About the RCP
Mentor Norma Burns has worked with the homeless and disabled as a caregiver, and as a special education
teacher. She is a veteran of the US Army. Norma has spoken at more than a dozen RCP
community education presentations in Elmwood Jail and the community. She accepted
the County Board of Supervisors’ commen
dation on behalf of the RCP in June 2012. Norma appears in RCP videos and has talked to the media regarding her experiences in getting her record cleared through the RCP. Norma uses her experience as an addict and an inmate at Elmwood to motivate and challenge her listeners. She speaks of having been a victim of sexual, physical, mental and verbal abuse, and of having been given a “second chance” through the RCP. She believes that sharing her past will inspire others to get their records expunged, and that “having a record shouldn't be a lifelong sentence.”
Program Coordinator Lisseth Castillo-Valencia graduated cum laude from SJSU with a BS in Justice Studies in Spring 2014. She and a classmate received the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights award in May 2013 for their work with the RCP. Lisseth served as a student coordinator for the 2013-14 academic year, and became Program Coordinator upon graduation.
As Program Coordinator, Lisseth responds to all phone calls and emails from prospective clients; finalizes, files and serves court petitions for clients; plans, organizes and supervises the moot court and Speed Screening sessions; does data entry and analysis; and generally handles whatever other tasks are needed. Lisseth also manages the workshops associated with the RCP classes, helps to train RCP students, supervises cases, delivers community education presentations in English and Spanish, and coordinates RCP events.
Lisseth grew up in east San José and began working when she was 14 to help support her family. The first in her family to go to college, Lisseth initially thought of being a paralegal and obtained her A.A. Paralegal Certificate from De Anza College.
Mentor and RCP Advisory Board member Winnonah Hernandez worked at various jobs she got through networking, but her record held her back from reaching her full employment potential. Once she got her record cleared, Winnonah was able to be employed in government work. She currently is taking classes to earn a management CPIM Certificate to advance at work. Suffering from the disease of addiction, Winnonah recognized that she was on a destructive path headed toward death. While in jail, Winnonah decided to turn her life around. She has been a sponsor for numerous women over the last 12 years, and written a guide to the 12-step program. She currently sponsors 11 women, who in turn sponsor others; their sponsorship tree includes over 120 clean and sober women. She brought NA meetings to Pathways Recovery House.
Winnonah is a motivational speaker at conventions and spiritual retreats. Winnonah has spoken at over a dozen community events and presentations, in Elmwood and in the community, and accepted the Dean’s Award on behalf of the RCP in May 2012. She has mentored at-risk teens, and visited juvenile halls and jails to talk to individuals and give them hope for their futures. She has spoken to the press regarding the powerful effects of expungement in giving her the courage and confidence to move forward in her life. Winnonah is a model and advisor to Cholo Nation; she is featured on a t-shirt that is sold worldwide. She currently is writing a book about her life story.
Volunteer Stacey Chang started in the RCP class in Fall of 2013. She volunteers to help with RCP classes, organizes the database, helps with RAP sheet analysis and Speed Screening sessions, and assists with case-handling as needed. Her work with the San José State University Record Clearance Project encouraged her to go to law school.
Nishtha Jolly, former Program Coordinator, is now attending law school.
Attorney Subba (Shaun) Naidu, Jr. has worked on expungements with Peggy when he was a summer student at the Stanford Community Law Clinic in 2005. Shaun has supervised RCP students’ work and helped train students since being admitted to the bar in 2009. He is the author of many of the RCP's materials. He has a JD from University of Iowa Law School and a BA from UC Berkeley.
Professor Harold Peterson, JD, teaches in the Justice Studies Department. He edited the RCP videos in the Students and Clients tabs. He assists with training RCP students and serves as the "District Attorney" coach for volunteers at the moot court practice sessions, as shown in the photo.
Hal holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Washington State University and a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan. Hal practiced law for 15 years in Michigan and Washington. He is the author of “Better Angels,” a novel.
Student Mentoring Coordinator Rochelle Rotea provides key assistance as the student partner on mentoring teams. As a RCP student, Rochelle prepared court petitions for four clients, advised more than a dozen clients in speed screening interviews, handled several community presentations, and has guided new RCP students in their introduction to RCP work. Having survived through the kindness of strangers in the streets after running away from home, Rochelle has become an advocate for the most vulnerable people in society. Before migrating to the United States in 2006, Rochelle worked with labor unions in the Philippines, assisting them in collective bargaining agreement negotiations and labor dispute settlements. She has volunteered as a home-based tutor for a refugee family. When she is not devoting her time to the Record Clearance Project, Rochelle works as a Docket Analyst in an IP law firm. She will be taking the road less travelled to law school in 2015.
Pro bono attorney John Scardamaglia has assisted in training the RCP students in class sessions, at Speed Screenings and in case supervision since 2012. John worked for over three years at the Northern California Innocence Project following his graduation from Santa Clara University School of Law. He served as a paramedic for 13 years before going to San Francisco State University. In late 2013 he established a family law practice in San José.
RCP Project Director attorney Margaret (Peggy) Stevenson has taught students to provide legal services to low-income clients for 19 years, including 12 years of teaching Stanford and Santa Clara law students in community-based clinics and 7 years teaching SJSU undergraduates. She serves on the SJSU Pre-law committee, is highly rated for her teaching and the recipient of several awards, including Equity and Diversity Outstanding Faculty award, SJSU College of Applied Sciences and Arts (May 2011); Faculty Lecturer Award, SJSU Service Learning and Community Engagement (April 2012). Prior to teaching, Peggy was a legal services attorney for 10 years and clerked for a federal judge following UCLA Law School, where she earned her JD. She has a BA from Stanford University.
