Who We Are

Jail bars behind text.

We are an unbiased, expert source of information on Pennsylvania prisons.

Graphic of 5 hands "putting their hands in."
Graphic of a dark cell behind golden bars.
Our History

For more than 230 years the Prison Society has worked to promote the health, safety and dignity of people behind bars. Our start dates back to May 8, 1787, just weeks away from the start of the Constitutional Convention, our nation’s founders established the Pennsylvania Prison Society out of the conviction that “The obligations of benevolence are not canceled by the follies or crimes of our fellow creatures.”

That moment and their words still inspire us.

Hidden from public view, abuse and degradation behind bars often goes unnoticed. Closed from communities and families, prisons isolate people from the supports they need to contribute when they come home. Our mission to advance the health, safety, and dignity of the people who live and work  in every jail and prison across the Commonwealth is as relevant today as it was two centuries ago.

Our Approach

Impartiality and empathy are not mutually exclusive: we’re committed to acting objectively and with integrity; also to bringing compassion and sensitivity to honor the humanity in each individual.

Transparency, respect, and fact guides our work. Our monitoring methods, data collection systems, volunteer training, and the way we mediate with prison administrators are based on these principles.

A graphic of an orange heart behind dark bars.

Our People

At our core, the Prison Society is just that, a Society, a group of people who have come together to form a community.
A community dedicated to the proposition that all among us are entitled to a life of dignity and caring—regardless of commission of crime, mistakes, or poverty. A community that believes that the criminal justice system should restore hope and the possibility of a life of virtue and happiness, not dash hope and end lives. We are a community dedicated to extending compassion to those living behind prison walls because we know it benefits us all.
Our staff supports (and is supported by) over 300 volunteers working in prisons statewide. Our staff, volunteers, and board members come from a wide range of professions, areas of expertise, and backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common: we are committed to the health, safety, and dignity of the people who live and work in prison

Our Staff

Claire Shubik-Richards
Claire Shubik-Richards
Executive Director
Claire Shubik-Richards
Executive Director
Noah Barth
Noah Barth
Prison Monitoring Director
Noah Barth
Prison Monitoring Director
Emily Cheramie-Walz
Emily Cheramie-Walz
Development Director
Emily Cheramie-Walz
Development Director
Kirstin Cornnell
Kirstin Cornnell
Family and Community Support Director
Kirstin Cornnell
Family and Community Support Director
John Hargreaves
John Hargreaves
Volunteer Director
John Hargreaves
Volunteer Director
Leigh Owens
Leigh Owens
Education and Advocacy Director
Leigh Owens
Education and Advocacy Director
sestey@prisonsociety.org
Angela Damiano
Angela Damiano
Prison Monitoring Manager (Western PA)
Angela Damiano
Prison Monitoring Manager (Western PA)
Matthew Githens
Matthew Githens
Finance and Operations Manager
Matthew Githens
Finance and Operations Manager
Andy Peifer
Andy Peifer
Family and Community Supports Manager
Andy Peifer
Family and Community Supports Manager
Jessica Reed
Jessica Reed
Prison Monitoring Manager (Central PA)
Jessica Reed
Prison Monitoring Manager (Central PA)
Connor Demchick
Connor Demchick
Executive and Helpline Associate
Connor Demchick
Executive and Helpline Associate
Lisa Garcia
Lisa Garcia
Prison Monitoring and Helpline Associate
Lisa Garcia
Prison Monitoring and Helpline Associate
Sarah Estey
Sarah Estey
Advancement and Helpline Associate
Sarah Estey
Advancement and Helpline Associate
David Meade
David Meade
Graterfriends Associate
David Meade
Graterfriends Associate
Joseph Robinson
Joseph Robinson
Mentoring Associate
Joseph Robinson
Mentoring Associate

