Meet Our Experts

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

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Sydney McKinney, Ph.D, MPH, MA

Executive Director


Brooklyn, NY

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.

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Aishatu Yusuf, MPA

Associate Director

Issue Areas: School-to-confinement pathways & reentry


Oakland, CA

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.

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Falilah Bilal, MA

Senior Trainer

Issue Areas: Gender-based violence 

Oakland, CA

Falilah “Aisha” Bilal, a member of the NBWJI team, has worked joyously for over 30 years creating innovative, relevant evidence-based strategies to transform, empower and develop individuals, systems, organizations and contemporary thought. Her work is centered in healing practices, empowering youth, self-discovery and issues that systemically impact groups of people. Ms. Bilal specializes in the field of youth development, healing informed organizational development, and strategic fundraising consultation. She holds an MSW and is a practicing drama therapist.

Board of Directors


Monique W. Morris, Ed.D

Board Chair

Brooklyn, NY

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Isis Sapp-Grant, LMSW

Board Member

Brooklyn, NY


Ayana Curry, Esq.

Board Member

Bay Area, CA