ESPHS Announces Inaugural Cohort for Educator Think Tank (2024)

The 37 educators comprising The Collaboratory for Justice Education will develop learning resources for justice education nationwide.

February 29, 2024

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site (ESPHS) is pleased to announce the inaugural cohort of the Collaboratory for Justice Education. The 37 members selected represent 15U.S. states and a wide range of educational expertise, all united by a shared passion for justice education.

Through the Collaboratory for Justice Education, these members will contribute to creating educational materials tailored for educators and students nationwide, so that they may be empowered to inform and to effect change in the criminal justice system, both nationally and at the local level. The Collaboratory’s mission also extends beyond the traditional education realm, reaching into the corridors of the justice system and broader communities.

“We are thrilled to welcome these members into our very first cohort of the Collaboratory for Justice Education at Eastern State Penitentiary,” says Dr. Kerry Sautner, President and CEO. “The breadth of skills, expertise, and lived experiences within our criminal legal system will provide the true diversity of perspective that we at Eastern State believe is critical for effecting change.”

“We are passionate about the transformative power of education as a catalyst for change,” Dr. Sautner continues. “And we believe that, together, we can find innovative solutions for understanding complex issues, expand our nation’s understanding of justice, and illuminate the path toward a more equitable and fair justice system in America.”


Eileen M. Ahlin, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Criminal Justice, School of Public Affairs, Penn State Harrisburg, Middletown, PA. Her recent research appears in Crime & Delinquency, Justice Quarterly, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Aggression and Violent Behavior, Race and Justice, and The Prison Journal. She is author or co-author of several books and edited volumes, including Violence in the Heights: The Torn Social Fabric of Inner-City Neighborhoods (Routledge, 2023) and Taking Problem-Solving Courts to Scale: Diverse Applications of the Specialty Court Model (Lexington Books, 2021). Dr. Ahlin teaches Corrections and Research Methods in Criminal Justice at Penn State Harrisburg and Penn State World Campus.

CherylAnne Amendola, Middle School History Department Chair, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ.

Dr. Ashley M. Appleby, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Endicott College, Beverly, MA. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University, Newark - School of Criminal Justice and her B.A. in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Quinnipiac University. She is a student alumnus and trained instructor with the International Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, along with a trained instructor and volunteer for the NJ-Step and Petey Greene Programs, which provide higher education in prisons across the United States.

Kim Barben, Educator, Great Valley High School, Malvern, PA. She attended Millersville University for her undergraduate degree in Social Studies Secondary Education and earned her master’s from St. Joseph’s University in Reading Education.

Erin Bernard, Executive Director, The Bridge Way School, PA's first and only recovery high school serving youth in recovery from substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. She is the founder of the now-retired Philadelphia Public History Truck, an award-winning mobile museum project which examined issues of urban crisis alongside Philadelphia community members. Bernard is a doctoral student in Temple University's Executive Educational Leadership program.

Natalie Ciervo, Vice Principal, Camden Academy Charter High School, Camden, NJ. She previously served on the Teacher Advisory board at the National Constitution Center, where she helped write the Civil Dialogue toolkit and led teacher workshops to help teachers implement challenging conversations in their classrooms. In 2016 she was voted Teacher of the Year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and obtained her master's degree in Public Policy and Administration from Rutgers University. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Rider University, with a focus in Civil Discourse.

Ryan Codine

Charles P. Cunha Ph.D., Adjunct Lecturer, Cal State University – Fullerton, Fullerton, CA. He possesses a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Capella University and is a United States Armed Forces Veteran.

Serge Danielson-Francois, Educator, Academy of the Sacred Heart, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Kevin-Paul Edwards, Educator, The School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.

Sheila Edwards, Educator, Sierra Vista Middle School, Covina, CA. Her most recent awards include California Teacher of the Year finalist, Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year, and Congressional Medal of Honor Character Education Teacher of the Year.

Trish Everett, Educational Designer & Instructional Coach, i-Tech for Schools, South Florida Division. Trish has nearly two decades of experience in education, primarily in classroom instruction of American Government & Psychology, but also working in museums, instructional coaching, and professional development settings.

Thomas Fulbright, Educator, Hope Street Academy, Topeka, KS. He was honored as the 2018 Kansas History Teacher of the Year by Gilder Lehrman and the 2023 James Madison Fellow for the State of Kansas.

Erica Golle, Educator, Bergen County Technical School, Teterboro Campus, Teterboro, NJ. Erica teaches in the Law and Justice Major, with concentrations on government, public policy, and criminology. She is also an adjunct instructor of two SUPA classes, Sociology 101 and Gender Studies 101.

Dr. David C. Hayes, Educator, Screenwriter and Novelist, Howell, MI. He consults and speaks abroad as a forensic behavioralist and criminologist as well as teaches and designs collegiate courses in psychology, English, and communications. His academic research has recently focused on higher education in prison settings. He holds a Ph.D. and master's degree in forensic psychology from Walden University and also teaches communications and psychology for law enforcement organizations and within the Michigan Department of Corrections. He is a licensed professional investigator in the State of Michigan.

Amy Hufnagel, Assistant Director, Sing Sing Prison Museum, Ossining, NY.

