Colorizing Restorative Justice: A Virtual Writers’ Roundtable

When: September 16, 2020, 4:30 - 6 pm EST

Guest: Rochelle Arms Almengor, Shameeka Mattis, Barbara Sherrod, Johonna Turner, and Edward Valandra, Waŋbli Wapȟáha Hokšíla.

Host: Melody Pannell 


This webinar will feature a roundtable discussion among noted leaders in restorative justice discussing their new book, Colorizing Restorative Justice: Voicing Our Realities. This landmark collection of essays centers the voices and analysis of people of color and indigenous people involved in restorative justice and chronicles the insight and knowledge intrinsic to their stories.
As Dr. Fania Davis describes, the stories in this book arise from “the lived experiences of a broad range of seasoned, loving restorative justice practitioners of color, mostly women, who fiercely unearth realities about the devastation caused by white practitioners who unthinkingly work without a racial or social justice consciousness.” In addition, writers detail the analytical and practical insights afforded by attention to racism and colonization within RJ philosophy and practice, and provide guidance on how to deepen RJ's foundational analysis and approaches in these and other directions.  In reflecting on the authors' words of contribution and challenge, Harley Eagle expressed his hope that the insight shared in this book will “land on ears willing to hear their wisdom that will enrich and perhaps even transform the RJ journey, even when the wisdom is uncomfortable”.
The writers' roundtable will feature the volume's editor and the following contributing authors:
  • Edward Valandra, PhD,  Waŋbli Wapȟáha Hokšíla, editor of Colorizing Restorative Justice, on "Undoing the First Harm: Settlers in Restorative Justice" calling for settlers in restorative justice to address the contradiction of committing to repairing harms while living on land stolen from Indigenous Peoples through genocide without accounting for the mass violence from which they continually benefit and Indigenous peoples continually suffer.
  • Rochelle Arms Almengor, PhD, on "Women Colorizing Restorative Justice in White-Led Institutions” -illimunating the author's experiences and those of other women of color who have worked as RJ coordinators in schools with predominantly White teachers and adminstrators.
  •  Shameeka Mattis on "In My Rightful Place" - revealing the lessons she has learned as a Black queer woman serving as a restorative Circle facilitator within mostly Black and Latinx communities - including how to engage in self-examination and combat oppression in ways that nurture spirituality and affirm her and others' power.
  • Barbara Sherrod on “Your Silence Will Not Protect You” - analyzing the necessity and risks of breaking the silence about race, racism and institutional change among white RJ practitioners.
  • Johonna Turner, PhD on "Creating Safety for Ourselves” - documenting movement-building, led by women of color, many whom are queer, to create safety from intimate violence and other interpersonal harms without reliance on policing and other facets of the criminal legal system.

Guest Bios

Edward Charles VelandraEdward Charles Valandra is Síčáŋǧu Thitȟuŋwaŋ who was born and raised in his homeland, the Great Sioux Nation. He received his BA from the Minnesota State University-Mankato, MA from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and PhD from SUNY-Buffalo. Dr. Valandra has been involved in Native affairs, having served one four-year term as a legislator in his nation’s governing body, and he also served on his nation’s seven-member Constitutional Task Force. Edward is the founder of the Community for the Advancement of Native Studies (CANS). His organization promotes the application of research and study for all aspects of liberation and sovereignty with respect to Native Country and his research focuses are: the revitalization of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate, the disciplinary development of Native Studies, and the development and use of community-based participatory research in Native communities. Dr. Valandra’s current role is Senior Editor at Living Justice Press, a small, non-profit publisher specializing in restorative justice and harms between peoples. He is the editor of Colorizing Restorative Justice: Voicing Our Realities.


