Meet Our Experts

NBWJI’s experts include community organizers, lawyers, mental health providers, policy analysts, public health professionals, and criminologists.

Sydney McKinney, Ph.D, MPH, MA

Executive Director

Dr. McKinney is deeply committed to advancing rigorous research, policy, and technical assistance that lifts up the voices of system-impacted Black women, girls and gender-nonconforming people. Under her leadership, NBWJI’s research and advocacy will demonstrate the importance of centering the experiences of Black women, girls, and gender nonconforming people in efforts to end mass incarceration and how critical it is that our society advance new models of justice that are rooted in honoring the dignity of all people and promote individual and collective healing. Dr. McKinney has over 15 years of experience in the areas of child welfare and justice reform, leading and implementing research and evaluation in applied settings. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology and an M.A. in law and society from New York University, as well as an M.P.H from Columbia University.

Janaé Bonsu, Ph.D, MA, LMSW

Director of Research and Advocacy

Janaé Bonsu (she/her) is an activist researcher and Licensed Master Social Worker committed to Black women and nonbinary people through research, policy, and practice. Janaé comes to NBWJI with a decade of pertinent research experience in the fields of criminal legal reform, youth justice, and child welfare. She has extensive experience designing, implementing, analyzing, and sharing research in a variety of community-based and institutional settings. She found a passion in providing strategic research support for grassroots campaigns concerned with gendered and racialized policing. Janaé completed a Ph.D. in social work at the University of Illinois-Chicago where her dissertation research focused on the intersection of gender-based interpersonal and institutional violence in Black communities and the impact of that violence on safety-related empowerment. She also earned a B.A. in experimental psychology and criminal justice from the University of South Carolina and an M.A. in social work, social policy, and social administration from the University of Chicago.

Trevariana Mason, MS

Research Associate

Trevariana Mason has spent most of her career and educational journey working to provide visibility for disadvantaged populations. As she developed an understanding of the criminal and social justice system, her outlook on justice changed. Throughout her career, she has focused on “the talk:” conversations Black parents use to prepare their children for police encounters, marginalized groups experiences throughout the court proceedings, community policing, incarceration and social networks, and women in prison. She has also worked with family dependency treatment courts to encourage healing and strengthening of families. Trevariana holds a B.S in criminal and social justice from Central Michigan University as well as an M.S in criminal justice and a community engagement certification from Michigan State University.

Aishatu Yusuf, MPA


Aishatu Yusuf has spent the majority of her career working within multiple social systems to create better outcomes for marginalized youth, young people, and their families. Throughout her career, she has focused on child safety, youth, and adult legal system reform, child protection, and education policy. With the belief that change must be envisioned through an intersectional lens that captures race and gender identity, Aishatu has worked to reduce the education, health, and employment barriers for formerly incarcerated women, evaluated the strengths and needs of girls in gangs, and worked with local and federal policymakers to create recommendations focused on the de-criminalization of girls in schools. At NBWJI, Aishatu leads our work that addresses school to confinement pathways for Black girls and other girls of color.  In addition to her role at NBWJI, Aishatu also serves as the Director of Innovation Programs at Impact Justice. Aishatu holds two bachelor's degrees from the University of Utah and a master’s degree in public administration from Northeastern University.

Board of Directors

Image by Joe deSousa
Monique W. Morris, Ed.D

Board Chair

Brooklyn, NY

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Isis Sapp-Grant, LMSW

Board Member

Brooklyn, NY

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Ayana Curry, Esq.

Board Member

Bay Area, CA