The Connecticut Mirror’s Community Editorial Board (CEB) is a project to amplify diverse voices and perspectives across the state.
Every year CT Mirror invites eight to 12 community members to join the Community Editorial Board. During this time members write opinion essays on their areas of expertise or interest and provide perspective to the CT Mirror news staff. The board members’ opinions are theirs alone and not those of the Connecticut Mirror or Connecticut News Project, Inc.
The Community Editorial Board was launched in 2022, with an initial class of 12 members to amplify diverse voices and perspectives. To meet the first class of 12 members that served from January 2022 through December 2022, visit the 2022 cohort page.
You can learn more about the members of the 2023 cohort below, and can apply here to be a member of the 2024 cohort.
Mercy A. Quaye is the editor of the Community Editorial Board.
Sacha Armstrong-Crockett was born and raised in Connecticut. She moved back to her hometown of Middletown in 2003 with her husband to raise their 5 children. Sacha was a pre-k teacher before becoming a realtor in 2017. She’s currently contracted with one of the top international brokerages in luxury real estate.
Sacha is an anti-racism activist and real estate is at the center of that work. After receiving her At Home With Diversity certificate she created fair housing education for 1st time BIPOC buyers. The curriculum unpacks the history of segregation, redlining, bank fraud, Black land loss, CT migration data and more while also providing resources for BIPOC buyers. DeSegregate CT featured her in their educational videos. She’s a #bestofhartford winner in the Individual Realtor category for 2022.
Her notable accomplishments within her community include Wesleyan University’s Embodying Anti-Racism fellow, co-chair of the Mayor’s Anti-Racism Task Force and co-conspirator with Middletown Racial Justice Coalition. Sacha has also been an active member of the Middletown Democratic Town Committee since 2017. Her proudest accomplishment in that space is the victory of the town’s First Black State Representative, the late Quentin Williams. To learn more about Sacha’s work you can watch her TedXHartford talk about renaming the town middle school after a Black family of abolitionists.
Tyrone Bynum Jr. was born in New Haven, Connecticut in May 1988. The following year, Tyrone and his family would spend the next 11 years of his life living in Oakland, California. In the year of 1999, Tyrone and his family relocated back to Connecticut, this time moving to Hartford, where Tyrone attended and completed elementary through high school. Tyrone’s dedication has been to youth engagement with boys and men of color. Community engagement, and violence prevention. Tyrone found his passion working with youth during his teenage years as a camp counselor. Later he became a group leader for countless before and after school programs in the greater Hartford area. Tyrone has also facilitated youth groups for countless organizations, such as Blue Hills Civic Association.
Tyrone currently works at Hartford Communities That Care in Hartford’s Northeast neighborhood as a Crisis Intervention Specialist. The organization’s mission statement is to provide a violent-drug free environment, while providing quality services needed for families in the community.
Richard Frieder works in community engagement with Community Capacity Builders. He helped found and continues to be very active with several community engagement initiatives in Hartford including Hartford Decide$ (participatory budgeting), the Hartford Votes~Hartford Vota Coalition, Know Thy Neighbor (community dialogues with neighborhood residents, the faith community, and police), and the Collaborative on Poverty, Criminal Justice & Race. He is a Network Consultant with Everyday Democracy and was Community Engagement Director at Hartford Public Library from 2001-2016.
Richard is a member of the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence Board of Directors. In 2018 he served as a Fellow at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute in the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project.
Marisol Garcia is pursuing her J.D. law degree at Vermont Law School with a concentration in Restorative Justice and is a College to Career fellow at the Yale Prison Education Initiative, conducting research on mass incarceration, policy, and the law.
She graduated from Trinity College with a BA in Public Policy and Law in 2022 and with a Masters in Public Policy in May 2023. Ms. Garcia participated in the Center for Prison Education program at Wesleyan University during her incarceration and upon her release in 2019, graduating from the program in 2020 with a dual associate degree in political science. She was a Yale Law School Access fellow from 2021 to 2023.
