Kayla Gillman ’21.5

Exodus Transitional Community, New York, NY

This summer, I had the privilege of working for Exodus Transitional Community, a robust nonprofit organization that comprehensively serves adults and youth affected by the justice system. Its services include, but are not limited to, housing, workforce development, trauma-informed groups and individualized support, outpatient substance use treatment, and Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) programming.

Vegetables harvested from Exodus’ three Urban Farm Towers.

Every day at Exodus I learned something new, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to support this incredible and multifaceted community-based organization. Thanks to the generosity and willingness of the Exodus staff, I was able to support initiatives with the Workforce Development team, the Youth Department, the Center for Trauma Innovation, and, arguably most critically for my own development and path moving forward, the Exodus’ ATI program.

Launched in October of 2020, the Exodus ATI program is one of a growing number of alternatives to a custodial sentence in New York City. Exodus ATI is unusual and a leader in its burgeoning field because it tailors its programming to each of its participant’s needs, instead of offering a standardized program for everyone. It is this individualized care that makes this program so powerful and successful.

Prior to this summer, I had spent ample time reading theory and academic articles about ATI programs in New York City, but I had never been exposed to an ATI program firsthand. Through my participation with Exodus, not only was I able to see a program in action, but I was also able to work alongside members of the ATI team to gain experience in different parts of the program. Some days, I worked with the facilitators to lead their mentoring groups; other days I joined the case managers working on intakes or the legal advocates appearing in court. The care that the ATI team at Exodus put into their work every day to keep its participants out of incarceration inspires me and leaves me with a resolved commitment to continue my exploration of and advocacy for all ATI programs. I am grateful to have been granted the opportunity to deepen my learning and tangibly support a program that keeps communities together and diverts people out of prisons and jails.

Thank you to the Class of 1972 and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for making my summer with Exodus Transitional Community possible. This experience has been invaluable and could not have come at a better time, especially as I near the end of my journey in the Purple Valley and think seriously about my career path after graduation. Whether my next steps include working in the nonprofit world, in advocacy, in law, or furthering my degree in criminal justice or criminology, I know for certain that I will be oriented towards fighting to change the criminal legal system and working in community with others who care equally deeply about this work.