Mairead O'Reilly is an attorney in Vermont Legal Aid's Poverty Law Project. After graduating from UConn Law School in 2016, she moved to Vermont to serve as the 5th Poverty Law Fellow.
Robert Appel now practices law in Hinesburg, after serving 30-plus years in state government including over 11 years as executive director of the state's Human Rights Commission and over 8 years as the state's Defender General.
Robert (Bob) Lafayette currently consults for TCI as an IT Engineer and in Business Development. He is also a paralegal to the law offices of Jacob Durell Esq. Bob Lafayette was elected to the Board of Directors in September of 2017. He lives in South Burlington with his fiancée, two children and their dog Thunder.
Michael Washington graduated summa cum laude from Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts with a major in human services, addiction studies, and is a member of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society for Social Sciences. Formerly incarcerated due to circumstances surrounding addiction, he currently provides counseling and support to persons with significant barriers to employment, primarily ex-offenders, in Bennington, Vermont.
Tom Dalton is an attorney and licensed alcohol and drug counselor. He became aware of injustice in the criminal justice system working with adolescents living with HIV/AIDS in Florida. He later became Director of HIV Services Programs at the Vermont Department of Health. In 2000, he founded Safe Recovery, a professionally-staffed, harm-reduction recovery center for people living with addiction to opioids located in Burlington, Vermont. At Safe Recovery, he started Vermont's first syringe exchange program. In 2013, he helped advocate for Vermont's Good Samaritan Law (by far the strongest in the country), and for a statutory change to permit community-based distribution of Narcan (a nasal spray used to reverse an opioid overdose in progress). In December 2013, he started Vermont's first community-based Narcan distribution site with over 850 documented overdose reversals to date. For many years, he visited Vermont correctional facilities on a weekly basis to provide HIV testing, HCV testing, harm reduction education, re-entry planning and recovery support – but also, to lend a friendly ear willing to listen to what people had to say. Tom is highly committed to making Vermont's criminal justice system work better for everyone.
When Suzi Wizowaty began leading book discussions and writing workshops in the jails in the 1990s, she did so as a teacher and writer who simply believed everyone deserved those opportunities. It was as she came to know inmates and learn about their lives, that it became increasingly clear that locking people up didn't help anyone. In fact, it made things worse. The criminal justice system itself imposed suffering. That had to change. Laws had to change. Therefore in 2008 she ran for the state legislature to work on criminal justice issues (and won). Public service had rewards and challenges, but criminal justice reform was slow. She observed that the general public by and large had no idea how the system actually worked--or understood that it had become the state's last-resort way of addressing poverty, drug addiction and mental illness. So, in 2013, toward the end of her third term, she founded Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform to raise public awareness in order to make greater change possible. Since that work required full-time focus, she left the legislature at the end of her third term.
Bolstered by a change in the national conversation, VCJR has succeeded in opening doors and raising awareness. There is much work to be done, but plans are in place to move the work ahead in multiple ways. In 2017, having launched a strong organization with a solid infrastructure, well-functioning board, new office and fruitful alliances, Suzi felt it was time to turn the work over to new leadership.