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.
Ray Krone spent more than 10 years in Arizona prisons, including nearly three years on death row, for a crime he did not commit. In 2002 he was exonerated by DNA evidence and became the 100th person exonerated from death row in the United States since 1976. In 2003, Ray co-founded Witness to Innocence with Sister Helen Prejean. He devotes his life to improving the criminal justice system that failed him and speaks across the nation urging stats to abolish the death penalty. Click here to learn more about Ray.
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.
Robert Dunham is director of the Death Penalty Policy Project and special counsel at the national non-profit law practice, Phillips Black Inc. For more than two decades, he represented Pennsylvania death-row prisoners, serving as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Capital Case Resource Center; Director of Training in the Philadelphia federal defender’s Capital Habeas Unit; and as an assistant federal defender in the capital habeas unit of the Federal Public Defender for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He has argued in the U.S. Supreme Court and was a member of defense teams that exonerated three wrongfully convicted death-row survivors. Mr. Dunham served as Executive Director of the Death Penalty Information Center from 2015 until January 2023, authoring and/or editing numerous reports and policy analyses, including the February 2021 DPIC Special Report: The Innocence Epidemic. Currently an adjunct professor teaching death penalty law at the Temple University Beasley School of Law, he has lectured throughout the United States and internationally in death penalty trainings, symposia, and conferences. His teaching experience also includes 11 years at Villanova Law School teaching the school’s death penalty seminar and teaching an inter-university honors capital punishment seminar as a visiting scholar at Oklahoma State University, as part of the Oklahoma state university system’s Scholarship-Leadership Enrichment Program. Mr. Dunham has previously served on the Steering Committee of the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project, the boards of directors of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and as Board President of Northwest Victim Services, dedicated to assisting victims of crime in the neighborhoods of Northwest Philadelphia.
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.