Cherise Fanno Burdeen
Cherise Fanno Burdeen has spent more than 20 years working to improve public safety policies and practices across the country. After earning a bachelor’s in public administration from Miami University (Ohio) and a master’s in criminal justice from Indiana University, she began her career with the DOJ's National Institute of Justice. After fieldwork that included time with the Safer Foundation in Chicago and post-9/11 federal service with the Department of Homeland Security, Cherise joined PJI.
Since 2006, Cherise has developed innovative strategies to raise awareness of pretrial justice issues, amassed a broad constituency of criminal justice stakeholder groups, provided technical assistance and training on policy reforms, and engaged in communications and media efforts. She has extensive experience with strategic planning, initiative management, and change efforts across the criminal justice system. She serves as an issue expert for legal and correctional professionals, national and community advocates, the media, influencers, and artists.
Meghan Guevara is an Executive Partner with the Pretrial Justice Institute, where she serves as a member of the leadership team and oversees PJI’s learning communities and technical assistance efforts. She has spent 20 years providing training and technical assistance to criminal justice and human services professionals engaged in systemic justice system reform.
At PJI, she works with elected officials, advocates, policymakers and practitioners in pursuit of safe, fair, and equitable pretrial systems. Meghan began her career as a health educator working with young people in the youth justice and child welfare systems. She received a Master of Public Health degree in social and behavioral sciences from Boston University.
Tenille Patterson is responsible for and oversees the activities and processes that provide core mission support to PJI. Tenille's accounting career began 16 years ago when she worked as an auditor for the global professional services firm PwC. To align her professional aspirations with her spirit of advocacy and social justice, Tenille transitioned into the nonprofit field, working with and for organizations serving the most underserved and disenfranchised.
In her most recent nonprofit leadership experience, Tenille served as chief operating officer of the Center for Urban Families, a human services organization dedicated to supporting fathers and families suffering from the effects of systemic and institutional inequality. Tenille has a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Morgan State University and is a certified public accountant.
Jessica Bizik is the former editor-in-chief at Baltimore STYLE magazine and several other local and national magazines, websites and content delivery platforms.
Jess is a seasoned storyteller and marketing strategist with a 20-year track record for engaging audiences, harnessing technology to create meaningful user experiences, and launching (or re-launching) brands and print/digital products.
In 2016, Jess shifted the focus of her work to become a communications consultant for nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and a select group of Baltimore businesses dedicated to uplifting the community. This work included consulting for the Pretrial Justice Institute, whose staff she joined full-time on November 1, 2019, as the Director of Engagement. Her specialty is helping organizations tell the stories that bring their brand to life — and pairing those stories with best practices across multiple industries and platforms to strengthen their relationships with stakeholders, clients and supporters.
Wendy Blackwell Fortune
Wendy Blackwell Fortune has joined PJI as a Senior Associate, where she will lead PJI’s portfolio of interactive learning events. Prior to joining PJI, Wendy was the Director of the Practitioner’s Leadership Institute at the Center for Urban Families (CFUF), where she developed capacity-building relationships and collaborations with individuals and community. Previously, Wendy served as the Executive Director of the National Children’s Museum, where she began as the Director of Education. During her decade of service, she grew the education and programs departments, developed education initiatives, and shaped the Center for Learning and Innovation. Wendy championed community collaborations that produced replication-model child and caregiver learning together programs.
Wendy enjoys the intersection of family, literacy, and art and shared her passion at CFUF with the Family Reading Circle and other two-generation efforts. Wendy’s museum-school collaboration won a Promising Practice recognition from the Association of Children’s Museum for her work at Port Discovery Children’s Museum. She and her staff were honored with the Judith P. Hoyer Award for Outstanding Service to Children by the Prince Georges County Early Childhood Interagency. She is also an award-winning teacher. Wendy and her eighth grade students received the Daily Point of Light of the Nation from President George H. Bush at the U.S. White House.
Wendy is a mother of two who enjoys being a textile artist and leading programs with children in her spare time. She is a 2016 BaltimoreCorp Elevation Award winner for her ART POWER project where she offers art activities to children ages 5-12 in West Baltimore.
Senior Consultant, Technical Assistance
John Clark is a Senior Consultant for Technical Assistance at the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI). In over thirty years at PJI, John has provided technical assistance to thousands of entities around the country on implementing evidence-based pretrial justice practices. He has authored numerous articles relating to pretrial justice in such publications as: the American Bar Association’s The Improvement of the Administration of Justiceseries; The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice;the Journal of Court Innovation; and Judicature.
He began his career in the pretrial justice field in the 1970s as a pretrial services officer in the District of Columbia. He has a Master’s Degree in the Administration of Justice from American University. He is the recipient of the Ennis J. Olgiati Award from the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies for lifetime commitment to pretrial justice.
Dr. Zaria Davis
Senior Associate, Advocacy & Community Engagement
Dr. Zaria Davis began her career in social work over 20 years ago with experience in mental health and social services in various settings. She has also worked in K-12, higher education, and out-of-school time settings. Zaria served as Executive Director for a local nonprofit in Lincoln Heights, OH for two years, working to move families towards self-sufficiency. In addition, Zaria has worked with various initiatives to support higher education access for those currently and formerly incarcerated. She is passionate in her community advocacy in the areas of pre- and post-incarceration reform.
A graduate of Wilberforce University, Zaria holds a bachelor of the arts in sociology. She obtained her master of social work degree from the University of Cincinnati and doctor of social work degree from Capella University. Zaria is a participatory action researcher and believes that those who are an active part of the community are the voices that lead to change. She is a 2019 Leading with Conviction Fellow with JustLeadershipUSA, and a board member of Dress for Success Cincinnati and the Robert O'Neal Multicultural Art Center (ROMAC).
Her interests include mentoring, social justice, and coaching individuals in their life journey. She enjoys spending time with family, traveling, sci fi, and the arts. Zaria continues to support reentry efforts for women returning home from incarceration and children impacted by mass incarceration.
Associate, Youth Justice Communities
As a former foster youth and child of a formerly incarcerated parent, Shavonte has spent over a decade of her career using her life experiences to support her work in advancing systemic solutions to the distinct challenges and barriers that system-involved youth and their families face. Her background includes working as a case manager for homeless youth and families as well as many years serving as a peer and professional advocate for current and former foster youth. Most recently she served as the Georgia Assistant State Coordinator for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI).
She received her bachelor of arts degree in psychology from San Francisco State University and a juris doctor degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco. While in law school she interned at multiple public interest nonprofits serving low income residents in the San Francisco Bay Area. She continues to use her life experience to mentor and empower young people in her community.
Tamara Odom joined PJI after previous work in technical support roles at ecommerce companies. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Temple University and enjoys taking technology and design courses outside of work. Tamara is a native New Yorker, who enjoys reading and traveling. She loves the city of New Orleans and hates mayonnaise.
Senior Associate, Learning Innovations
Beth Oprisch has worked in the juvenile justice field for more than 28 years. In her role as PJI’s learning innovations senior associate, Beth carries out the work of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) through in-person events, by providing technical assistance, and by overseeing JDAI’s online community platform, JDAIconnect.
Before coming to PJI, Beth was the state JDAI coordinator for Ohio. She is a former superintendent at the Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility and former executive director for the Belmont Harrison District. She is a past president of the Ohio Juvenile Detention Directors Association and former chair of the Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee of the Governor’s Council for Juvenile Justice. Beth served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She has a bachelor of science in social work from Bowling Green State University and a master of arts in counseling from West Virginia University.
Associate, Research & Communications
Specialist, Mission Support