Staff

James Bell : Founder, President
James Bell
Founder, President

James Bell is the Founder and President of the W. Haywood Burns Institute. The Burns Institute has worked in over 200 counties in 23 states to engage justice stakeholders and communities across the country to build equity in the administration of justice.  He has trained and addressed thousands of human…

Email: jbell@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x101
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Tshaka Barrows : Executive Director
Tshaka Barrows
Executive Director

Tshaka Barrows is a founding member of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI). As Executive Director he works closely with the Executive Team to advance the Burns Institute’s mission to protect and improve the lives of communities of color and poor people. His work involves strategic planning, organizational development, financial…

Email: tbarrows@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x106
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Samantha Mellerson : Chief of Strategy and Impact
Samantha Mellerson
Chief of Strategy and Impact

Samantha Mellerson is the Chief of Strategy and Impact with the W. Haywood Burns Institute. Sam brings over 15 years of experience working with issues of social justice, racial and ethnic equity, education, diversity, youth justice, child welfare and wellbeing. She also brings a depth of knowledge around nonprofit capacity…

Email: smellerson@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100
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Michael Finley : Chief of Strategy and Implementation
Michael Finley
Chief of Strategy and Implementation

Michael Finley is the Chief of Strategy and Implementation with the W. Haywood Burns Institute. Michael has nearly two decades of experience working to reduce racial and ethnic disparities on a national policy level and in local jurisdictions across the country. Michael joined the Burns Institute in 2001 as a…

Email: mfinley@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:(415) 321-4100 x 237
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Pamela Fong : Director of Finance
Pamela Fong
Director of Finance

Pamela Fong is responsible for the financial health of the BI. An Oakland native, Pamela brings more than twenty years of executive experience in the Bay Area nonprofit sector, having secured and managed over $35 million in public and private funding including major federal awards from the Department of Labor,…

Email: pfong@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x 113
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Carlos Carmona : Bookkeeper and Contracts Administrator
Carlos Carmona
Bookkeeper and Contracts Administrator

Carlos has been a Bookkeeper and Contracts Administrator for the BI since April 2015, where he assists the Finance and Operations team with the day-to-day financial organization of the agency. Since a teenager, Carlos has worked on expanding a degree of internal equanimity which helps him facilitate a thoughtful and…

Email: ccarmona@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x109
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Laura John Ridolfi : Director of Policy
Laura John Ridolfi
Director of Policy

Laura John Ridolfi is the Director of Policy for the BI. She provides technical assistance to BI sites in analyzing whether and to what extent policies and practices contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in youth justice systems. She also assists in developing local strategies to reduce disparities. Prior to the BI,…

Email: lridolfi@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x108
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Anna Wong : Senior Policy Associate
Anna Wong
Senior Policy Associate

Anna Wong is a Senior Policy Associate with the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI). She provides technical assistance to BI sites, analyzes data, assists in developing local strategies to reduce disparities, conducts policy research, and facilitates training for youth justice professionals around the country. Prior to joining the BI, Anna…

Email: awong@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x112
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Khalid Samarrae : Policy Associate
Khalid Samarrae
Policy Associate

Khalid Samarrae has been a Policy Associate with the Burns Institute since February 2015. He was born in Baghdad, Iraq and graduated from the University of New Orleans in 2010 with a degree in Political Science and a degree in Law from Tulane University in May 2014. Khalid most recently…

Email: ksamarrae@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x 105
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Tracy Benson : Director of the Community Justice Network for Youth
Tracy Benson
Director of the Community Justice Network for Youth

Tracy is an organizer from the Midwest with over 20 years of experience doing local grassroots community and base building, statewide policy and advocacy, and national youth justice organizing work.  She joined the CJNY Advisory Council in 2002 and came onto staff as a Regional Manager in 2010. She then…

Email: tbenson@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x115
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Sandra Sosa : Community Engagement Network Organizer
Sandra Sosa
Community Engagement Network Organizer

Sandra Sosa is a Community Engagement Network Organizer with the W. Haywood Burns Institute.  Sandra brings over 18 years of experience in working to create a safe space for endangered youth in communities to listen, share, learn, and heal together so that they may flourish and thrive. Born and raised…

Email: ssosa@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:(415) 321-4100 ext. 239
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Manuel La Fontaine : Community Engagement Network Organizer
Manuel La Fontaine
Community Engagement Network Organizer

Manuel La Fontaine is the Community Engagement Network Organizer for Community Justice Network for Youth (CJNY). Prior to joining the Institute, Manuel spent over 8 years with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and is a co-founding member of All Of Us Or None, an organization comprised of formerly-incarcerated people…

Email: mlafontaine@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:(415) 321-4100
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Gina Peralta : Director of Site Management
Gina Peralta
Director of Site Management

Gina Peralta is the Director of Site Management at the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI). She is responsible for developing technical assistance strategies for jurisdictions around the country committed to reducing racial and ethnic disparities.  Gina is a passionate social justice advocate devoted to ensuring that system-involved individuals are treated…

Email: gperalta@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x104
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Roxana Matiella : Senior Site Manager
Roxana Matiella
Senior Site Manager

Roxana Matiella is the Senior Site Manager with the W. Haywood Burns Institute.  Roxana brings approximately 25 years of experience working with child welfare, mental health, youth and adult justice systems.  Roxana has dedicated the past ten years working exclusively within social justice reform. Roxana’s diverse experience and knowledge with crucial system partners bring insight and…

Email: RMatiella@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x 242
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Joanna Lowry : Site Manager
Joanna Lowry
Site Manager

Joanna Lowry is a Site Manager with the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI). She is responsible for providing technical assistance to jurisdictions across the country aimed at advancing racial and ethnic equity in local justice systems. Joanna has extensive experience and expertise working directly with system-involved youth. She utilizes a…

Email: JLowry@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:(415) 321-4100 x 117
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Christopher James : Site Manager
Christopher James
Site Manager

Christopher James is a Site Manager working to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in adult and youth justice systems nationwide. He comes to the Burns Institute with the hopes of directly engaging system stakeholders on behalf of communities of color, which are all too often not given a voice in…

Email: cjames@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:(415) 321-4100 x 103
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Airto Morales : Site Manager
Airto Morales
Site Manager

Airto Morales is a Site Manager at the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI). Airto’s Social/Criminal Justice career sprung from a critical consciousness that arose from a firsthand narrative of having spent over a decade of his own life navigating California’s penal system. Formal and informal education was a definite catalyst…

Email: amorales@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:(415) 321-4100 x 102
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