Rev. Sharon White-Harrigan, LMSW
Sharon has been the Executive Director of the Women’s Community Justice Association since 2018. Drawing on her experience as a licensed social worker, domestic violence survivor, and formerly incarcerated person, she has expertise in various direct services and policy advocacy campaigns that support justice-impacted women. Sharon was a leader in the successful effort to enact New York State’s Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act in 2019. She also serves as an advisory member of the Survivor’s Justice Project, the co-lead of the Bedford Hills project, a strategic consultant and senior advisor to the Women & Justice Project, a member of the International Advisory Committee with the National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, co-creator of the Justice 4 Women Task Force (#J4WTF), Policy Council Member, and co-founder & executive member of Women Building UP. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Lehman College, a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice from City University of New York where she was a Thomas W. Smith Fellow, and an associates degree in Liberal Arts from Marymount Manhattan College. Sharon is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Frank & Lisina Hoch Award for Social Justice Advocacy and Activism, and the 2019 Leadership Award for her advocacy to pass the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act.
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 Policy and Campaigns
Michelle has led successful issue advocacy, communications and electoral campaigns from both inside and outside of New York city and state government for more than 15 years.
Her background includes serving as Director of State Campaigns at the Innocence Project, a national organization that addresses wrongful convictions. There she oversaw criminal justice reform campaigns that passed more than 30 laws in over half the states in the country. Previously, she was Legislative and Communications Director for New York City Council Member Jessica Lappin, where she spearheaded efforts to bring the Cornell-Technion campus to Roosevelt Island.
Her career started in Albany, advising Assembly Democrats in swing districts on policy and communications. She has also managed electoral campaigns for state and city candidates. Michelle has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post and other major new outlets. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and is an AVODAH fellow.
Chrishenna (She/Her) is WCJA's community organizer and a Justice 4 Women Taskforce (#J4WTF) member. She is a strong advocate for the Black and LGBTQIA+ community. Her experiences and being directly impacted by the system helps her uplift and give support. She started with her work at a nonprofit in The Bronx, where she helped build the members and community by planning/hosting events for the community and attending rallies/actions to coordinate partnerships with community organizations/members for unionizing efforts to end violence & oppression. She hopes to amplify the voices and empower women and gender-expansive New Yorkers at Rikers Island.
Senior Community Organizer
Leah Faria (She/Her) is a Black, formerly incarcerated, community organizer and mother. She is a survivor of domestic and State violence. Faria uses her direct experiences as a way to build community and to organize Black and brown women as the organizer at the Women’s Community Justice Association. She is an instrumental leader of the Justice 4 Women Taskforce (#J4WTF) where she works to amplify the voices and empower women incarcerated at Rikers Island.
Digital Communications Manager
Nicole Cantos (She/Her) is WCJA's Digital Communications Manager. She's a strong advocate for women and animal rights and believes jails and cages shouldn't exist.
During her time with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Nicole learned the ins and outs of digital marketing and the inhumanity humans currently exert on those deemed weaker and voiceless.
Nicole has a graduate degree in Corporate Communications and focused her thesis on the Ecuadorian immigrant mothers' experience and perception of the police in Bushwick, Brooklyn - a quest she found insightful and aligned with the quintessential power dynamics in the USA.
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