Who We Are
Founder, Executive Director
Taina founded Initiate Justice with her husband Richard Vargas-Edmond in September 2016. Prior to creating Initiate Justice, she worked as the Statewide Advocacy Coordinator with Essie Justice Group, State Campaigner with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and as a Field Representative for the California State Assembly. She has a master of Arts Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from California State University, Northridge.
Cofounder, Director of Inside Organizing
Richard Edmond Vargas co-founded Initiate Justice with his wife, Taina Vargas-Edmond, in 2016 while serving 10 years in California state prison. Also, while incarcerated, he founded Success Stories, a program that helps young men in prison challenge patriarchy to better achieve their goals. He raps and produces music under the name Richie Reseda and is launching Question Culture, a social impact media company, upon release from prison in 2018.
Director of Outside Organizing
Charles Berry is the co-founder of Success Stories, a youth lead youth-diversion program operating within Soledad State Prison. After being charged as an adult, sentenced to a life sentence, and experiencing first-hand the cruelties of California’s prison system, Charles began to recognize the symbiotic relationship between the harm and trauma in his community and the prison industrial complex operating in California. Charles was found suitable for parole on October 27th, 2016 and has served on the Initiate Justice Board of Directors since his release in February. Charles is a Math and Science major, poet, and Installation Specialist with Standard Vision LED.
Dominique Owens is a woman directly impacted by mass incarceration, as her husband is currently in the thirteenth year of his 28-years-to-life prison sentence. Because of this experience, Dominique has been inspired to seek a degree in the Criminal Justice field to have the educational background to enable her to become a better political advocate for change. Dominique is very passionate about advocating for rehabilitation and uplifting the impact that incarceration has on families and the community.
Danielle Nicole Motley
Danielle is the Founder and Principal Consultant of The Motley Collective, a social impact consulting firm, that works with organizations in the Bay Area and Metro Detroit on various criminal justice initiatives. Danielle is dedicated to improving the quality of life and outcomes for marginalized youth, families and persons impacted by the criminal justice system through advocacy, policy change and the creation of constructive opportunities. Danielle brings to the work, 10+ years of cross-sectoral leadership experience and passion driven by her lived experience and interception with the criminal justice system. Danielle received her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Wayne State University (Detroit) and a master’s in Public administration at The University of Michigan.
What We Believe
Commitment to supporting evidence- and community-based practices in bringing people home from prison and investing in their re-entry and transformation.
Commitment to restorative, not punitive, means of addressing harm.
Commitment to uplifting the voices and experiences of those directly impacted by state violence.
Commitment to racial and gender justice–the dismantling of white supremacist, patriarchal, and heteronormative systems.