Kwame Ajamu is an exoneree from Ohio who served 28 years in prison. He was exonerated after 39 years and now serves as Chairman of the Board, where he works in conjunction with Kirk and the staff to develop new ways of supporting and promoting the voices and goals of the exoneree membership he leads. Kwame is a strong, collaborative leader able to bridge the gap between the unique vision and needs of exonerees and the abolition movement at large. Click here to learn more about Kwame.
Elizabeth Zitrin is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Witness to Innocence and past President and Senior Advisor of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. A frequent speaker on the death penalty both in the US and internationally, Ms. Zitrin has addressed international bodies including World Congresses Against the Death Penalty the International Commission Against the Death Penalty in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and North America. She organized and convened the World Coalition’s two General Assembly conferences in the United States. She is an attorney-facilitator for Witness to Innocence’s ground-breaking project, Accuracy & Justice: Listening to Innocence. Ms. Zitrin practiced criminal defense law in San Francisco, California. She holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.
Board Vice Chair
Richard C. Dieter
Richard C. Dieter received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was named a Public Interest Law Scholar. He served as the Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. from 1992 until 2015. He authored 40 reports on the death penalty that have been widely cited in the national media and utilized at all levels of state and national government, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Dieter has been a frequent guest on national television and radio news programs and has been widely quoted in the nation’s newspapers. Mr. Dieter’s most recent publication, Battle Scars: Military Veterans and the Death Penalty (2015), received the Congressional Black Caucus’s Veterans Braintrust Award. He is currently the Principal Consultant at RDieter Communications. Mr. Dieter served as an Adjunct Professor at the Catholic University School of Law for 14 years. He was a founder of the Pre-Trial Release Program at the Community for Creative Non-violence in Washington and the co-founder of the Alderson Hospitality House in West Virginia for visitors to the country’s main federal women’s prison. Mr. Dieter recently received the Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award from the Southern Center for Human Rights in 2016. Richard joined the WTI board in August 2016.
Jarvious Cotton is the husband of Sabrina Butler Smith and a free-lance paralegal and contract services to Mississippi and Tennessee attorneys. In addition, Jarvious has over 30 plus years of legal experience. Jarvious' educational experiences includes an Associate Degree in Paralegal studies from Southwest Tennessee Community College and a Bachelors Degree in Legal Studies from the University of Memphis.
Jarvious is a motivational speaker to young adult males who he encourages to remain focused on life goals and process their thoughts in a positive way.
An important capstone of Jarvious' tenure in life is helping people obtain relief from the government’s administrative bodies to secure available resources. One of Jarvious' projects includes a movement in securing inmate voting rights in Mississippi and has made challenge to Mississippi’s disenfranchisement laws as it relates to convicted felons and former inmates in Cotton et. al. vs Fordice, et. al. 157 F.3d 388 (5th Cir. 1998). In addition, Jarvious has assisted countless of people in securing relief in the court system.
Gary Drinkard spent nearly 6 years on Alabama's death row before being exonerated. Since he was exonerated in 2001, he has attended college, worked as a laborer, and as a Peer Specialist for Witness to Innocence, supporting fellow exonerated death row survivors as they navigate living in the world after exoneration. He is now an active and engaged member of the Board. Gary serves as the exoneree selected by his peers to act as their representative on the Board. Click here to learn more about Gary.
Sarah Marquez has been an Assistant District Attorney in New York City since 2010. Over the course of her career, she has handled many types of criminal cases, specializing in domestic violence and other violent crimes, and supervising junior lawyers. She currently prosecutes homicides, managing all aspects of the investigation and prosecution. Sarah graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University College of Law in 2010, where she was a member of the Law Review and externed at United States Attorneys Offices in Syracuse and Maine. She also worked as a student attorney in the Criminal Defense Clinic, defending clients charged with misdemeanors in criminal court. Prior to law school, she spent two years working with youth with behavioral issues in educational and therapeutic settings.
As a Career Link Specialist with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Cheryl acted as liaison between employers and ex-offenders seeking employment and training. She successfully created and facilitated a series of workshops that provided guidance in addressing a criminal background on a resume, in an interview and in the workplace. An active member of Witness to Innocence since 2007, Cheryl has been an outspoken advocate for members, co-authoring the Witness to Innocence Community Member Guidelines with her partner, a founding member of Witness to Innocence Ray Krone.