her expertise as a licensed Social Worker, a survivor of violence, and a survivor of 11 years of incarceration. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Lehman College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice from the City University of New York, where she was a Thomas W. Smith Fellow, and an Associate's Degree in liberal arts from Marymount Manhattan College. Sharon is the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
Director of Operations
Tashoy (She/Her) is a driven & motivated advocate fighting for women impacted by mass incarceration.
While she’s just beginning her career in advocacy she’s no stranger to upper level management positions, spearheading initiatives , project management & client relations. Her background has consistently been characterized by her steadfast dedication to enhancing organizational performance and achieving company objectives. Her passion for social justice reform and community engagement has helped her to make an impact across various communities. Her advocacy work began after she gained lived experience & realized how unjust the criminal justice system really is. With her proven ability to leverage communication, presentation, and leadership talents to make significant contributions, Tashoy intends to grow in this field while being a voice for incarcerated women. Tashoy is passionate about advocating for women and Black communities throughout her career and will continue to do so on her path to fight for justice.
Director of Community Liaisons
Leah Faria (She/Her) is a mother, daughter and sister who has dedicated over twenty years advocating for communities most impacted by the Criminal Legal system. Leah is a survivor of both domestic and State violence and uses her direct experiences as a way to educate, build community, network and organize within vulnerable Black and Brown communities. She is an instrumental leader of the Rikers Island initiative where during bi-weekly visits she provides support and resources to the women and gender expansive people detained at the Rose M. Singer Center, bringing them a sense of hope in what so often feels like a hopeless situation.
Director of Advocacy
Jay Edidin comes to WCJA with a Master's degree in Human Rights, a passion for policy, two decades of experience as a writer and editor, and a lifetime of grassroots activism and organizing. In addition to his work at WCJA, Jay writes for the American Library Association award-winning children’s podcast The Imagine Neighborhood, delves into the minutiae of comics continuity as half of Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, and knits pretty nice hats.
While Tashan is new to advocacy, that doesn't stop him from fighting for the good cause. It is almost a guarantee that Tashan has his camera with him wherever he goes because he is passionate about photography. A few articles featuring his work have been published. In addition to his love of photography, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to WCJA. During the pandemic, he captured crucial moments at rallies.
Community & Court Navigator
Akiana Smith is a native New Yorker and natural born activist. She has worked as a community organizer, educator, and ran anger management groups for men returning from prison. Akiana is currently the Community - Court Navigator of the Women's Community Justice Association, a non-profit fighting for the rights of women in detention and the closure of RIkers Island. Akiana uses her voice as a tool to bring awareness to injustice. She is earning her Bachelors from John Jay College in Human Services and Community Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Akiana is a proud mother of two empowered daughters and an advocate for prisoners everywhere.
Board of Directors
Rita Zimmer, Board Director, co-chair, Executive Director of HousingPlus
Carole Eady, Board Director, HRA Specialist
Cheryl Wilkins, Board Director, Senior Director at Center for Justice at Columbia University
Connie Temple, Board Secretary
Danielle Minelli Pagnotta, Board Treasurer, Executive Director of Providence house
Joan Montach, Board Chair
Kandra Clark, Board Director, Vice President of Policy at Exodus Transitional Community
Marge Ives, Board Director
Serena Liguori, Board Director, Executive Director of New Hour for Women and Children – LI
Sharon White-Harrigan, Board Director, Executive Director of WCJA
Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin, Board Co-Chair, Chief Officer at NYCHA Family Reunification Unit