Marisol hopes to make a long-term impact on the healthcare outcomes of people who are currently incarcerated, re-entry services for people returning home, and sentencing for those still in pre-trial status.
sourav guha has been a resident of Connecticut for 15 years and has lived in New Haven for the past six. He has two decades of experience across a broad variety of roles in the public, nonprofit, and postsecondary sectors, including many years working on issues pertaining to representation, access, and inclusion in higher education.
Presently, he is executive director of the Consortium on High Achievement and Success, hosted at Trinity College, and an adjunct instructor of government and international relations at Connecticut College. He previously held administrative positions at Vassar and Yale, as well as administrative and instructional roles at Wesleyan University, his undergraduate alma mater. He also briefly served as the higher education budget analyst at the State of Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management.
Beyond his professional work, some of sourav’s interests and commitments concern issues related to environmental and energy policies, housing availability and affordability, and the unending expansion of our military- and security-industrial complexes. He believes more humane, generous, just, and ecologically-sensitive ways of living are possible, in Connecticut and in our country more broadly.
Renee Hamel grew up in Meriden and now lives in Unionville.
For the past six years she has been active in the Connecticut labor movement and currently works as Associate Director of Communications at AFSCME Council 4. She is passionate about uplifting the voices of workers and assisting them on campaigns to achieve better pay, health care, retirement security and working conditions.
Before joining the labor movement, she worked at various non-profit organizations in Hartford, including two years with Public Allies CT (AmeriCorps).
Renee also serves as Vice Chair of the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, an organization that brings together labor, environmental, social justice, and faith groups to combat climate change, create jobs and promote racial, economic, and environmental justice.
She believes those most impacted by climate change have a unique role to play in building a sustainable future and green economy, especially workers who can be a part of a “just transition.”
She has a Masters of Social Work with a concentration in community organization from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and has also studied communications, public health, and human rights.
Jennifer Heikkila Díaz
Jennifer (JHD/Jenny) Heikkila Díaz (they/she) was born and raised in Los Ángeles. Witnessing the LA Uprising of 1992 and their family’s immigration experiences seeded JHD’s desire to coalition build across communities of color and within their own Korean American and Asian American communities.
For almost 25 years, JHD has worked as a K-12 public school teacher, school administrator, and educator coach, co-creating culturally sustaining and anti-biased, anti-racist classrooms and school communities with thousands of students, families, and educators in Baltimore, South (Central) LA, Long Beach (CA), Echo Park, Queens, and across Connecticut. They are the CT Council for the Social Studies Professional Learning Coordinator, and facilitate statewide teacher communities of practice as an Anti-Racist Teaching and Learning Collective Steering Committee Member and a UConn AAASI Activist in Residence.
They are a New Havener and co-founder of aapiNHV. Their lifelong commitment is to backing youth, who envision an even more joyful and just world than they do.
Katharine (Kat) Morris is a scholar-activist for intersectional environmental justice with her Master of Public Policy from the University of Connecticut. She founded UConn Collaborative Organizing (UCCO) to promote solidarity and intersectionality in social and environmental justice movements. Her TEDxUConn talk, How to Collaborate for Environmental Justice, is a call to action discussing environmental racism, health inequities, and how to organize your community using radical love and intersectionality. Kat plans to someday earn her PhD using cognitive science to strengthen collective efficacy and policy action at the intersections of environmental justice, health equity, and climate action. These days, she organizes grassroots and legislative action and speaks on various panels and podcasts, while serving on the board for CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.
Following her most recent positions as the policy intern for CT’s Health Equity Solutions and Sustainability Fellow for the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Kat served her Helen Gurley Brown Fellowship at CEEJH, the Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health. She organized the 1st annual Seaside Sounds for Environmental Justice community empowerment festival at Seaside Park on July 15th. Kat was appointed to the Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council (CEEJAC) then served as a Governor’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) Advisor stationed in the Office of the Commissioner at DEEP. Today she runs Seaside Sounds Club, consults locally and internationally, and organizes to Save Bassick High!
