Name: Desmond Meade
Organization: Florida Rights Restoration Coalition
What Makes This Person a Game Changer:
Desmond Meade is the current President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, and is the driving force behind restoring the voting/civil rights to the over 1.5 million Floridians who are disfranchised in Florida. Believing that voting is a right, and that successful reentry after incarceration will reduce recidivism and crime, Desmond feels that every American citizen who has been disfranchised due to a felony conviction should automatically have their rights restored immediately upon completion of the non-monetary terms of their sentence.
Desmond is greatly respected by his peers, faculty and colleagues, and leaders in the community, and has received many accolades, celebrating his hard work and dedication to leadership and commitment to social justice. Some of the major achievements by Desmond are his induction into Phi Theta Kappa, International Honor Society; induction into MDC Chapter of Lambda Epsilon Chi, The National Honor Society for Paralegal Studies; his recent induction into Sigma Alpha Pi, the National Society of Leadership and Success; being appoint to the Miami Dade College Law Center Advisory Council; being featured as the 2008 MDC Honors Recipient for The Law Center, being the co-founder and inaugural President of MDC’s Society of Law and Community Service; Community Service award by the Sigma Alpha Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Graduating with highest honors with degrees in Paralegal Studies, Pre-Law, and Public Safety Management with a concentration in Criminal Justice, Desmond is now a 3rd year law student at Florida International University’s College of Law. His dedication to social justice and community service is not only reflected in his grades and school activities, but reaches out to all areas of his life. It is his passion to empower those individuals who are reentering communities after being released from incarceration, and those suffering from homelessness. Desmond experienced chronic homelessness for approximately nine years, but was fortunate to have discovered the services offered at Community Partnership for Homeless Inc. The misery culminated in his wanting to commit suicide by train in August of 2005. He didn’t go through with it, and decided to enter into a substance abuse treatment facility where he achieved sobriety. As someone who once suffered from homelessness Desmond Meade has dedicated his time towards finding ways to give back to the community. He is proud to work and hold positions with the following distinguished organizations: PICO Florida Lifelines to Healing Program as an organizer; Homeless Formerly Homeless Forum (H.F.H.F.) as Co-Vice Chair and Chair of the Rights Restoration Committee, South Florida’s Congress for Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) as Restoration of Rights Coordinator, Florida Restoration of Rights Coalition (F.R.R.C.) as former Secretary for the Steering Committee and now President, a board member designee of Miami Dade Homeless Trust, a former member of Florida Attorney General’s Gang Reduction Task Force for Area 7, member of Mt. Olive Development Corporation Re-Entry Coalition and Mentoring, the Black Law Student Association, the Caribbean Student Bar Association, Criminal Law Society, and 1-L Representative of the Student Bar Association
As a (returning citizen) ex-offender, Desmond has the capacity to lend a broader view of the challenges and benefits faced by returning citizens attempting re-entry into their community. He is also a model example of the value of persistence in the commitment to change. His life experiences serves as a perfect conduit to reach both the returning citizen, and the community in the facilitation of a successful re-entry. Desmond’s triumphant story has been featured in several major newspapers throughout Florida, and on television and has been featured as Foot Soldier of the Week on the Melissa Harris Perry Show on MSNBC. Desmond is also featured in the NAACP recently released five-state Billboard Campaign on voting rights.
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