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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Pamela Fong : Chief Operations Officer
Pamela Fong
Chief Operations Officer

Pamela Fong is responsible for the leadership, planning, and development of financial, human resource and operational systems at the BI. Her management expertise centers on developing critical infrastructure for nonprofits undergoing tremendous growth, supporting staff in adapting to new processes and ensuring systems are well-aligned with mission, culture, and values.…

Email: pfong@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x 113
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Samantha Mellerson : Chief Program Officer
Samantha Mellerson
Chief Program Officer

Samantha Mellerson is the Chief Program Officer 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 building and…

Email: smellerson@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100
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Michael Finley : Director of Site Development
Michael Finley
Director of Site Development

Michael Finley is the Director of Site Development with the W. Haywood Burns Institute. In this position, Michael will work to develop and enhance BI’s partnerships with national, state and local organizations and stakeholders committed to working to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. Further, he will oversee BI’s involvement in…

Email: mfinley@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:(415) 321-4100 x 237
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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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Malachi Larrabee-Garza : Director of Special Projects
Malachi Larrabee-Garza
Director of Special Projects

Malachi Garza is an Oakland-based organizer, public speaker and curriculum specialist who is currently the Special Projects Director for the W. Haywood Burns Institute. Garza spent nine years as the BI Technical Assistance Manager and BI Director of the Community Justice Network for Youth, a national network of over 200…

Email: mgarza@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:415-321-4100 x110
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Hanâ Zait : Executive Assistant and Office Manager
Hanâ Zait
Executive Assistant and Office Manager

Hanâ Zait is the Executive Assistant and Office Manager at the Burns Institute, where she assists with the day-to-day operations of the BI and works closely with the BI’s leadership to ensure organizational effectiveness, efficiency, and safety. Before joining the BI, Hanâ spent 6 years building community with and advocating…

Email: hzait@burnsinstitute.org
Phone:4153214100 ext. 123
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