Most importantly, Kat is a tree-hugging hippie, queer pisces daughter of Jamaican immigrants whose love for nature is comparable only to her love for music, food, astrology, laughter, and learning about life through meaningful connections and long-winded conversations.
Zach Oberholtzer currently works as a biochemist in pharmaceutical development. With a background in chemical engineering and statistics Zach is interested in pulling apart the mechanisms of how social, government, and economic systems interact. He is specifically interested in how housing and transportation policy effect economic opportunity and can be used to build inclusive communities. Zach is a member of People Friendly Stamford, a local advocacy group for safe walking and biking infrastructure and housing abundance.
When not working or studying, Zach dabbles in writing bad poetry, playing ultimate frisbee, and baking recipes he found on the internet.
Cindy Prizio, is the cofounder of One Standard of Justice (OSJ); established in 2015. OSJ is a Connecticut civil rights advocacy group and affiliate of the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL). OSJ, NARSOL and other affiliates around the country work for evidence-based laws and public policies to create and sustain safer communities. OSJ has introduced its 2023 legislative campaign called Paid In Full to release men, women and children who were retroactively and unfairly put on the public registry at the time of its inception in 1998.
Cindy is an effective citizen lobbyist/educator who also advocates for trauma-informed restorative justice and is working to bring a pilot program to the state as an alternative to the criminal legal system. Recently Cindy created Friends of Restorative Justice of CT (FoRJ-CT) to support a healing justice and work with ForJ members toward offering victims of crime a choice. Her other advocacy efforts include aiding with litigation and providing educational webinars to shine a light on the facts about sexual harm. The latest in that series will be broadcast on January 17 and February 15, 2023 and is entitled respectively, “A Different Approach to Sex Crimes. the Case for Survivor-Centered Restorative Justice?” And “Men Who Watch Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM). What is the real risk?”
Cindy lives in Hartford County to be a stone’s throw from the Capitol. When she’s not working for social justice and criminal legal reforms, she’s content to be working in her pollinator’s garden.
Robert Boris is a tech entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in the field. He started his career in research and innovation and went on to establish Command Tech, as a technology company that specializes in cloud computing and cyber security. In alignment with the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of 1991, Robert negotiated a joint venture with the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics in Moscow and led research and commercialization efforts to develop parallel algorithms for operations on 3D spatial data stored in a grid database. The resulting technology has been adopted by the United States Air Force, Pratt & Whitney, NATO allies and more.
As Chairman of the Groton Economic Development Commission, Chairman of the Mystic Chamber of Commerce foundation, and President of Command Technology in Groton, Boris plays an instrumental role in leading initiatives to develop and implement effective policies that benefit the community. In addition to his professional pursuits, Robert is also an active member of his community, a father, and a volunteer for local non-profit organizations that focus on service and education. He acts as a mentor for aspiring problem solvers and believes in the potential of technology to bring about positive change in the world.
He holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, as well as a bachelor’s in linguistics from Syracuse University.
Jordyn Wilson is a Youth Justice Campaign Associate with the Sentencing Project. She works to ensure the voices of individuals most impacted by the legal system are incorporated into all decisions regarding legal system policy, practice and reform. Jordyn seeks to build opportunity-rich communities, where all families and youth have the support they need to thrive, through equitable access to resources and services.
Previously, she served as a Community Connections Associate and Justice Advisor with the Connecticut Justice Alliance where she led roundtable conversations, referred to as Vision Sessions, with directly impacted youth, families and communities to identify solutions to reform or replace systems that funnel youth into the justice system and build the leadership of directly impacted youth to turn their truth into power. Jordyn also served as an Emerging Leaders Committee Member with the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and a Youth First Youth Leaders Network Member with the Youth First Initiative.
Jordyn received her Bachelor’s Degree in Justice & Law Administration from Western Connecticut State University as a first generation college student.