Teresa Y. Hodge, a passionate advocate for people with criminal connections, is committed to reducing the lasting harm caused by prison. It was a 70-month federal prison sentence for a white-collar, non-violent, first-time offense that introduced her first-hand to the justice system and mass incarceration in America. Upon coming home, she and her daughter Laurin Leonard (Hodge) co-founded Mission: Launch, Inc. a non-profit focused on introducing technology and entrepreneurship to previously incarcerated individuals as a way of ensuring self-sufficiency. Additionally, the organization manages the Rebuilding Re-Entry Coalition, a citizen-led movement committed to creating a more just and inclusive society for returning citizens (a person who exits prison or jail).
As the Executive Director of Mission: Launch, Inc. Teresa plays a critical role in building strategic partnerships and establishing social enterprise models for greater reach and sustainability. Prior experience as an entrepreneur allowed her to maximize her time in prison looking for best practices to not only help her and others, get back on their feet upon release. Hodge is a certified life coach, with a specialty in prison re-entry. Her memoir and private coaching practice through Pearls & Prison continues to bring meaning and closure to the time she spent in prison.
Teresa is a 2016-2017 Open Society Soros Justice Fellow. Her Fellowship was focused on Unlock Inclusion to tech opportunities (jobs and startups) for individuals living with criminal convictions. During her advocacy year she was inspired to create a tech solution to a problem Mission: Launch faced and this led to R3 Score.
As part of her 2015-2016 Open Society Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship she authored a position paper - Unlock Inclusion: A Pathway of Digital Inclusion for People Living with Criminal Records. Teresa believes that without tech education and inclusion at the core of reentry mediations millions of Americans with criminal records will remain unplugged and locked out of sustainable opportunities. Her innovative approach to criminal justice advocacy has led to national recognition. She presented twice at SXSW (2016 and 2017) and is a 2017 Dewey Winburne SXSW Community Service Award recipient. Teresa’s TEDx talk “We’ve Made Coming Home Too Hard” highlights the impact of personal bias and social stigma on formerly incarcerated people.