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Meet Our Experts

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

Sydney McKinney, PhD, 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-Love, PhD, MA, LMSW

Director of Research and Advocacy

Dr. Janaé Bonsu-Love (she/her) is the director of research and advocacy of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute (NBWJI). Dr. Bonsu-Love comes to NBWJI as an activist-scholar, policy advocate, and Licensed Master Social Worker committed to ending criminalization while supporting the healing of Black women, girls and nonbinary people. She has a decade of research and advocacy experience on issues spanning the criminal and juvenile legal systems with particular interest and expertise in the areas of policing, reentry, and gender-based violence. Dr. Bonsu-Love has extensive experience designing, implementing, analyzing, and sharing research in a variety of settings, and found a passion in providing strategic research support for grassroots campaigns concerned with gendered and racialized criminalization. She holds a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Illinois-Chicago, an M.A. in social work, policy, and administration from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in experimental psychology and criminal justice from the University of South Carolina.

Abbi Leman

Senior Director of Communications

Abbi Leman is an editor, writer, and communications strategist. She has been working in the nonprofit and higher education fields for nearly 20 years, providing communications expertise across a range of areas for mission-driven organizations. She has led communications strategies at the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance and the CUNY School of Law, a public interest law school. She began her career at the Vera Institute of Justice. Abbi holds an M.A. in applied linguistics from Columbia University and a B.A. in English and history from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

Khaila Mickens

Research Assistant

Khaila Mickens is a former educator with a lifelong commitment to using learning and storytelling to advance social justice. Joining the team as a research assistant, she is particularly passionate about uplifting the voices and experiences of Black girls, women, and nonbinary femmes, who are often silenced while bearing the heaviest burdens in their families, workplaces, and broader society. She holds a B.S. in social analysis and research from Brown University and has experience employing quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate education policy and investigate research questions around race, gender, and sexuality.

Tenaj Moody-Perry

Director of Capacity Building & Learning

Tenaj Moody-Perry embodies an unyielding commitment to fostering resilience, healing, and empowerment among justice-impacted survivors. Her upbringing in North Philadelphia as an Afro-Latina millennial marked by triumph over domestic violence, poverty, and parental incarceration ignited a deep understanding of the transformative strength within her own story. As the director of capacity building and learning, she leads initiatives to enhance services and programs, ensuring reentry pathways of healing and justice for women, girls and non-binary people.  

Tenaj brings over 12 years of experience across research and evaluation initiatives for higher education within correctional facilities and gender-specific programming for justice-impacted women and survivors of gender-based violence. She has developed and implemented strategies that drive positive change and break victimization ties to incarceration. She is the founder of Light To Life and a two-time best-selling author. She holds a master’s degree in criminal justice and is a licensed behavior specialist.

Through her diverse roles in nonprofit program management, Tenaj has brought her extensive knowledge in prison education, victim advocacy, and trauma-informed services. Tenaj's journey stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to creating a safer, more equitable society for Black women and girls.

Madina P. Ouedraogo, MPA-PNP

Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate

Madina P. Ouedraogo, MPA-PNP (she/her) is a Burkinabé- American from Newark, New Jersey. She is an emerging professional working at the intersection of public policy and advocacy. She currently serves as the senior policy and advocacy associate of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute. Madina is an alumna of the New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where she earned her master of public administration in public and nonprofit management & policy with a specialization in advocacy and political action. She is also a graduate of The College of New Jersey School of Humanities and Social Sciences, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and earned a B.A. in sociology with a specialization in nonprofit and community development and double minors in women’s and gender studies and African American studies. As a Black Feminist, Madina prides herself on being an advocate for Black women and girls.

Trúc Towns

Executive Assistant

Trúc Towns is passionate about business operations and applying those systems to aid in the healing and growth of underserved communities. Trúc is currently the executive assistant at National Black Women’s Justice Institute, where she brings a wealth of expertise from her 10 years of experience in administration and business operations. Trúc is dedicated to aiding the team in driving evidence-based solutions and fostering positive change in the lives of healing Black women, girls and nonbinary people. Her passion for working with underserved communities is reflected in her work in the domestic violence field and free health care clinics/research in her home state. She is a first generation college graduate with a bachelor's degree in health administration from the University of Utah and has experiences in developing high quality administrative systems across a wide array of professional settings.

Board of Directors

Image by Joe deSousa
Monique Couvson, EdD
(formerly Monique W. Morris)

Board Chair

Brooklyn, NY

Image by Joe deSousa
Isis Sapp-Grant, LMSW

Board Member

Brooklyn, NY

Image by Joe deSousa
Ayana Curry, Esq.

Board Member

Bay Area, CA

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