Kirk Bloodsworth is the Executive Director of Witness to Innocence. An honorably discharged Marine, Kirk was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in Maryland where he spent almost nine years in prison, two of which were on death row. He is the first person in the US to be exonerated from death row based on DNA testing. Since his exoneration, Kirk has testified before the US Congress as well as numerous state legislatures. He worked in eight of the nine states that have abolished the death penalty in the last 25 years, including his home state of Maryland, where his name was mentioned 64 times during the floor debate in the legislature. He has been featured on Oprah twice as well as on CNN’s Larry King Live. Kirk has been an ardent supporter of the Innocence Protection Act, which established the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program providing $10 million per year in federal grants to help states defray the costs of testing DNA evidence. After teaching himself the art of silversmithing, Kirk created signature “exoneree” and “death row exoneree” 28g sterling silver rings which he has gifted to 235 exonerees to date. Kirk served as a program officer and consultant for The Justice Project in Washington, D.C. and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Innocence Network where he is one of the first exonerees, and is the first death row exoneree, to join the board. Kirk served on the Witness to Innocence staff as the Director of Communications, Deputy Director and Interim Executive Director before assuming the role of Executive Director. At Witness to Innocence, Kirk is focused on highlighting the voices of fellow exonerees. He places their leadership and well-being at the center of his work.
Learn more about Kirk.
Grants & Business Manager
Tricia Coscia's commitment to justice, equality and the dignity of all people has led her to work for a variety of social justice and human service organizations, including the Art Against AIDS campaign, Ivins House Resource and Referral Center, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Community Engagement program, and as an arts and creative program facilitator, empowering people facing physical, cognitive and other challenges. Her experience includes event and grants management, program coordination and facilitation and community organizing. She received a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and is currently working towards her MFA in Creative Writing, with her own writing focused on issues of inequity and privilege, and the personal and community outcomes of injustice.
Shujaa Graham was first sent to prison at the age of 18 and spent 5 years on San Quentin's death row. He is now a Peer Organizer, a role that allows him to engage with all of our members in a unique way. Not only does Shujaa provide support for practical issues that may hinder member engagement, but he also is at the forefront of building excitement for abolition and a commitment to sharing the powerful story that each exoneree brings everywhere they go. Click here to learn more about Shujaa.
Derrick Jamison spent nearly 20 years on Ohio's death row before being exonerated in 2005. He now works as a Peer Specialist, supporting his fellow death row exonerees on a peer-to-peer level, and engaging in their lives to aid in the creation of a more positive outlook as they continue their fight for abolition at home and abroad. Click here to learn more about Derrick.
Director of Social Work
Cara Kovalovich is the Director of Social Work for Witness to Innocence. Cara has spent much of her academic career focused on the history and effects of the death penalty in America, but has recently shifted her focus to how best to support individuals during their transition from incarceration to community life. She has earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminology from Northeastern University, and her Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. Cara has developed community needs assessment protocols for a local non-profit and has spent time working with men incarcerated within the Philadelphia Department of Prisons as they reenter their communities. Her other areas of social justice focus stem from her background in Sociology and include such topics as economic justice and structural violence.
Randal Padgett spent 5 years on Alabama's death row for a crime he did not commit. He now works as a Peer Specialist, where he builds camaraderie and mutual respect to better support and engage death row exonerees across the country. His work focuses on both a celebration of triumphs and a deeper understanding of what it means to provide support and acceptance during difficult moments. Click here to learn more about Randal.
Director of Development & Communications
Jennie Sheeks is the Director of Development & Communications for Witness to Innocence. She has more than 20 years of professional experience in fundraising, facilitation and non-profit management. She implemented the first eight years of grant-making for the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts, managed large scale fundraising events and employee giving programs at Bread & Roses Community Fund and, served for six years as Director of Development for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Jennie has been a fundraising consultant, board member and volunteer for many community organizations and is committed to efforts led by those affected by the human rights issue being addressed. She has worked with formerly incarcerated persons who provide reintegration services, lifers who fight LWOP, and Falun Dafa practitioners exposing their illegal imprisonment and torture in China. She currently serves as Board Secretary of the Friends of Shen Yun Society and is a communications volunteer for Doctor's Against Forced Organ Harvesting. In 2002, she traveled with the family of her friend Desmond Carter on a speaking tour to raise awareness about the death penalty and gain support for Desmond’s clemency campaign. The Governor did not grant clemency and the personal experience of having a loved one executed was an indescribably surreal and painful experience that has only increased her commitment to abolition and the protection of human rights in the US and internationally.
Speaking & Events Manager
Alison Walsh’s interest in criminal justice reform began with her participation in Vassar College’s Green Haven Prison Program – a series of weekly classes attended by Vassar students and people incarcerated at Green Haven and Otisville Prison in New York. She went on to work for Prison Policy Initiative, where she co-authored a report, “States of Incarceration 2016: The Global Context,” comparing the incarceration rates of each state to that of countries around the world. Most recently, she worked as the Development & Events Coordinator for Dakin Humane Society. Alison holds a B.A. in American Culture from Vassar College.