Formerly Incarcerated Speaker Series: Dr Vanessa Rojas at the San Fransisco Public Library


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Fri, Aug 16, 2024 2:00pm-3:00pm
A formerly incarcerated speaker lectures in the Alcatraz Dining Hall

Vanessa Rojas is a community organizer and abolitionist. She served four years in federal prison before being released in 2021. Since then, she has focused on family while pursuing a Law, Public Policy, and Society degree through the Palomar Rising Scholars Program. Vanessa is employed in the Office of the President at Palomar Community College to manage special projects. Vanessa is a motivational public speaker and a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform with FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) and Initiate Justice Action. This grassroots organization mobilizes the power of people impacted by incarceration to advance progressive policies in California. Vanessa is a member of the Awakening Exchange, an online meeting of restorative justice practitioners from all over the country who meet monthly to build a better humanity. She has spoken at national conferences and has lobbied for reform in Washington, DC, and Sacramento. Vanessa helps prepare people for parole hearings and works with parole agents. She facilitates workshops, mentors women and men reentering society, and promotes successful reintegration Vanessa is a published author in the San Diego Union-Tribune and From the Streets to the Seats, a book written by formerly incarcerated scholars. She has graduated from the Peer Reentry Leadership Academy, a program through the San Deigo County Sheriff’s Department and Neighborhood Housing Association as a Peer Support Specialist. Vanessa is a survivor of childhood trauma, domestic abuse, addiction, criminality, and the carceral system. She is a mother of three adult children and grandmother of two grandchildren


The Formerly Incarcerated Speaker Series is a biweekly program on Alcatraz Island that lifts up and highlights the voices of people who have spent time inside of jails and prisons. The National Park Service believes in parks as platforms for dialogue, and Alcatraz Island, being one of the only NPS sites that interprets mass incarceration, works directly with people who have been affected in order to give them a platform to showcase their stories.

The Speaker Series will take place in the learning center on the 5th floor of the San Francisco Public Library.

For more information on the Formerly Incarcerated Speaker Series,or other community outreach initiatives (including ranger-led programs), please contact park ranger Oliver Goodman ( If you are a community leader working with the formerly incarcerated community and you would like to bring a group to an upcoming program in the series, please email Oliver. If you have any accessibility needs such as ASL translation, please contact at least 5 days in advance.

Seating is first come first serve. Your island ticket is sufficient for admission, reservations are not required. Seating may be limited.

100 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA 94102 ,

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Audience Type

Free. This event will take place at the Main Branch of the San Fransisco Public Library. There is no fee.

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Upcoming Event Dates

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Fri, 08/16/2024 2:00PM-3:00PM

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