Our Board Of Directors

Executive Committee

Simeon Poles
Simeon Poles
President
Associate, DLA Piper LLP
Simeon Poles
President
Simeon ("Sim") Poles is a trial and appellate lawyer at DLA Piper LLP focused on helping clients deal with the unique challenges of developing innovative technologies or using them to improve existing capabilities and products. Sim leverages his experience as a two-time federal law clerk to see a client's issue from the court’s point of view. He also brings significant counseling experience to help clients navigate the maze of regulations governing their business. And Sim recognizes the tremendous value that collaborating with colleagues adds to the work he does for each client.
Honorable Renée Cardwell Hughes
Honorable Renée Cardwell Hughes
Vice President
Retired Trial Judge, Court of Common Pleas
Honorable Renée Cardwell Hughes
Vice President
Renée Cardwell Hughes is a highly experienced executive. She focuses on strategy, leadership development and change management. Renée is a Qualified Financial Expert. She serves on the board of The Haverford Trust Company, a $12 billion wealth management company and private bank. She is a member of the Audit Committee and Board liaison to the DE&I
Seth Williams
Seth Williams
Treasurer
Senior Managing Consultant, Public Financial Management
Seth Williams
Treasurer
Seth Williams is a senior managing consultant in Public Financial Management’s Management and Budget Consulting practice. He has supported state and local government clients with performance and operational assessments, workforce and organizational structure reviews, and financial improvement initiatives. He has also supported client engagements focused on improving criminal justice operations and fiscal efficiency. Prior to joining PFM, Seth worked for the Office of the New Jersey Governor as Cabinet Liaison for Public Safety and a Deputy Director of Management and Operations.
Steve Chanenson
Steve Chanenson
Secretary
Professor, Villanova Law School
Steve Chanenson
Secretary
As the Director of the Villanova Sentencing Workshop and former Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, Steve Chanenson brings an innovative approach to the study of sentencing and criminal law. He teaches courses on sentencing, white-collar crime, criminal law and criminal procedure at Villanova. Professor Chanenson writes primarily in the areas of sentencing and criminal procedure with his works having been published in such journals as the Stanford Law Review, Emory Law Journal, Waseda Proceedings of Comparative Law, and Yale Law Journal Pocket Part.