Kevin Jackson,Educator, Petaluma High School, Petaluma, CA. He is a member of the National Constitution Center Teacher Advisory Committee and a Constitution 101 Fellow, as well as a member of the iCivics California Teacher Fellowship.

Brittni Jennings, Educator, The School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. In 2019, she was one of 60 Philadelphia-based teachers awarded the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and the recipient of the Changing Lives Award by the Change Our Future Foundation in 2022. Brittni is the 2023 recipient of The David McCullough Prize for Excellence in Public History.

Dr. Robyn Kelso, Coordinator, Kansas State Department of Education.

Jennifer Luneau, Educator, The School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.

Lois MacMillan, Educator, Grants Pass High School, Grants Pass, OR. She has been honored as Oregon’s History Teacher of the Year, a James Madison Fellow, and Grammy Museum’s Jane Ortner Award for using music in the non-music classroom.

Laura McFarren, Educator, Derby North Middle School, Derby, KS. In recent years, Laura has led professional development for fellow teachers at the state and national level, working with both the Kansas Department of Education as a Field Educator and the Bill of Rights Institute as a Professional Development Instructor.

Hilary D. Moore, J.D., Esq., Adjunct Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA. Hilary Moore received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University (2002) and her law degree from Mercer University (2005). She is currently a pro bono attorney and an adjunct professor, teaching Criminology and Criminal Justice at the undergraduate level and Restorative Justice at the graduate level. Since 2023, she has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Reaching Out From Within, a re-entry support and curriculum provider. She has also been a member of the Harrisonburg, Virginia criminal justice reform group, The Valley Justice Coalition since 2021.

Dr. Etta Faye Morgan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS. She is a graduate of The University of Alabama with an Interdisciplinary Degree in Criminal Justice and Women’s Studies.

Samuel North, Educator, Ossining Union Free School District, Ossining, NY. He also teaches college U.S. History inside New York's Green Haven Correctional Facility, served as a School Board Trustee in his home city, and served on the boards of the Sing Sing Prison Museum and the Black Diamonds Academic Success, Inc.

Amy Palo, Educator, Cornell High School, Coraopolis, PA. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois Springfield (M.A. Political Science) and Penn State University (B.A. Secondary Education- Social Studies). She is Pennsylvania’s 2022 Gilder Lehrman History Teacher of the Year and 2018 James Madison Fellow, as well as member of Retro Report, iCivics and National Constitution Center educator networks.

Dr. Paige Reed (they/them), Program Director and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Mary Baldwin University, Staunton, VA. They received their Ph.D. in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Behavioral Science from Nova Southeastern University. They are a certified Inside Out Instructor, a board member at the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center, and on the Queen City Collaborators Local Pre-Trial Assessment Team.

Jill Reichman

Christine Tartaro, Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice, Stockton University, Galloway, NJ. She has a B.A. in History from The College of New Jersey and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University. Dr. Tartaro previously worked as a researcher for the Police Foundation, the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, and the New Jersey Department of Corrections. She is the author of Suicide and Self-Harm in Prisons and Jails, 2nd edition (Lexington), and Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology: A Text/Reader.

Dr. Mecca K. Terry, Lecturer, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC. Dr. Terry has worked in a variety of capacities in the criminal justice field, including as a Case Manager at a halfway house, a Probation Officer, and Court Services Supervisor, and has 16 years of teaching experience.

Megan Thompson, Educator, Osseo Senior High School, Osseo, MN. She is a James Madison Fellow, Constitution Center TAC Leader, RetroReport Ambassador, iCivics Educator, and Sphere 100 Fellow.

Gabriel Valdez, K-12 Instructional Coach, Fort Worth Independent School District, Fort Worth, TX

Dina Violante, Educator, Union County Vocational-Technical Schools, Scotch Plains, NJ.

Ryan Werenka, Educator, Troy High School, Troy, MI. He was named the 2021 Michigan History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Ryan serves as a teacher adviser for the National Constitution Center, Retro Report, C-SPAN, iCivics, PBS NewsHour Classroom, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Dustin Widener

Jennifer Welch

Sue Witmer, Educator, Northeastern Senior High School, Manchester, PA.

About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site:
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site interprets the legacy of American criminal justice reform, from the nation’s founding through to the present day, within the long-abandoned cellblocks of the nation’s most historic prison.

Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells held approximately 85,000 people during its 142 years of operation, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is open for tours year-round. Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; award-winning exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.

In recent years, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has been awarded the prestigious Excellence in Exhibitions award by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the nation’s highest award in exhibition development and design, for its exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration, as well as the Institutional Award for Special Achievement from the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and the Trustee Emeritus Award for Stewardship from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The LEAD Fellowship, formerly called The Returning Citizens Tour Guide Project, has won the EdCom Award for Innovation in Museum Education by the American Alliance of Museums.

For more information, visit and follow Eastern State Penitentiary on Facebook, Instagram, X, Threads, and Tik Tok.


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In today’s #JusticeEd news, @EasternState Penitentiary announces the inaugural cohort of its Collaboratory for Justice Education. Learn more at #JusticeEdCollab


ESPHS Announces Inaugural Cohort for Educator Think Tank (2024)


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