Kaia Stern, Co-Founder & Director
Kaia Stern is cofounder and director of the Prison Studies Project, which began at Harvard University in 2008. Her work focuses on transformative justice and education in prison. Her first book, Voices from American Prisons: Faith, Education and Healing was published by Routledge (2014). Recognized as a national expert, her contribution to the Greenhaven Prison Program at Vassar College, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, Vera Institute of Justice, Kings County District Attorney’s Office, The Riverside Church, Open Society Institute, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, Boston University’s Prison Education Program, Concord Prison Outreach, and the U.S. Department of Justice has facilitated work with numerous schools and prisons in various states for the last twenty-five years. She is currently a Faculty Fellow in the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University and Visiting Faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she leads the Transformative Justice Series. Kaia is ordained as an interfaith minister, holds a doctorate in religion from Emory University, and an M.A. of theological studies from the Harvard Divinity School. You can visit her website at kaiastern.com.
Bruce Western, Co-Founder
Bruce Western is Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, Visiting Professor at Columbia University, and Distinguished Visiting Research Professor at the University of Queensland in Australia. He received his BA from the University of Queensland, Australia, and his PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Western’s research examines trends in American economic inequality and the growth of the US penal population. These topics are joined by an interest in the shifting landscape of American poverty over the last 40 years. As a quantitative social scientist, Western has also studied the application of Bayesian statistics and methods for the analysis of economic inequality. He is currently vice-chair of a committee studying the causes and consequences of high incarceration rates for the National Academies of Sciences and will lead an Executive Session at the Kennedy School on the future of correctional policy. He is the author of the award-winning book, Punishment and Inequality in America.
Sameen Wajid, Communications Director
Sameen is currently pursuing her masters in International Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She strongly believes that everyone has the right to access quality education and is working to ensure that formerly incarcerated people are given a second chance through higher education. Sameen graduated from Austin College with a B.A. in Sociology and Political Science. She has globetrotted from teaching at an orphanage in Pakistan to studying social and political conflict in Ireland to pursuing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship on the island of Borneo. While in Dallas, she was a Marketing Associate at an education nonprofit where she helped lead the organization’s marketing and communication projects through the creation of websites and digital and print publications.