CJI Staff

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.

Tina Reynolds

Program Director

Tina Reynolds Co-Founded Women on the Rise Telling HerStory (WORTH) an association of formerly and currently incarcerated women who became empowered by their own experiences while involved in the criminal justice system and beyond. WORTH played a pivotal role in the passage of the Anti-Shackling Bill, Adoption and Safe Families Act and the DOH Oversight Bill. Reynolds received a master’s in social work from Hunter College. Lectured at York College for 10 years within their Behavioral Sciences Department, where she developed and taught “Impact of Incarceration on Families, Communities and Children”. As the Program Director at the Child Center, she developed and implemented a tele-vising program in Queens for incarcerated parents in Rikers, Taconic and Bedford Hills. She has published pieces on the abolition of prisons, the impact of incarceration on women and children, formerly incarcerated women and policy change and is an editor of an anthology “Interrupted Life: Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the United States”.

Raquel 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.

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.