Community Conversations are educational opportunities provided by Building Bridges collaborative partners. Each session is designed to provide community members information and best practices for working with or walking with justice-involved persons in their community. Community Conversations presenters also offer inspiration, encouragement, and opportunities to act forward in “doing justice” for and with other community members.

The Transformational Impact of Reentry Courts

You may have heard of reentry and reentry services. Maybe even reentry coalitions. But do you know what reentry court is and how it can positively impact your community? The Ohio Association of Local Reentry Coalitions invites you to learn about the Transformational Impact of Reentry Courts. Two Ohio Reentry Court judges and two restored citizens who work with them share insights into the unique role of reentry courts in redemption, transformation and forgiveness for those returning to our communities. Every county needs a reentry court. It’s up to us whether every county has one. This session was originally recorded on April 28, 2021, for National Reentry Week.

Presenters: Judge Timothy Kuhlman & Mike Hampton (Restored Citizen) of Toledo Municipal Court
Judge Nancy Margaret Russo & Jovan Norton (Restored Citizen) of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court

The Three Irreducible Minimums for Increasing Successful Reentry Right Now

Join Dr. Myrinda Schweitzer Smith from the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute as she provides three key areas in the continuum of care where every community needs to focus its energies to enhance successful reentry in a pandemic world. Using research and evidence-based best practices, Dr. Smith offers real-time analysis of the latest data that helps participants determine how to best assist those coming back into a very different pandemic-impacted community. This session was originally recorded on March 25, 2021.

Guest Presenter: Dr. Myrinda Smith, Deputy Director of the University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute

PDF of Presentation

Building Bridges Webinars are video recordings of sessions from the 2020 Community Experience.  Each Webinar helps you rise to the unprecedented challenge of Building Bridges of Opportunity for men, women, and families coming home during the pandemic. Sessions include organization, government, & faith leaders, community practitioners, ministry volunteers, and people with lived reentry experiences. Several sessions are contextual, as well, for metro, mid-size and rural communities. Watch, listen, reflect and connect with the sessions’ presenters to stay encouraged and effective in your own work and efforts!

Community Conversations: Women’s Reentry Voices

In this powerful 15-minute session, go behind the walls to hear from three women at the Ohio Reformatory for Women who are due to be released within a month’s time. Hear about their hopes, dreams, plans, challenges and feelings as they prepare to come back into community. Conducted over Zoom, this interview is an opportunity to seek guidance from the faces and the voices of our returning neighbors.

Community Conversations: Men’s Reentry Voices

In this powerful 25-minute interview session, go behind the walls to hear from four men at Ohio’s London Correctional Institution who are due to be released within a month’s time. Hear about their hopes, dreams, plans, challenges and feelings as they prepare to come back into community. These are the faces and voices of our returning neighbors, and they can help us support their reentry better.

Breakout Communities with Men’s Restored Voices

This session features a guided discussion with a panel of restored citizens who share their experiences of reentry, why it is important for community members to support returning neighbors, and how members can best be supportive for successful reentry during the pandemic. 


  • Carlos Christian, Starts Within Organization
  • James Clay, All In Community 
  • Richard Swiger, Prison Fellowship
  • Troy Parker, Innovative Cleaning
  • Facilitator: Juan Martinez, Kindway

Faith-based Approaches to Closing the Reentry Basic Needs Gap

Faith Communities are stepping forward to provide food, clothing, school supplies and a variety of other basic needs that support pandemic recovery and reentry. But for how long before volunteers and leaders wear out? Join this panel of reentry faith-based leaders who are navigating the demand without diminishing those being served and those serving.


  • Jessie Roark, St. Mark’s UMC (Lima)
  • Vanita Nevis, Accompanying Returning Citizens with Hope (ARCH)
  • Moderator: Marcie Langendorfer, United Way of Greater Cincinnati

Best Pandemic Practices & Pivots for Mentoring Families

We are all dealing with a sense of losing connection with someone who is important to us. For those of us who are called to mentoring youth, families, or adults, we are struggling to find solid footing in our current shifting foundation. Join mentoring experts around the lunch table for a real and relevant discussion on best practices and pivots for effective pandemic mentoring. This session explores setting realistic expectations for family mentoring and effective ways to continue to be a life-giving presence and a stable relationship in this season of social distancing 


  • Sister Rita Harwood, L.E.A.F.
  • Maggie Westrick, The RIDGE Project
  • Geri Geasland, The Four-Seven                                             
  • Facilitator: Kim Elliott, The Four-Seven

Restarting Reentry Friendly Court Dockets

Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in specialty courts that address issues of addiction, mental illness, human trafficking, and reentry. In this session, our panel looks at how courts and community partners are navigating the handoff from court to community during the pandemic when community resources are strapped, court services are disrupted and social distancing is our current new normal. 


  • Honorable Timothy Kuhlman, Toledo Municipal Court
  • Tom Luettke, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council of Lucas County Reentry Coordinator
  • Honorable Heather Russell, Cincinnati CHANGE Court
  • Jill Back Hillman, Franklin County Recovery Docket
  • Moderator: Pastor Carrie Jenna, Cheviot United Methodist Church

Using your Restored Voice in Advocacy

Join three restored citizens who are using their expertise because of their experience for a discussion on how to use your voice as a restored citizen to advocate on behalf of formerly incarcerated people at the local, state, and national levels.  


  • Dr. Patrice Palmer, Franklin County Office of Justice Policies and Programs
  • Robin Turner, Ohio Organizing Collaborative
  • Zaria Davis, Pretrial Justice Institute
  • Facilitator: Amelia Boomershine, McKinley UMC

One-Stop Online Basic Needs & Reentry Resources Center

Relink.org is a state-wide, up-to-date online resource guide for basic needs, reentry and recovery services for Ohio. It is used every month by thousands of Ohioans including reentry case managers, parole officers, pastors, families, and those directly in need. Join Relink’s Statewide Coordinator Bethany Freidrichsen for this informative session on how to use this essential resource to find basic needs for returning citizens and their families. In addition, Bethany walks through how to register your organization as a community resource. Relink.org provides the platform that puts your organization’s ministry and services in front of those who are responsible for managing the reentry continuum of care. As a bonus, Bethany offers a state-wide perspective and examples of how faith communities are and can respond to meeting basic needs through community collaboration. 


  • Bethany Friedrichsen, Relink.org Statewide Coordinator
  • Facilitator: Kim Elliott, The Four-Seven