Rochelle Arms AlmengorRochelle Arms Almengor is Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department of John Jay College, specializing in Conflict Resolution practice. She received her PhD from The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in George Mason University, focusing on the use of reflective practice as a learning method for conflict resolution practitioners. Prior to this, she served as the Restorative Justice Coordinator of the New York Peace Institute where she managed mediation and restorative justice initiatives with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Justice Courts, schools, and community agencies in Brooklyn and Manhattan. She has trained or coached hundreds of individuals in communication skills, mediation and other facilitative interventions. Since 2000, she has worked in the U.S. and abroad in collaborative processes and restorative justice projects, with a variety of groups, including civil society organizations in India, indigenous peoples in Argentina, immigrants and refugees, and homicide offenders and victim survivors in Kentucky. Rochelle has a B.A. in Religion and Peace Studies from Swarthmore College, and an M.A. in International Relations through a Rotary Peace Fellowship at Universidad del Salvador in Argentina. She is originally from Panama, and lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. Contact Rochelle at:


Barbara SherrodBarbara A. Sherrod, is a restorative practices, Program director, avid reader, writer and mother of two. Through story-telling circles and transformative coaching, Barbara educates school communities on the use of restorative practices for interpersonal and intrapersonal relationship building, and addressing race and gender based-harms perpetuated in school communities. Her website, MillennialMochaMoms provides space for Black millennial mothers to share their maternal experiences and create community. Barbara is currently a doctoral student at Morgan State University studying Urban Educational Leadership. studying Urban Educational Leadership.



Shameeka MattisShameeka Mattis, LMSW, is a dedicated social change agent focused on equity and justice. A Brooklyn native, she has fifteen-plus years of experience in social welfare and justice reform. Shameeka was a founding member of Common Justice and served there for nine years as a restorative justice practitioner, where she supported communities impacted by violence. Common Justice is a victim-service and adult-alternative-to-incarceration program based on reconciliation practices in New York City. Prior to her work there, she served communities in Philadelphia through prison social work, reentry support, and children and families advocacy.

Shameeka is a creative writer, organizational strategist, educator, blogger, public speaker, anti-oppressive and trauma-informed trainer. She received her bachelor of arts (BA) from SUNY Binghamton and master of social work (MSW) from the University of Pennsylvania. Shameeka is a licensed social worker and has received several honors, including the K2 REACH Second Chance Award and the NASW-NYC Emerging Leader Award. She currently serves as a psychotherapist with NYC Affirmative Psychotherapy, primarily serving queer communities of color, and is a professor in the City and State Universities of New York (CUNY and SUNY).

Dr. Johanna TurnerDr. Johonna Turner is assistant professor of restorative justice and peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and the co-director of the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice. For more than fifteen years, Dr. Turner has worked with arts collectives, community organizing groups, and other social movement organizations to develop youth leadership, empower disenfranchised people, and advance transformational approaches to safety and justice. In 2007, she was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Institute to research and promote community-based strategies for challenging violence and to engage youth in these efforts using the arts. In the process, she founded a youth leadership development project and launched several programs that integrated movement-building, peace education, arts and media, and trauma healing. Johonna is an innovative educator with experience teaching a wide range of learners in a variety of settings. She formerly served as a special education, English, and reading teacher with the District of Columbia Public Schools and as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, where she earned her PhD in American Studies. She also holds a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland and a graduate certificate in urban youth ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Host Bio

Melody M. PannellMelody M. Pannell has served in the field of social work, higher education and social justice ministry for over 25 years. As an independent scholar, social work practitioner, diversity educator and community leader, Melody utilizes a variety of liberating frameworks to address historical harms, dignity violations and structured discriminations that affect the positive development and holistic well - being of marginalized populations. It is her life mission to embody restorative justice and peacebuilding through the values and ethics of social work and encourage those that she serves to engage in a transformative journey of “emancipatory hope in action” and self-empowerment through restorative justice practices. Melody holds a Foundational Church Ministries Certificate from The Evangelical Training Association at The New York School of The Bible, a Bachelors in Social Work and Youth Ministry from Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia and a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University in New York City. In addition, Melody Pannell obtained a Masters of Divinity and Masters of Arts in Christian Education from The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia and is a 2015 recipient of the Graduate Certificate of Restorative Justice from the Center of Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. Melody M. Pannell serves as the Chairperson for the Religious Affairs Committee for the NAACP Harrisonburg - Rockingham County Branch and the Board President for The Mennonite Inc. and Anabaptist World Inc. She is also the Founder and CEO of Destiny’s Daughters Inc. and Embodied Equity Leadership Institute LLC.