Professor Gilbert Villagran, MSW, supervises the mentoring program's social work. Gil has been a part-time instructor in the School of Social Work since 1995. In addition to teaching, he has extensive experience in direct social work practice working as child welfare worker, public social service agency manager, program developer, grant writer, and community organizer. Gil has worked with exploited populations from various local communities and nations, including human rights refugees, youth gangs, immigrants, and families in severe crisis. He received a Master of Social Work degree and a BA in Philosophy and Sociology from SJSU.
Mentor José Valle grew up in a single-parent low-income housing project in East San José. Without a positive male role model, José was vulnerable to the gangs and drugs that surrounded him, and dropped out of high school when he was 16. While at Elmwood Jail in 2006, José joined a recovery program, received his GED, and found inspiration at the Elmwood library in books about pre-Colombian and Chicano history.
Upon release, José continued his sobriety. José wrote for De-Bug and Street Low Magazine about Chicano history, current issues, and his life experiences. He co-hosted a community talk radio show, and founded Souleros Ball Revue, a nonprofit arts, music and cultural empowerment organization. José has been a case manager and gang intervention specialist at California Youth Outreach, a non-profit faith-based organization for gang-impacted youth and families.
The Record Clearance Project maintains a detailed database regarding its clients' demographics and conviction histories. The database -- removed of all identifying information -- has been the basis for research findings from SJSU Prof. Danielle Harris, Prof. Ericka Adams of North Central College in Illinois, andProf. Elsa Chen of Santa Clara University.
Wendy Brenner: Ms. Brenner is a partner at Cooley LLP, a large, international law firm primarily representing employers in employment litigation. The American Bar Association recognized Ms. Brenner's outstanding pro bono work by awarding her the national Frances Perkins award in 2007.
Earl Cease: Mr. Cease graduated from SJSU in 2013 and has been involved with the RCP for over three years. Currently he attends law school. He has volunteered his experience by leading training workshops for new students, assisting with case-handling on challenging cases and filling in whenever he is needed. Mr. Cease served in the National Guard for seven years, following three years active duty service, including a tour of duty in Iraq.
Alessandro De Giorgi: Prof. De Giorgi is Graduate Coordinator of the SJSU Justice Studies Department. He studies the effects of concentrated incarceration and prisoner reentry in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Oakland. Prof. De Giorgi’s interests also include theories of punishment and social control, urban ethnography, political economy, and social justice. Prior to coming to SJSU in 2007, Prof. De Giorgi taught in Germany, Switzerland and at UC Berkeley.
Javier de la Torre: Mr. de la Torre graduated from SJSU in 2013 and has been with the RCP for over two years, volunteering with the RCP after completing his RCP coursework. He has been a frequent spokesperson for the RCP and volunteers in the full range of RCP services.
Winnonah Hernandez: Ms. Hernandez has frequently represented the RCP in articulating the need for record clearance services and the RCP’s work. A former client, Ms. Hernandez’ compelling presentations and wise counsel have made a profound impact on RCP’s profile and work. She has been a volunteer in juvenile hall and for at-risk youth, a sponsor for NA, is active in her church and recovery programs there, and a speaker to women in Elmwood Jail. Ms. Hernandez has written a 12-step guide to sobriety, which she uses to help women she speaks to in recovery houses and others on their paths to their futures.
Adam King: Mr. King is Director of Admissions for the Center for Employment Training, an international
nonprofit based in San José. He has run CET's job placement program for students
with criminal records. Through Mr. King's coordination, CET has hosted numerous RCP
Speed Screenings and community education presentations. Mr. King founded and directs
New Skin, a nonprofit tattoo-removal program.
Suzy Mendoza: alumna member Ms. Mendoza assisted a large number of clients as an RCP student, and continued volunteering for the last three years since graduating. She has role-played clients, prepared classes and helped run Speed Screenings. Ms. Mendoza is a home health-care worker.
Bob Rucker: Prof. Rucker is Director of the SJSU Journalism School and diversity in media educator. He does strategic planning in multimedia and social media and is a media consultant and professional group facilitator. In the past, Prof. Rucker has been a television news producer, medical reporter, writer and editor. He also is a Catholic parish lay ministry leader and church Diversity/LGBT Inclusion and Outreach Coordinator.
Dayana Salazar: Dayana Salazar is a Professor in the Urban Planning Department at San José State University and the Executive Director of CommUniverCity San José, a partnership between central San José neighborhoods (community), San José State (university), and the City of San José (city) focusing collective resources, knowledge, and expertise on resident-driven priorities. She has been instrumental in enabling the RCP to exponentially increase its effectiveness through arranging resources, making connections and increasing RCP's visibility on campus and in the community.
Alice Smith: Ms. Smith is a former attorney active in Bay Area organizations including the ACLU, League of Women Voters and American Red Cross. She has monitored the County’s implementation of “realignment” (moving people from prison to county jail), worked to start a youth court in Santa Clara County, and an advocate on voting rights issues.
Kent Vickery: Mr. Vickery is a financial advisor, business strategist and senior executive in communications, consumer products, financial services, structured finance industries, start-ups, multinationals and governments. He advises Silicon Valley entrepreneurs regarding investment strategies, and has strong interests in education.
The County of Santa Clara
FoundationsThe Castellano Family Foundation
Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian Foundation
Kazan, McClain, Satterly & Greenwood Foundation
Morrison & Foerster Foundation
Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP
Rossi, Hamerslough, Reischl & Chuck
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Foundation
Bay Area Maranatha Christian Center
Family and Children Services
South Hills Community Church