Persevere is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to empower justice-involved men and women and individuals at risk for justice involvement to succeed as productive members of society. We do this by helping them develop the skills they need to be employable within the technology industry, either as employees or entrepreneurs, and helping them find jobs in the field. Our goal is to change lives through education, mentoring, and ongoing support.
Persevere began in 2012, even before it became incorporated as a non-profit organization, with one man’s desire to help others who were less fortunate than he was. Our founder, the Chief Executive Officer in a technology company, found himself in jail as the result of drug addiction. When he emerged from the ordeal, clean and sober since then, he realized that he could earn a living because he had advanced technology skills and the soft skills that help people get and keep work, but many others with criminal records, even those with non-violent criminal records, could not. Doors were closed on them at almost every company to which they applied simply because of their criminal records. Also, most did have the skills necessary to qualify for skilled jobs, so even if they could find a job, it was usually a low paying one, rarely enough to support a family. He started working with men in this situation one at a time, helping them learn computer skills and then giving them a job with his company. One became two, and then many, but he soon realized that the difference he could make one man at a time was valuable, but not as effective as if he could develop an organization to serve many. That’s how it started, and Persevere was registered as a non-profit 501(c)(3)organization in 2014.
Sean Hosman is the Founder of Persevere, building the organization from his own experience as an ex-offender and his desire to help others. For the past twenty years, Sean has pioneered reform in criminal justice systems throughout the United States as the CEO of Vant4ge. He has been a leader in creating, developing, and implementing advanced, system-wide frameworks for evidence-based practices, including tools, instruments, technology, policy and practice, and ultimately, outcomes. Sean started with juvenile justice systems, in 1998, working with the Washington State Institute for Public Policy and the Washington Association of Counties to develop and implement the country's first fourth generation juvenile risk and needs assessment and case planning system. From this initial work, he has continued to develop and implement increasingly advanced implementation platforms, in both juvenile delinquency and adult corrections systems, specializing in state and local departments of juvenile justice and corrections. Sean's work has evolved to encompass the entire continuum of correctional care, or Rehabilitative Life Cycle, specializing in the continuity of data-driven decision making throughout entire systems, from arrest, jail, probation, community corrections, prison or residential supervision, to parole and aftercare. Mr. Hosman holds a Juris Doctorate from Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark School of Law and is a member of the Utah and Colorado State Bars, and the American Bar Association.
Meet Sean, Our CEO
In order to address “the ways we think about prison and how that can change prison,” the focus must be on how we think about prisoners and prison staff, and employing the most advanced and scientifically-proven methods for creating sustainable behavior change in both. Professionals, or Pros, should be the only ones dealing with Convicts, or Cons. We need to support and develop the Pros in order to be able to change the Cons.
Director of National Institute for Unlock Potential (UP)
Karen Walker is the Director of the National Institute for Unlock Potential (UP), funded through the Walmart Foundation-Center for Racial Equity. In her current position, she assists with the creation and assembly of the National Institute for Unlock Potential (UP) to focus on best practices, policies, and evidence-based, scalable community-based models to increase meaningful employment opportunities and support for young people (16-24) who are disconnected from school or work. The National Institute will consist of a diverse workforce ecosystem of stakeholders, such as national, state, and community grassroots experts, youth-led organizations, state agencies, workforce development providers, and social impact foundations. With the support of Walmart, RBIJ's UP Program and Persevere's National Institute strives to unlock opportunities for the nearly 4.4 million Opportunity Youth in the U.S., specifically young people of color with lived experiences with juvenile justice and foster care systems, incarcerated parents, and human trafficking. Unlock Potential (UP) reflects the optimism we should have for helping our young people find a pathway to economic stability and serves as a reminder that we need to invest in their futures, which represents an immeasurable opportunity for employers.
