Safe & Just Michigan Policy Analyst Josh Hoe recently attended a two-day training in Detroit along with several other SJM staffers. These are his impressions of the event, hosted by JustLeadershipUSA.

On July 20-21, Just Leadership USA (JLUSA) hosted a two-day emerging leader training in Detroit for justice-impacted people. Detroit represents the epicenter of an over-reliance on incarceration in Michigan. According to Offender Tracking and Information System (OTIS) data, Wayne County residents account for 29 percent of people incarcerated in state prisons and 39.6 percent of those serving 20 years or more.

Director of Outreach and Alumni Engagement at JLUSA Ronald Simpson-Bey explained the importance holding their emerging leaders training in Detroit:

“At JLUSA, we believe that those who are closest to the problem are closest to the solutions, but furthest away from resources and power. Being that Detroit has the largest community of directly impacted people in the state of Michigan, the importance of Detroit being the host city for JLUSA’s Emerging Leaders event reflects our organizational values and goals of centering the voices of directly impacted people and communities.”

More than 100 people from all over Michigan and surrounding states participated in the Emerging Leaders training. Several employees of Safe & Just Michigan were in attendance including Outreach Director Troy Rienstra who felt the training reinforced the importance of working with criminal justice impacted people.

“As much as I benefitted from all of the training sessions, what moved the most was hearing Deanna Hoskins, president and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA, project the vision of working more closely with directly impacted leaders in Michigan by forming a Midwest Leading With Conviction cohort.”

JLUSA refers to its training method as “Breakthrough Action Leadership,” which highlights the importance of active practice of responsibility, self-reflection and creating collective leadership. Prior to arrival, everyone had to apply, be accepted and complete an introduction to Breakthrough Action Leadership and several assignments.

The first day focused on leadership, while the second day’s training centered on policy, organizing and developing advocacy skills. The training really opened my eyes to how leadership is about lifting up the other people you are collaborating with in the work. What an amazing experience this two-day event was.

SJM Outreach Specialist Sloan Gibson took home how important local connections are to leadership. “One quote (from the training) that stood out to me was, ‘Be interested in your community, not yourself,’” Sloan said. “It made me think about when it comes to the work that we do, we have to remember we are trying to create the greater good, not just improve our own personal situation.”

The training came at no cost to participants and meals were provided. Training was located at the Saint Regis Hotel day one and at the Athenium Suite Hotel for day two. Co-sponsors of the event included: Safe & Just Michigan, ACLU of Michigan, American Friends Service Committee Michigan Criminal Justice Program, Forcefully Organizing Resources for Community Empowerment (FORCE), Detroit Justice Center, Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, LUCK Inc., M.A.D.E. Institute, Nation Outside, and the State Appellate Defender’s Office.

~Joshua Hoe
Policy Analyst