Our Full-Time Staff

Rebecca Ginsburg (She/Her/Hers)

EJP’s current director is Rebecca Ginsburg, a University of Illinois faculty member. As a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley she taught in the college program at San Quentin State Prison and became convinced of the necessity of providing quality education programs to incarcerated individuals. After arriving at Illinois as an assistant professor in 2004, she worked with a group of fellow Illinois faculty, graduate students, and community members to found EJP. She has a Ph.D. in architectural history from Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Though not employed by EJP, she works full-time on its behalf.

Jamie Hines (She/Her/Hers)

Operations Director Jamie Hines has been with EJP since 2015. She joined as Operations Manager, and became Director of Operations (later Operations Director) in 2017, in recognition of the expansion of our campus office and its operations under her leadership. Jamie also teaches Public Speaking at Parkland College and has an MS in Communications Studies from Illinois State University.

Beth Pearl (She/Her/Hers)

Beth Pearl has been EJP’s writer since March 2020. In her role, she helps edit and write for many programs and projects within EJP. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Missouri and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Lee Ragsdale (She/Her/Hers)

Reentry Guide Initiative (RGI) Director Lee Ragsdale began her work with EJP in 2010 as an instructor in the Language Partners Program. In 2017 she introduced RGI’s second guide for people facing deportation and in 2020 co-coordinated a reentry guide for those being released during the pandemic. Lee has a BA in English from the University of California, Berkely, and MAs in Spanish and English Linguistics from the University of Illinois.

Ellen Ritter (She/Her/Hers)

Our Academic Director is Ellen Ritter. She started with EJP as a member of our Mindfulness Discussion Group in 2015, became co-facilitator of MDG in 2017, and EJP Student Services Director in 2019. From there, she rapidly transitioned to overseeing all of EJP’s academic programming at the prison. Ellen has a BA in Sociology and Psychology and an MA in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Illinois.

Richard Porter (He/Him/His)

Assistant Academic Director Richard Porter joined EJP in September of 2021. In this role, his focus is on strengthening coordination between EJP’s U of I courses and relevant EJP programming while providing on-site support for all EJP programming at Danville Correctional Center. Richard has dedicated his career to supporting low-income and first-generation students on their journey to and through college. He has a BA in African American Global Studies, a Graduate Certificate in Native American Studies, and a MA in Social Foundations of Education from the University of Iowa.

Other Staff

Kenneth Davis (He/Him/His)

RGI Outreach Coordinator

Natalie Fic (She/Her/Hers)

RGI Distribution Coordinator

Linda Larsen (She/Her/Hers)

Writing & Research Coordinator

The EJP director is guided by an Advisory Council that assists in setting policy and strategic planning. The chair of the Advisory Council is Helen Neville and its members are:

Charlotte Bauer

Assistant Dean, Graduate College, University of Illinois

William Brown

CEO of HoodVote Vision Voice and Co-Founder of HV Neighborhood Transformation, Champaign

Edmund Buck

Youth Development Coach, UCan, and EJP alumnus

Carla Hunter

Associate Professor, Psychology, University of Illinois

Greg Jahiel

Social Worker, READY School, Champaign

Gail Johnson

Key Account Manager, Takeda Pharmaceutical

Melissa Keeble

Chaplain, Carle Hospital

Sophia Manuel

READI Chicago Re-entry Program Manager

Helen Neville

Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Illinois

Yoon Pak (ex oficio)

Head, Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership

Stephanie Thurston

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Religion

David Todd

Proprietor, Groomfly and EJP Alumnus