Palo Alto CA

Feb 9, 2017

In our polarized world of rising tensions and widening rifts, mass incarceration is an issue that deeply affects all our communities, perhaps now more than ever. With the world’s highest incarceration rate at 2.3 million inmates and counting, our neighbors and families on both sides of the prison fence are struggling through the trauma, devastation and frustrations that are a consequence of mass incarceration. How do we come together to find a way forward?

Able Works is honored to host a panel discussion on mass incarceration, the changes in community policing over the last decade, the war on drugs and how our community and individual families are affected. Please join us!

Thursday, February 9th, 2017 6:30 – 9:00 pm
Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, Cultural Arts Hall

3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303


  • George Gascón, San Francisco District Attorney and former Chief of Police.

  • Frederick Hutson, founder, CEO and Head of Product for Pigeonly, a service which allows inmates to efficiently and affordably connect with their families and loved ones.

  • Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, CA, who also serves as the Director of Urban Strategies for the PICO National Network and LiveFree, an organization committed to ending mass incarceration.

  • Heather Starnes-Logwood, Executive Director of Live in Peace, a non-profit that seeks to empower and advance youth and families in East Palo Alto.

The discussion will be moderated by Taia Ergueta, President of An Hour and a White Board and Able Works Board Member. 

Doors open at 6:15, hors d'oeuvres will be served. Panel begins 7:15. 

Space is limited; please RSVP today: 


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Frederick Hutson

CEO, Pigeonly

Bio: Able Works is honored to have Frederick Hutson join our #AbleForum2017 panel and share his insights on mass incarceration both from a market standpoint, but also as a former inmate with an inspiring and powerful story of re-entry. Frederick is the CEO and founder of Pigeonly, a platform that makes it easy for people to search, find and communicate with an incarcerated loved one. A born entrepreneur, Frederick launched and sold his first business at the age of 19. His desire to attain the american dream on his terms took him down the wrong path and at 23, he was indicted for distributing over 3,000 kg of marijuana. It was during this four year federal prison sentence a new idea surfaced, one that would give him an opportunity to impact the lives of people no one else was paying attention to - inmates, Pigeonly was born. Pigeonly's technology cuts the cost of expensive prison calls by 80% and allows people to send their inmate photos, greeting cards, and more right from a cell phone, tablet or computer. Although the company is still young, Hutson has grown Pigeonly to become one of the largest independent service providers in the country. Hutson leads a growing team of over 20 people from their Las Vegas headquarters and has raised over $5MM in funding from investors including Erik Moore (Base VC) and Mitch Kapor (Lotus).

George Gascón

District Attorney, San Francisco District Attorney

Bio: "We have to end the war on drugs. We can no longer incarcerate our young because they're using drugs. We can no longer incarcerate our young because they may be selling drugs for subsistence. And we certainly cannot incarcerate our young because they have a substance abuse problem. It is unconscionable, it is immoral, it is unethical. But yet we continue to do that." - San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, at a TEDx talk at Ironwood State Prison in 2014. We're honored to have DA Gascón join our #AbleForum2017 panel to share his insights on mass incarceration and community policing. When DA Gascón took office in 2011, he became the first Latino to serve as DA in San Francisco and the nation's first former chief of police to become District Attorney. During his term, DA Gascón has focused on violent or serious crime and alternatives to incarceration for low-level crimes. DA Gascón piloted the Alternative Sentencing Program as well as the Neighborhood Courts and Neighborhood Prosecution Program in order to ensure appropriate sentencing and diversion for low-level offenders. A former high school dropout, DA Gascón also understands the importance of keeping kids in school to reduce violence and prevent crime. To that end, DA Gascón has launched programs to reduce truancy, provide mentoring opportunities for youth and reduce bullying.

Heather Starnes-Logwood

Executive Director, Live In Peace Inc

Bio: Able Works is honored to have Heather Starnes-Logwood join us as a panelist for #AbleForum2017. Heather is a life-long advocate for young adults and currently serves as Executive Director of Live in Peace, Inc., a grassroots effort to reduce the culture of violence and empower youth to reclaim the vision for their future. Heather’s personal experiences and formal education make her extraordinarily qualified to serve under-resourced communities, and in particular young adults impacted by systemic racism. In her thirty years living and working in East Palo Alto, Heather has done extensive work with multi-barriered youth, innovative approaches to economic development, low-incoming housing and program design and evaluation. Heather’s eloquence, passion for her community and ability to work in systems has enabled her to establish a track record of bringing both community members and civic leaders to the table to effectively execute change. Her unique perspective also provides an unparalleled platform from which she speaks with power and authenticity, laced with humor and grace. Heather is married to her best friend and partner, Stanley, and together they have six kids (thankfully all old enough to live on their own), two dogs, and a host of godchildren from the community. Heather has a Masters of Urban Studies and Geography from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and is pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from St. Mary’s College of California. In her own words, Heather says, “I used to be fun and I have dreams of being fun again, but I’m currently finishing my dissertation, ‘Systems, Silos and, Superstars – a grassroots organization, 2 school districts, and a County’s attempt to disrupt the system.’”

