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Vicky Jeudy

Vicky Jeudy

Orange Is the New Black star Vicky Jeudy will join Sean Patrick Thomas, Fringe’s Lance Reddick, Lennie James (Low Winter Sun), and Kearran Giovanni (Major Crimes), as presenters for CNN Hero Susan Burton’s 15th Annual Gala. A New Way of Life Reentry Project’s fundraiser “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” will be held at the Omni Hotel Downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, December 8, 2013. Presented by the office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the event will hosted by KPFK’s Margaret Prescod.

Jeudy, who stars on the Netflix breakout hit Orange is the New Black, excitedly joined this year’s gala in support of Burton and the organization as a presenter. The writers of the show, which sheds light on the prison system and the hardships and injustices the women face, consulted with Burton prior to filming.

“Orange is the New Black really parallels the work that Susan Burton is fighting so hard to raise awareness for and I am honored to be able to support her gala and become involved this year,” says Jeudy.


Presenters: Sean Patrick Thomas, Kearran Giovanni, Lennie James, Noreen Farrell, and Lance Reddick

“I’m so thankful to have this continued support over these past 15 years and the ability to really be able to help bring attention to this issue,” says Burton. “With hit shows like Orange is the New Black and the ongoing support of people like Vicky Jeudy, we really can help to reverse the system of mass incarceration.”

Lennie James, who can currently be seen on AMC’s hit Low Winter Sun, joins the organization for a second year as presenter alongside Major Crimes Kearran Giovanni, who previously attended last year’s gala. Sean Patrick Thomas and Noreen Farrell are also scheduled to present awards.

This year’s honorees include

  • Simona Farrise, who will receive the Movement Builder Award for her efforts and years of dedicated service to supporting the work of A New Way of Life and other organizations that are affecting change in the criminal justice system and the lives of those who are on the road to transformation.
  • The Synergy Teamwork Award recognizes the combined efforts of the recipients in supporting A New Way of Life’s mission, goals, and services through years of remarkable dedication in helping to provide pro bono, “clean slate” legal services and will be awarded to Jim and Meg Morrow.
  • The Drug Policy Alliance will receive the Community Champion Award because of its continued commitment to raise awareness and support the understanding of a high profile issue that seriously affects our communities, as well as society.
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  • A New Way of Life’s Alumni Award will be presented to Tiffany Johnson. This award is given annually to an individual who has embraced the opportunities provided through A New Way of Life and has exhibited extraordinary determination and perseverance in furthering the success of her personal reentry journey.

A New Way of Life has helped more than 700 women make a successful transition from prison back to the community and has five houses in the South Central Los Angeles area. After cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for nearly 20 years, Burton gained freedom and sobriety and founded A New Way of Life in 1998, a non-profit that helps women who are being released from jails and institutions, provide housing, legal assistance, child care, and so much more as they rebuild their lives, reunite with their families, and reintegrate into society. Susan was honored with the CNN Top 10 Hero Award in 2010.

During the inspirational evening, the charity will celebrate the beauty of their residents’ personal transformations, shared accomplishments, and honor their dear friends and supporters that help to continue to provide housing and reentry support, advocate for human and civil rights and build the leadership skills of formerly incarcerated individuals. A red carpet VIP reception will kick off the night at 5:00pm followed by a silent auction, dinner, entertainment and awards presentations.

Susan Toney

Susan Toney

This year’s gala will feature entertainment by the jazz fusion music group Gongfarmer Collective and headline performance by award-winning songstress Susan Toney (Current hit single “Trail of Light and Dark”).

Other sponsors include “Imagineer” sponsor Farrise Law Firm and the California Endowment, “Progressor” sponsors Drug Policy Alliance and LA City Councilman Curren Price and “Advocate” sponsors Xerox Corporation, V-Day, Iris Brewer LLC and USC’s School of Social Work.

To Purchase, Gala Tickets: or contact Claire Arcé at


About Susan Burton/A New Way of Life Reentry Project (ANWOL): A New Way of Life Reentry Project was born out of Top 10 CNN Hero Susan Burton's personal experience and her story of perseverance in overcoming overwhelming odds. After cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for nearly two decades, Susan gained freedom and sobriety, then founded A New Way of Life Reentry Project in 1998. ANWOL is a non-profit that helps women transform their lives after release from periods of incarceration. Under Susan’s leadership, ANWOL provides housing, legal assistance, child care and so much more as women work to rebuild their lives, reunite with their families, and reintegrate into society. Susan is a recognized leader in the criminal justice reform and reentry rights movements. ANWOL has helped more than 700 women make successful transitions from prison back to their communities.

*MUST watch: Marisa Tomei present the CNN Hero award to Susan Burton

About Title Sponsor Hon. MARK RIDLEY-THOMAS, Supervisor, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Second District: Since he was overwhelmingly elected in November 2008 and re-elected in June 2012 to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Mark Ridley-Thomas has distinguished himself as an aggressive advocate for the Second District’s nearly 2 million residents. He has promoted the district’s interest on a variety of fronts, including healthcare, transportation, job creation/retention and local hiring. He has overseen the construction of a new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, as well as a network of cutting edge healthcare facilities throughout the district. He is widely regarded as the foremost advocate of neighborhood participation in government decision-making. By virtue of his founding of the Empowerment Congress, arguably the region’s most successful twenty year experiment in neighborhood-based civic engagement, he is considered the founder of the Neighborhood Council movement.

Celebrity Supporters and Past Participants of A New Way of Life have included last year’s host and Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs (Last year’s gracious host), Wilmer Valderrama (That 70’s Show), Steve Harris (Takers), Tony Denison (Major Crimes), Joe Torry (Def Comedy Jam), Janina Gavankar (True Blood), Kearran Giovanni (Major Crimes), the late Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives), Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls), Rebecca Field (The Client List), Lance Reddick (Fringe), Lennie James (Snatch), Melanie Fiona (Recording Artist), Dr. Margaret Prescod, Nia Peeples (Pretty Little Liars), Iqbal Theba (Glee), Cedric Sanders (ABC’s Mind Games), Kaya Jones (Pussycat Dolls), and media partnerships with Reelz Channel, KPFK and LA Progressive.