Joshua Dubler is an associate professor in the Department of Religion and Classics, where he is presently also the Interim Chair. He is author of Down in the Chapel: Religious Life in an American Prison (FSG, 2013) and co-author of Break Every Yoke: Religion, Justice, and the Abolition of Prisons (Oxford University Press, 2019). With Precious Bedell, he teaches "Incarceration Nation," an abolitionist history of imprisonment in the United States, and with Kristin Doughty, he teaches "the Cultural Politics of Prison Towns," an ethnography lab that explores the carceral geography of the Rochester region. He oversees program development and strategic planning for REJI and serves as P.I. on the program’s grants. | (585) 275-4756

Deputy Director

Eitan Freedenberg oversees day-to-day logistics and strategic planning for REJI's college programs at Attica, Groveland, and Wyoming. He works within the University on faculty recruitment, hiring, and training; curriculum development; grant management; and collaborations with other departments and programs. He serves REJI's students as their primary academic advisor. Additionally, he works with partners at SUNY, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and peer college-in-prison programs to ensure that students have the resources they need to pursue and complete their degrees. He earned his PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester in 2020. In 2023, he was the recipient of UR’s Meliora Award, which “honors a staff member whose work performance exemplifies the University’s motto, Meliora – ever better.” | (585) 210-3618

Assistant Director of Community Outreach

Precious Bedell is a specialist in providing resources to and helping those reentering from prisons and jails on how to navigate complex medical, social, and reentry services. She works with formerly incarcerated individuals to overcome obstacles related to housing, employment, health insurance, and family reunification and support. She oversees REJI's Justice Scholars program, recruiting annual cohorts of formerly incarcerated students in the community to pursue further higher education. She works with community stakeholders to build relationships that bring REJI's vision and mission to fruition. She also co-teaches the undergraduate course "Incarceration Nation" with Joshua Dubler, bringing local and state advocates for prison reform and decarceration to campus to share their work with Rochester's undergraduate population. She is an activist with major campaigns to free vulnerable incarcerated people during the pandemic. | (585) 435-1247

Faculty Coordinator

Marianne Kupin-Lisbin

Department Coordinator

Sebastian Lauer plays a vital role in supporting educational and reentry programs for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. He manages a variety of administrative tasks, including scheduling, enrollment, event planning, and procurement, ensuring that the operations run smoothly and efficiently. He assists with important forms, facilitating transition services, and maintaining accurate student records. He also collaborates with other REJI staff to connect students to learning opportunities and community resources. Passionate about decarceration, Sebastian is dedicated to making a positive impact through greater access to higher education and through community organizing. His commitment to fostering connections between the campus and the community highlights his dedication to advancing educational equity and supporting successful reentry for justice-impacted individuals.

Program Coordinator

Rayna Mandara (they/she) joined REJI in 2020. They are responsible for coordinating extracurricular activities at REJI’s program sites and external partnerships with facilities such as Monroe County Jail. They assist with semesterly upkeep, course enrollment, and communication between the program’s administrators, instructors, and students. Rayna has a continuous vested interest in facilitating environments in which individuals can connect through thoughtful discussion and collaboration.

Reentry Coordinator

Thomas Gant is an accomplished writer, speaker, and facilitator. He is a returning citizen after serving 25 years of incarceration. During that time, he spent 16 years at Attica Correctional Facility, where he earned an associate degree from SUNY Genesee Community College, worked as a peer mentor and facilitator, and was featured in the documentary Encountering Attica and the podcast "Unforbidden Truth." In 2020, he published an essay in the Marshall Project about his work as a prison hospice aide during the Covid pandemic. He is a lifelong learner with a passion for helping people who are transitioning from incarceration back into communities. As REJI's reentry coordinator, he provides reentry support to REJI college program students, links people returning from prisons and jails to health and social services, and mentors formerly incarcerated individuals pursuing higher education in the Rochester area. | (585) 705-9778

Director, Campus and Community Engagement 

Kristin Doughty is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Rochester. She has taught Introduction to Cultural Anthropology in Attica, Groveland, Albion, and Five Points. She is the author of Remediation in Rwanda (U Penn Press, 2016). She is PI with Joshua Dubler on a National Science Foundation grant that supports ethnographic research into the carceral geography of the Rochester region, in conjunction with an undergraduate course, the Cultural Politics of Prison Towns. In her role with REJI, she provides support for reentry programs, including the Justice Scholars and the Alumni Reentry Support Fund.

Director, Bachelor's Degree Program at Attica

Alison Peterman helps to administer the Rochester curriculum at Attica and to support incarcerated students pursuing the University of Rochester BA. She is an associate professor in and co-chair of the Department of Philosophy, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. She teaches with REJI often. Her research is in the history of philosophy, philosophy of science, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind, and she is currently finishing up a book on the great 17th-century philosopher Margaret Cavendish.

Director, Regional Initiatives

Ed Wiltse is a Professor of English and Communication at Nazareth College. He founded and directs the Jail Project, a collaboration between Nazareth and the Monroe County Jail, which over the last twenty years has facilitated meaningful intellectual exchanges between Nazareth students and incarcerated men and women. He has taught college-in-prison courses at Albion, Groveland, and Auburn.

Faculty Steering Committee

  • Kwasi Boaitey, Director of Culturally Responsive Management, Office of Equity and Inclusion; Senior Associate, Department of Health Humanities & Bioethics, School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Gloria Culver, Professor of Biology and former Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences
  • Jack Downey, John Henry Newman Professor of Roman Catholic Studies and Professor of Religion and Classics
  • Kristin Hocker, Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, School of Nursing
  • Allen Topolski, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Art and Art History