John Liotti

CEO, Able Works

Bio: In 2007, Rev. John Liotti co-founded Able Works with a passion to focus on the economic issues underlying the communities in Northern California. John, who has extensive community development experience, recognized a deep need in under-resourced communities for financial education, life skills, assets and connections to the larger community and economy of the region. John is passionate about connecting and harnessing the abundant resources of the Bay Area to shatter generational cycles of poverty and systematic oppression.    Under John’s leadership, Able Works has piloted several innovative programs, including FutureProfits, a curriculum for financial education and decision-making skills for youth; LiveAble, a cohort-based support, goal-setting and finance and career management program for single mothers ages 18 to 30; free foreclosure and credit counseling; and low-income housing.    At an early age, John dedicated his life to serving under-resourced youth and families in communities locally in California’s Central Valley and Bay Area, nationally in Los Angeles, Central Florida and New York City, as well as abroad in Northern Mexico. He has lived and worked in East Palo Alto for seventeen years.    In addition to his work at Able Works, John serves as a board member for the Christian Community Development Association, YCore and the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County. John has a Master’s Degree in Intercultural Studies with an emphasis in Ethics from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA and is a Chaplain for the East Palo Alto Police Department.    John is the lucky husband of Melissa and proud father of son Samuel and his two rescue dogs, Jax and Clementine.

Michael McBride

Lead Pastor, The Way Christian Center; PICO National Network

Bio: Able Works is honored to welcome Pastor Michael McBride, Lead Pastor at the Way Christian Center and Director of the Lifelines to Healing/LIVE FREE campaign of PICO National Network (People Improving Communities Through Organizing) to our #AbleForum2017 panel. Pastor Mike is no stranger to community organizing and in 2013 was selected as one of the Top Clergy Leaders to Watch in the US by the Center for American Progress. A graduate of Duke University's Divinity School with an emphasis on Ethics and Public Policy, Pastor Mike is often called upon by major media outlets including MSNBC and CNN for his take on a wide variety of issues, from the gun violence epidemic to the #blacklivesmatter movement and more. A passionate and eloquent speaker, Pastor Mike has also served on a number of local and national task forces with the White House and Department of Justice regarding gun violence prevention, boys and men of color and police-community relationships. In a 2013 video by the San Francisco Foundation, Pastor Mike says, "We're not the only ones who are fighting to have peaceful communities. [...] There are people all over this country who are just heartbroken, traumatized, in mourning constantly. And I think it helps me to just know the narrative of apathy that people would like to claim is part of the problem - I don't find apathy. I find courage and I find people looking for answers and it reminds me of our collective struggle."

Paul Bains

Senior Pastor, Saint Samuel/Project WeHOPE

Bio: Able Works is honored to invite Pastor Paul J. Bains to share his insights and experiences with us at #AbleForum2017 as a pastor and community leader in East Palo Alto. Pastor Paul J. Bains became a 2nd generation Pastor of Saint Samuel Church of God in Christ in the City of East Palo Alto in 1998, carrying on the mantle of his late father Superintendent WL Bains. Pastor Paul also has an entrepreneur heart. He has owned and operated multiple businesses for more than 20 years of his career. In 1999 Pastor Paul and his wife Cheryl founded Project WeHOPE as a means to Help Other People Excel and focused the program on at risk youth as well as addressing the issues of violence in our community. In 2009, after seeing a pillow on a bike rack outside his office, Pastor Paul recognized the need for a homeless shelter. With the help of community leaders, they established the first and only shelter for the homeless in the City of East Palo Alto which began as an emergency shelter only, but is now a year round transitional/emergency shelter. This wonderful shelter is helping to make a difference in the lives of the disenfranchised members of our community through education, job training, housing assistance, and intensive case management. In 2013 an idea sparked to bring dignity to the homeless communities for those homeless refusing service at local shelters, Pastor Paul and Project WeHOPE’s Board Chair Morris Chubb thought it would be a great idea to incorporate another program to service this community. Thus, Dignity on Wheels was born. This mobile hygiene/shower unit to date provides over 20 showers and laundry services a day in both San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Pastor Paul is also the Founder and Director of the Peninsula Chaplaincy Network, a program entity of Project WeHOPE. For 15 years, Pastor Paul has served the Peninsula, most notably as the Senior Police Chaplain in the East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park communities. In addition, he sits on a number of boards including, CWG, Able Works and the East Palo Alto Boys and Girls Club. With a full plate, Pastor Paul knows that family is important, so he intentionally plans family vacations and attends local events with his wife and 3 daughters.

Taia Ergueta

President, An Hour and A White Board

Bio: We are honored to have Taia Ergueta join us as moderator for #AbleForum2017! Taia is an experienced operational executive and business strategist who held executive roles with worldwide responsibility for four major corporations including Hewlett Packard and Varian. She managed the start, acceleration, purchase and turn-arounds of businesses in the computer services, personal computing and life sciences industries. Now, as President of the consulting firm An Hour and a Whiteboard, she advises promising companies, non-profits and individuals on how to go from anxiety to confident momentum quickly. She serves on the Board of Able Works and mentors international social ventures through the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University She also teaches social entrepreneurship, influencing skills and business courses, and has done so in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua, Italy, and Mexico.

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