Solutions to Post-Incarceration Employment and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Businesses and Universities


What can businesses and universities do to promote the successful reentry of people returning home from prisons and jails? There is an increasing awareness that successful reentry improves the social, economic, and moral well-being of our society. Central to this awareness is an acknowledgment that effective education, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities allow formerly incarcerated people both to advance themselves and our nation. However, a focus on the critical roles played by businesses and universities is often absent from discussions about solutions.

This forum—a joint effort by the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School and the Columbia University Center for Justice—is an unprecedented undertaking to address these critical issues. We will convene scholars, policy-makers, nonprofits, business leaders and people directly affected by incarceration to better understand key ways that businesses and universities can bolster successful reentry.


Friday, April 22, 2016
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

This event is by invitation only. If you are interested in being added to the invitation list, please contact [email protected].

Co-Sponsored by

8:00–8:30 a.m.
  Breakfast and Registration 8:30–8:45 a.m.

Welcome and Introduction

Lee C. Bollinger
Seth Low Professor
Columbia University

Damon Phillips
Lambert Family Professor of Social Enterprise
Co-director, Tamer Center for Social Enterprise
Columbia Business School

8:45–9:45 a.m.

Keynote Speaker

Jeremy Travis
John Jay College of Criminal Justice


9:45–10:45 a.m.

Academic Insights

Ifeoma Ajunwa (Moderator)
Assistant Professor of Law, University of the District of Columbia
Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University

Greg Fairchild PhD '02
E. Thayer Bigelow Associate Professor of Business Administration;
Institute for Business in Society Academic Director
Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Devah Pager
Professor of Sociology and Public Policy
Harvard University;
Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Michael Stoll
Professor of Public Policy and Urban Planning
Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Urban Poverty
UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

José Zubizarreta
Assistant Professor, Decision, Risk and Operations
Columbia Business School;
Affiliated Faculty with Department of Statistics
Columbia University


10:45–11:15 a.m.
  Coffee Break 11:15 a.m.–
12:15 p.m.

Keynote Speaker

Glenn E. Martin

Founder and President
JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA)

12:15–1:45 p.m.

Working Lunch - Round table Discussions
"SME Approaches to Hiring"
Moderated by Joel Hommes, Wash Cycle Laundry

"Nonprofits as Employment Facilitators"
Moderated by Rich Robbins '01, Upper West Strategies

"Large Business Approaches to Hiring"
Moderated by Christine Chan, XPO Logistics

1:45–2:45 p.m.

Business Insights

Bill Keller (Moderator)
Founding Editor-in-Chief
The Marshall Project

Lynn Allen
Technical Evangelist

John Dillow
Senior Product Manager

Frederick Hutson
Chief Executive Officer

Kathryn Wylde
President and CEO
The Partnership for New York City

2:45–3:45 p.m.

Community and Government Insights

Geraldine Downey (Moderator)
Professor of Psychology
Director, the Center for Justice
Columbia University

Ronald Day
Associate Vice President
Fortune Society

Paul Keefe
Supervising Attorney
New York City Commission on Human Rights

Victoria Sharp, MD
Former Director, The Spencer Cox Center for Health
St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital

3:45–4:00 p.m.
  Afternoon Break 4:00–4:30 p.m.

Putting the Pieces Together

Pamela Valera
Assistant Professor, Sociomedical Sciences
Columbia University Medical Center

4:30–4:45 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Geraldine Downey
Professor of Psychology
Director, the Center for Justice
Columbia University


Executive Directors who would like to attend future forums can contact: [email protected].

References and Links Provided by Speakers

Ifeoma Ajunwa

The Modern Day Scarlet Letter, Fordham Law Review and Columbia Public Law Research Paper

Lynn Allen

Releasing confidence: prison entrepreneurship programs offer path, San Francisco Chronicle
Female prisoners in Calif. prep for life outside with Autodesk certificate, USA Today
Prison program trains female felons for professional careers, KCRA-TV (NBC, Sacramento)
Women Behind Bars Getting Help Building Technical Skills To Find A Job, KOVR-TV (CBS, Sacramento)

Gregory Fairchild

Second Chances: Darden’s Fairchild Launches Prison Entrepreneurship Program
Interviews with Volunteers from Class of 2014 on their experiences in the program
Prisoners with an eye for profit learn lessons from behind bars, Financial Times
Darden Discoveries: From Inmates to Entrepreneurs

Devah Pager

The Mark of a Criminal Record, American Journal of Sociology
Race a Factor in Job Offers for Ex-Convicts, New York Times
Sequencing Disadvantage: Barriers to Employment Facing Young Black and White Men with Criminal Records, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences
Race at Work: Realities of Race and Criminal Record in the New York City Job Market, Report prepared for the 50th Anniversary of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Episode 697: Help Wanted, Planet Money podcast

Michael Stoll

Perceived Criminality, Criminal Background Checks, and the Racial Hiring Practices of Employers, Journal of Law and Economics
The Effect Of Criminal Background Checks On Hiring Ex-Offenders, Criminology & Public Policy

Jeremy Travis

But They All Come Back: Rethinking Prisoner Reentry, National Institute of Justice

Curated Articles from the Marshall Project (editor-in-chief, Bill Keller)

Start Me Up: Is entrepreneurship the way from prison to prosperity?
11 People who Used to Be in Jail—but are now changing the World. Every Hero has a past.
Café momentum Gives Second Chance to Former Juvenile Offenders. This innovative program aims to take formerly incarcerated youth out of the cycle of crime.
From Life in Prison to a New Life in San Francisco Tech Scene, Huffington Post.

Other References

Bruce Western and Becky Pettit, Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course: Race and Class Inequality in U.S. Incarceration

Jeffery Morenoff and David J. Harding, Incarceration, Prisoner Reentry, and Communities

StartUp Podcast: Happy Ending, and From the Cell to the Sell explores Coss Marte's story on his path from felon to founder, and how he thinks about hiring for his business.

Research on Reentry and Employment collated by the National Institute of Justice.