Our Board Members

Sen. Camera Bartolotta
Sen. Camera Bartolotta
State Senator, 46th Senatorial District (Beaver, Green, and Washington Counties)
Sen. Camera Bartolotta
Senator Camera Bartolotta brings an entrepreneurial spirit and a wealth of real-world experience to her job representing residents of Beaver, Greene and Washington counties. A longtime resident of Monongahela, she was elected to her first term representing the 46th Senatorial District in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018. She also co-founded the bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Caucus to focus on ways to help promote safer communities, reduce prison costs and ensure better outcomes for individuals who are part of the criminal justice system. Camera is an active member of the community she has called home for more than three decades.
Dana Becker
Dana Becker
Partner, Morgan Lewis
Dana Becker
Dana E. Becker counsels a diverse group of clients, including those in the medical device, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, technology, publishing, energy, and financial services industries. She works closely with large and small clients to advance their business objectives while navigating a dispute, and draws on her experience managing a portfolio of litigation for a global media and technology company to provide strategic business advice and creative, cost-effective solutions. Dana maintains an active pro bono practice, including serving as trial counsel in a disability rights matter culminating in a jury verdict and an award of damages in her client’s favor, litigating a request for compassionate release during the COVID-19 pandemic, and representing a client in a successful petition for asylum.
Ashley Biden
Ashley Biden
Executive Director of the Women's Wellness SPA(ce)
Ashley Biden
Ashley Biden graduated from Tulane University and earned a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2012, Ashley joined the Delaware Center for Justice, which focuses on criminal justice reform, as associate director before being appointed executive director in 2014. Prior to that stint, which ended in 2019, she was a social worker for 15 years at the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. While there, Ashley created programs for youth "in the juvenile-justice, foster-care and mental-health systems. Ashley currently consults with the Alliance for Safety and Justice, where she is focussed on building out trauma recovery centers throughout Pennsylvania.
Bradley S. Bridge
Bradley S. Bridge
Retired Assistant Defender, Defender Association of Philadelphia
Bradley S. Bridge
Bradley S. Bridge is an Assistant Defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Mr. Bridge graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Psychology in 1976 and from Harvard Law School with a J.D. in 1979. Since 1983, he’s worked with the Defender Association of Philadelphia. His current assignment is with the homicide and appeals units. In connection with that, he is currently challenging in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Superior Court and in Courts of Common Pleas the constitutionality of sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without parole. Other responsibilities include evaluation of cases that should be reopened in light of police corruption.
Stefanie Christmas
Stefanie Christmas
Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Inizio
Stefanie Christmas
Stefanie Christmas is a Director at Vynamic, a healthcare industry management consulting company, with a breadth of strategic planning and organizational effectiveness experience in the public and private sector across multiple industries. Stefanie has worked extensively in transformational initiatives to heighten organizational efficiency, amplify leadership engagement, and improve process consistency. Stefanie founded and currently co-leads Vynamic’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, and leads Vynamic’s Diversity & Inclusion service offering.
David Davis
David Davis
Managing Director, Consulting Lead for PA and Talent & Organization Lead for North America’s Public Sector, Accenture
David Davis
David M. Davis is Managing Director, Consulting Lead for Pennsylvania and Talent & Organization Lead for North America’s Public Sector. As a self-described change agent, he is responsible for leading large-scale, complex change management projects for various public service institutions, helping them transform into high-performing organizations. David holds a B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University College of Communications and now serves on select boards, including the Annual Giving Campaign, to help advance university priorities. He lives in South Philadelphia and serves on various local nonprofit boards that focus on health and public service. David also oversees diversity and inclusion recruiting initiatives for Accenture Philadelphia.
Charity Hughes
Charity Hughes
Senior Vice President, Talent Management, Sellers Dorsey
Charity Hughes
Dr. Charity Hughes has over 20 years of experience in human resources, diversity and inclusion, organizational development, and employee engagement. Prior to joining Sellers Dorsey, she served as the Chief Talent Officer for Mastery Charter Schools, a nonprofit network of 24 public schools serving 14,500 students in Philadelphia and Camden. She has also served as Vice President of Human Resources at VWR International and SCA Americas. She has partnered with organizations to design and implement diversity strategies for large-scale sustainable transformation, and is the co-lead for the Harvard Institute of Coaching (IOC) Race, Equity and Inclusion Council. As President and CEO of the Pathfinder Leadership group, Charity empowers and enables leaders to realize their full potential by providing goal-focused, individual career, and personal development coaching. Charity has served on the boards of Women's Way and several other non-profits.
Rep. Emily Kinkead
Rep. Emily Kinkead
State Representative, 20th Legislative District (Allegheny County)
Rep. Emily Kinkead
