CJI Staff

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Aleah Bacquie Vaughn

Executive Director

Aleah Bacquie Vaughn, Executive Director of the CJI Fund, was previously Deputy Director at the American Committee on Africa and The Africa Fund, where she championed the release of political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, and divestment from companies doing business with South Africa’s apartheid government. In South Africa, Aleah worked for the South African Council of Churches to decrease violence in the East Rand; on the Independent Electoral Commission, to educate communities about voting in the country’s historic first democratic elections; for the World Council on Religion and Peace, which first called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and for the Women’s Development Foundation, which supported electing women to national government. Returning to the US in 1996, Aleah worked on the Jubilee campaign to cancel African debt, and demand HIV/AIDS medication for African countries. As Director of Social Justice Ministries for Riverside Church, she supervised 13 social justice ministries, including The Sharing Fund, and Prison Ministry. She also co-created the Prison Family Support Group and Sojourners, a ministry to support and advocate for releasing people detained in U.S. facilities. She then served as the Director of Grants and Training at the Peace Development Fund. Aleah is the granddaughter of Irene Morgan, of the Morgan v. Virginia Supreme Court decision against segregation in interstate travel. The Freedom Rides supported her case. Aleah is the proud, fierce mother of two black boys.

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Lizan Highland

Operations Director

Lizan was born in Barbados and moved to New York, where she currently resides in Brooklyn. She is an active volunteer for New York Cares, where she dedicates her time and efforts to ending hunger and providing meals to those in need. Her dream is to start an organization for young immigrants to guide them to better opportunities and ultimately naturalization. A graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Lizan is passionate about improving the justice system, including ending discriminatory practices like stop and frisk. Her ultimate life goal is to design a communal atmosphere where justice is fair for all.

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Raquel Marion-Virgo

Director of Development

Raquel Virgo has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector where she has focused on development/fundraising. Prior to joining CJI, Raquel served in varying capacities in Development at social justice organizations in California, Connecticut, and New York, including JustLeadershipUSA where she served as Director of Development. In that role, Raquel played an instrumental role in JLUSA's rapid growth from a 3-year old start-up organization with a $1.8 million budget, to a national leader in advocacy and leadership development of formerly incarcerated people with a budget of over $20 million--in less than two years' time. In addition to raising significant funding to transform our criminal legal system, she has also led fundraising efforts on behalf of local, statewide, and national organizations focused on youth development, housing and homelessness, education, and entrepreneurship. Raquel received her Master's in Political Science with a focus on Urban Policy & Administration from Brooklyn College, and a Bachelor's in English from St. John's University.

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Zachary Hendrickson

Manager of Special Projects

Zachary is a graduate of Columbia University’s Political Science and Religion program, where he worked for several years as part of the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life. Since moving to New York from rural Kansas, Zachary has spent considerable time organizing around mass incarceration, state violence, and social justice. Perhaps most impactful were the six months he spent as an English tutor at the Horizon maximum-security juvenile detention center in the South Bronx. He credits his time working with these young people for solidifying his political and moral worldview and solidifying his abolitionist mindset. Zachary remains active, organizing with groups like the Democratic Socialists of America and the Radical People’s Assembly.

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Fanny Bueso

Finance and Operations Manager

A native New Yorker born and raised in Brooklyn, Fanny received her Associate’s degree in Science for Health Professions in 2007. Fanny has previously held positions in the public and private sectors, most recently as the Executive Assistant to the CFO of St. Joseph College. In her current role, Fanny supports Director of Operations Lizan Highland to help keep the organization running smoothly.

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Elana McGovern

Grants Management Associate

Elana’s experience designing grant application software for end users in platforms like Submittable comes from her tenure at the National Science Teaching Association and, most recently, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Both institutions approach education equity from a social justice perspective and prioritize underserved and underrepresented groups. In her last position, Elana made the organization’s grant application process more accessible and inclusive, which she is working to bring to her work at CJI. In addition to education equity, Elana’s advocacy interests include public schools, LGBTQ rights, veterans, and reproductive and environmental justice. As CJI’s technical support point person, Elana works with grant applicants and existing CJI grantees on everything from submitting applications in Submittable to generating reporting data.

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Jordan Moeller

Development and Communications Manager

Jordan is a communications and development specialist with years of experience in grants management, coalition building, and creative storytelling. Jordan works under the direction of Raquel Marion-Virgo to advance fundraising and communications efforts, as well as broadening CJI’s capacity to launch new key projects and initiatives. A longtime Seattle resident, Jordan cut his teeth in the nonprofit sector as an organizer and canvasser at Washington Community Action Network, fighting for causes like universal healthcare, eviction reform, and ending punitive criminal sentencing at the state level. Most recently, Jordan served as Assistant Executive Director at The Restorative Center, a small organization doing innovative restorative justice work, after overseeing their Restorative Justice Clemency and Parole pilot program as the Project Manager. Outside of his work in the nonprofit sector, Jordan is an award-winning comedian and active member of two sketch comedy teams in New York City.