Karen has varied experience in the Humans Services and Child Welfare arenas (state and local government and nonprofit) for nearly 27 years, working with disconnected youth and young adults, individuals and families of low-income, and family homelessness. She is well-versed in the Two-Generation (2Gen) approach and what is required to drive practice, policy, and systems change through a 2Gen lens. Her multi-disciplinary background makes her well-equipped to develop programming to drive culture change, reimagine policies and programs to serve whole families better, and develop strategies that align with 2Gen guiding principles for improved outcomes to advance family economic mobility. Karen has worked tirelessly to operationalize many processes necessary to embed 2Gen principles in state practices and programming. She has a deep passion for advancing policies, practices, and programs that will improve children’s and families’ lives and add value to our communities for generations to come.
Also, Karen is a wife, mother, and grandmother who loves to redesign homes, travel, hike and spend time with family.
Stacey Books is the Program Manager and the heart of Persevere. As Program Manager, she is responsible for the day-to-day implementation and management of Persevere’s coding and employment programs within institutions and community agencies. Ms. Books-Mesko is well acquainted with the skills, perseverance, and support ex-offenders need to succeed in the job market and community. Not only does she have 17 years of experience in the human resources and management fields, but she is an ex-offender herself, and she is committed to helping others move beyond their pasts to create successful futures for themselves. Under her leadership, Persevere has the best blend of technical expertise, inspiration, and ongoing support that participants will need to change their lives
Zach Hosman is the Sr. Director of Operations. He is responsible for the day-to-day implementation, operations, and management of Persevere’s coding and employment programs within institutions and community agencies. Mr. Hosman is well acquainted with the skills, perseverance, and support ex-offenders need to succeed in the job market and community. Not only does he have 5+ years in the project management and leadership fields, but his father is an ex-offender himself, and Zach is committed to helping others move beyond their pasts to create successful futures for themselves. Under his leadership, Persevere has the best blend of technical expertise, inspiration, and enthusiasm that participants will need to change their lives.
Allen grew up in Memphis, Tennessee in an underserved neighborhood called Whitehaven, an area with a poor education system and an environment filled with drugs and violence. Once he found success in basketball, he gained a support system that supplemented his parents’ positive influence and was able to access new resources to nurture his interests and passions. He quickly became obsessed with the idea of making an impact, and he embraced the mindset of GOYA: Give Of Yourself Always. He has experience working with nonprofit sports camps and assisting kids who are living with special needs, disabilities, and terminal illnesses. As Youth Program Coordinator at Persevere, Allen organizes all youth activities, serves as the lead for the youth summer coding camp, and networks with community leaders and organizations to support youth in various ways. In addition, he serves as a role model for them and helps them establish positive relationships in their lives. Allen graduated from Eastern Oklahoma State University & Western Kentucky University and holds a nonprofit degree and an education degree.
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Broderick has been working in the healthcare arena since 2010. He is passionate about his position at Persevere because he struggled with addiction for many years, which resulted in him spending time in prison. While in treatment, he found his niche, and he started his journey to become a counselor. Now he refuses to let his past define his future or who he is as a person, and he wants to give back and help anyone he can. When he met Stacey Books from Persevere and learned more about the mission of the nonprofit, he realized he had found where he belonged. Broderick was impressed that the program was not only preparing justice-involved individuals with a career path, but Persevere was also holistically addressing other aspects of their lives and reentry needs.As mental health counselor at Persevere, he helps participants that may struggle with mental illness or substance abuse. He also facilitates a life skills course that focuses on family reunification, in addition to emotional, financial, and physical wellness. Broderick graduated from Lemoyne Owens College and received his Master’s of Mental Health Counseling from Walden University
Tennessee Department of
Dr. Rubin Cockrell
Positive Images & Associates
Founder & CEO
Sheri Mac Enterprises
Our Advisory Board
Retired Secretary of Corrections
Washington, California, MTC
Founder and Acting
Dr. Adimika Arthur
Founder and CEO
HealthTech 4 Medicaid (HT4M)
Elizabeth K. Reynold
Ecosystems & Ventures
Chief Branding Officer
Hella Social Impact
Roland Ware, MBA
Veterans Treatment Court
Ron Glickman, Ed.D
Chief Information Officer
Trader Joes Company
Spark of Workwider.com
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