March 15, 2022 — Prison Journalism Project (PJP), a national initiative that trains incarcerated writers to be journalists and publishes their stories, today announced that it has appointed seven directors to its newly established Board of Directors. The directors bring decades of professional experience across disciplines, including deep media and legal expertise, that will help inform the strategic direction of PJP as it continues to broaden its platform and programming across the country.
“Each of PJP’s newly appointed directors shares our vision to build a strong network of prison journalists and brings a unique array of ideas and experiences to help us continue to grow,” said Yukari Kane, who is co-chair and co-founder of PJP along with Shaheen Pasha. “We’re eager to get down to work with our fellow directors to lay a solid foundation at this moment of extraordinary opportunity for our organization and our writers,” said Pasha.
PJP recently announced that it was awarded a major grant from the FWD.us Education Fund to expand the organization’s newsroom operations and its PJP J-School program. The PJP J-School is a journalism correspondence-based journalism course tailored for incarcerated writers. Members of PJP’s inaugural Board of Directors are listed below, along with their brief biographies:
Yukari Iwatani Kane, Co-Chair
Yukari Iwatani Kane is a founder and executive director of Prison Journalism Project. She is an author, educator and veteran journalist with 20 years of experience. She was a staff writer and foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, and her book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs (Harpers Business) was a best-seller, translated into seven languages. Yukari has taught journalism fundamentals, investigative reporting and the Medill Justice Project at Northwestern University and was previously a lecturer at University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. At San Quentin News, where she still serves as an advisor, she developed a curriculum and reader for prison journalism. She is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News’ Emerging Leaders Council and is a 2021-2022 Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow.
Shaheen Pasha, Co-Chair
Shaheen Pasha is a founder and executive director of Prison Journalism Project and an assistant teaching professor at Penn State University, focused on mass incarceration and prison education. Prior to that, Shaheen was an assistant professor at UMass Amherst, where she launched an immersive explanatory journalism class at the Hampshire County Jail, bringing incarcerated and UMass students together to learn. She was awarded the Knight Nieman Visiting Fellowship in 2018 to expand her work teaching journalism behind bars. Shaheen is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of experience at outlets such as Thomson Reuters, CNNMoney and Dow Jones/WSJ.
Melody Drummond Hansen, Secretary
Melody Drummond Hansen is a Silicon Valley attorney whose commercial practice focuses on intellectual property and technology litigation and counseling. Melody’s pro bono practice centers on criminal defense and immigration cases. Her dedication to defending society’s most vulnerable was bolstered by a secondment to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office where she was taught by some of the best trial lawyers in the world and represented incarcerated clients. Since then, Melody has also served as co-lead trial counsel in a RICO case in which her client was acquitted in 45 minutes after being jailed for 4.5 years awaiting trial, and she worked with a team to free a youth offender after 30 years behind bars, when his incarceration was unconstitutionally excessive.
Mei Fong is Chief Communications Officer at Human Rights Watch, leading the organization’s media work and supervising a 50-strong global team spanning communications, digital, multimedia, and campaigns work. Mei was previously director of communications and strategy at the Center for Public Integrity, and prior to that was a Wall Street Journal correspondent, winning a shared Pulitzer for her coverage on China. She is the author of “One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment,” which won a non-fiction award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Foreign Policy magazine listed her on their Top 50 list of US-China influencers. She executive produced an investigative podcast serial on power in the Trump administration that won an Ambie. A graduate from the National University of Singapore, Mei also holds a master’s in International Affairs from Columbia University, and speaks Bahasa, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Wesley Lowery is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, and one of the nation’s leading reporters on issues of race and justice. He led the team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2016 for the creation and analysis of a real-time database to track fatal police shootings in the United States. In 2018, he led a team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Murder With Impunity, an unprecedented look at unsolved homicides in major American cities. His first book, “They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement,” was a New York Times bestseller and was awarded the Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose by the LA Times Book Prizes.
Daveen Trentman is a co-founder and co-owner of the Soze Agency, a social impact creative agency that develops strategic campaigns to uplift the values of compassion, authenticity and equity. Daveen has led major productions including the Museum of Drug Policy, the Museum of Broken Windows and Sex Workers’ Pop Up. Daveen is a co-founder of the Right of Return Fellowship; the only fellowship in the nation dedicated to funding exclusively formerly incarcerated artists. Daveen co-curated The O.G. Experience, the first art exhibit to feature exclusively formerly incarcerated artists, which was awarded a silver Clio Award for Experiential Events. Daveen also serves on the Board of Directors for Freedom Reads. Influenced by a personal connection to the issue, Daveen has invested in working deeply on storytelling campaigns centered around ending mass incarceration.
Cindy is a former corporate attorney who pivoted her career to focus on criminal justice advocacy and philanthropy through the Wenig Family Charitable Fund. She served as General Counsel of Apollo Real Estate Advisors and previously was a partner at the law firm Chadbourne & Parke. Past volunteer endeavors have included serving as pro bono counsel in the rebuilding of The World Trade Center and the development of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. She is a recipient of the Lawyers Alliance of New York’s Cornerstone Award for excellence in pro bono work. Currently, Cindy serves on the Board of Directors of Young New Yorkers, a sentencing diversion program for youth. She is an advisor to Ameelio.org, a free prison communications tech platform, as well as JobPaths, an employment platform for military veterans. Cindy graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and received her J.D. from Columbia Law School.
ABOUT PRISON JOURNALISM PROJECT
Prison Journalism Project is a national, independent, nonpartisan initiative that trains incarcerated writers in the tools of journalism and helps them reach an outside audience via their own publication as well as through partnerships with mainstream media organizations.