Representative Emily Kinkead has represented the 20th Legislative District -- Ross Township, Bellevue Borough, Avalon Borough, West View Borough, and parts of the City of Pittsburgh since 2020. As a member of the General Assembly, she sits on the following committees: Appropriations, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Human Services, Judiciary, and the Committee on Committees. Representative Kinkead has dedicated her life to being a strong voice for those who most need strong voices. She has earned degrees in biology and political science at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and law degree from the University of Pittsburgh Law School.
James Nevels
James Nevels
Founder and Managing Partner of Unicorn Partners, LLC
James Nevels
James E. Nevels is the Founder and Managing Partner of Unicorn Partners, LLC. He was formerly the Chairman of The Swarthmore Group, an investment advisory firm which he founded in 1991. Mr. Nevels serves on the Board of Directors of two public companies – Alcoa Corporation and WestRock. He is also a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Presidential Advisory Committee, OFR Financial Research Advisory Committee and the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Nevels received his undergraduate degree from Bucknell University (cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa), as well as his MBA from The Wharton School at The Universityof Pennsylvania and JD from The University of Pennsylvania Law School.. Mr. Nevels is currently working on his LL.M. in Wealth Management through Texas A&M University. Mr. Nevels has also received four honorary degrees.
Simone Quinerly
Simone Quinerly
CEO of Quinerly Financial Group LLC
Simone Quinerly
Simone Quinerly is a Pittsburgh native who received a Masters in Accounting from Chatham University and a Bachelor's Degree in Finance from Edinboro University. Simone is currently the CEO of Quinerly Financial Group LLC where they provide financial management and solutions to non-profits, small businesses, and individuals. Simone has a passion for financial literacy and just created a 501C3 called the Financial Learning Tree where she will teach the youth financial concepts from grade K-College Seniors. The hope is to narrow the wealth gap in America especially amongst minorities and give them the tools to take hold of their financial futures through simulation, online teaching, and seminars. Simone has one son, age 9, and another son who will make his appearance this August with her loving husband Quintin.
Matthew Ray
Matthew Ray
Chief Creative Officer, ChatterBlast
Matthew Ray
Ray is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of ChatterBlast Media, one of region’s fastest growing creative communications and marketing agencies. With a national client-base, the Philadelphia based firm is a consistent leader in creative communications and digital engagement. Prior to founding ChatterBlast, Ray worked in public relations for TLA Entertainment Group where he handled media outreach for national studio and independent films. He also worked as a freelance journalist and editor for several years, working with various national and regional websites, magazines, and newspapers.
Fatima Sultan
Fatima Sultan
Culture & Engagement Lead, Vanguard
Fatima Sultan
Fatima Sultan’s capacity for driving results coupled with her passion for DEI helps drive new insights and strategies that improve crew experiences in her role as the Crew Experience and Engagement Lead at Vanguard. Tima joined Vanguard in December 2018 as the Head of Broker Dealer Channel Management in FAS. In her capacity as Head of CM she partnered with BD Sales Leaders to deliver channel distribution strategies. Prior to joining Vanguard, Tima worked as a consultant at Accenture delivering commercial transformation programs to clients across industries since 2006. Outside of work, Tima recently obtained her MBA at Cornell’s Johnson School of Business. When she is not working, she enjoys traveling and exploring with her 5 year-old, Maddox. Some of their favorite things to do together include reading books, taking long (and eventful) walks and spending time with family and friends.
David Thornburgh
David Thornburgh
Chair, Ballot PA (project of the Committee of 70)
David Thornburgh
David Thornburgh is a nationally recognized “civic entrepreneur” who, in the course of his career, has launched a series of innovative high impact initiatives to tackle tough community problems. He was named President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, the Philadelphia-based good government group, in November 2014. Thornburgh came to Seventy from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, where he had served as Executive Director since 2008. While at Fels he doubled applications to the program, launched an innovative hybrid Executive MPA program, and during Fels’ 75th Anniversary campaign in 2012 quadrupled alumni giving and carried out 12 public programs that attracted over 1,200 alumni and political and community leaders.
Su Ming Yeh
Su Ming Yeh
Executive Director, Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project
Su Ming Yeh
Su Ming Yeh is the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, where she represents prisoners and other institutionalized individuals on their civil rights claims. Ms. Yeh has litigated dozens of individual cases and class action suits challenging unconstitutional conditions for prisoners and detainees, tried several jury cases to verdict, and argued successfully before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She also is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she co-teaches the Civil Practice Clinic.

Community Advisory Council

Our Community Advisory Council of formerly incarcerated people and family members, several of whom also volunteer with the Society play an invaluable role in helping us continuously improve our services and outreach.
Jose Luis Alamo
Jose Luis Alamo
Jose Luis Alamo
Felicia Dusha
Felicia Dusha
Felicia Dusha
Richard Garland
Richard Garland
Richard Garland
Virginia Hammond
Virginia Hammond
Virginia Hammond
Terri Minor Spencer
Terri Minor Spencer
Terri Minor Spencer
Lisa Kessler-Peters
Lisa Kessler-Peters
Lisa Kessler-Peters
Adrian Perry
Adrian Perry
Adrian Perry
Pamella Superville
Pamella Superville
Pamella Superville
JoAnn Wyjadka
JoAnn Wyjadka
JoAnn Wyjadka