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Meet the Professional Certificate in Restorative Justice Scholarship Recipients

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March 30, 2021

Vermont Law School is proud to announce the recipients of the Professional Certificate in Restorative Justice scholarship, as selected by members of the Advisory Board of the National Center on Restorative Justice.

The certificate program is a unique nine-credit program for graduate students, restorative justice leaders, state and non-profit managers, and other professionals who wish to develop a career focusing on restorative justice or gain skills in restorative practices.

LaNaisha Edwards was born and raised in Harbor City, California. In 2010, LaNaisha’s younger brother, Vinnie Edwards was murdered. This tragedy caused her to reevaluate her life and start taking positive steps towards rebuilding. In the summer of 2011, she enrolled at Compton Community College, where she earned an AA in Liberal Arts. In 2013, Edwards continued her education at California State University - Dominguez Hills where she received a BA in Human Service with a minor in Public Administration.

LaNaisha Edwards

LaNaisha Edwards

LaNaisha started working with Chapter Two in 2016, an agency that works in conjunction with the Los Angeles Gang Reduction Youth Development (GRYD) program. During this time, tragedy struck yet again, with the murder of Edwards's younger brother, Vaughn Edwards in 2016. LaNaisha did not waver in her passion for peace in the face of this egregious act. Instead, she turned her pain into action by joining organizations like Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. LaNaisha received formal Gang Intervention training through the Urban Peace Institute, where she completed the Los Angeles Violence Intervention Training Academy and became certified in violence/gang intervention. She also completed leadership instructor training at Urban Peace where she has instructed gang intervention training. Edwards is an outside organizer and member of Initiate Justice, an agency working to end mass incarceration. LaNaisha continues to develop, coordinate, and facilitate empowerment groups for young women at local high schools, bringing together women from different areas by focusing on commonalities and female empowerment.

Currently, LaNaisha works with the Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice as the Los Angeles Chapter Coordinator. Organizing community events that foster safe spaces for families of crime survivors. She has co-founded United Communities for Peace and The Sistar Circle Women Empowerment Group. She is a member of Trauma-Informed LA and continues to advocate for survivors and impacted people in hopes of creating healthier communities.

Selene Colburn

Selene Colburn

Selene Colburn was born and raised in Burlington. She served on the Burlington City Council from 2014-2017 and has served in the Vermont House since 2017. She is an Associate Library Professor at the University of Vermont with a secondary appointment in the Department of Music and Dance. She has served on the boards of Vermont Community Access Media, Burlington’s Channel 17, Grace Roots Art and Community Effort (GRACE), Cradle to Grave Arts, the Fletcher Free Library Commission, the Vermont Library Association, and the Burlington Parallel Justice Commission. In 2002, she co-founded Vermont Access to Reproductive Freedom. She received a BA in dance from Bennington College and a master’s degree in library and information science from Simmons College. Prior to her employment at UVM, she worked in libraries and archives at the Shelburne Museum, the St. Johnsbury Archives Collaborative, and WGBH in Boston. She lives with her husband and two daughters.

Markey Coleman

Markey Coleman

Markey Coleman was born in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. He is the youngest of five children in the household and was raised primarily by his mother. However, he spent a considerable amount of time with his father in Georgia where he played little league football and studied Martial Arts. Markey was a bright and inquisitive child who enjoyed solving mysteries and aspired to practice law. Nevertheless, as a teenager, his attraction to the street life influenced his decision-making, which led to traumatic experiences and incarceration. As a result, at the age of 20-years-old he was sentenced to 20 years to life. During his incarceration, he decided to educate himself and began to seek knowledge in various subjects. His quest for knowledge led to the Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison where he enrolled in pre-college and eventually Mercy College. Markey was released from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on January 8, 2018, after serving 19.5 years. He has earned various awards and certificates during his incarceration and upon his release. Today he is a research support specialist/community health worker for the Research Foundation at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and continues to seek knowledge for the betterment of himself and his community.

Sean Kyler

Sean Kyler

Sean Kyler works with the vice president of advocacy and partnerships at Vera's Advocacy Department where he helps build out the organization's infrastructure. He also organizes Advocacy, Legislative Change, and Campaigns (ALCC) meetings for staff engaging in advocacy. Sean brings over two decades of experience with the criminal legal system and is a thought partner to many across Vera. Prior to joining Vera, Sean worked for Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison as an academic coordinator. He holds a master’s in professional studies from New York Theological Seminary and a BS in human behavior from Mercy College. His interests include wrongful convictions and parole justice.

Catrina Williams

Catrina Williams

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Catrina Williams, has been an educator for 20 years serving children in under-funded and poverty-stricken school districts. Catrina, or “Ms. W” as she is affectionately called, first experienced Restorative Justice in 2014 where she served at a school in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, Brooklyn which was No.1 in the borough for suspensions. The students that were suspended were primarily Black and Latino males. This was an issue that was close to her heart because of principal, Frank Mickens. Mr. Mickens always told his teachers to “Put the boys in the front and see about them. Get to know them. Don’t put them in the back. Then they will think you don’t care.” Catrina never forgets that. Though Mr. Mickens passed away in 2009, everything she did as an educator she did while remembering the words of Frank Mickens. Once her principal committed to bringing RJ to her school, Catrina and her team were able to utilize RJ in faculty meetings, mediations, re-entry meetings for students and so much more. Unfortunately, the school was closed but RJ never left Catrina’s heart. She was able to implement RJ again at another school in 2017. This was done in conjunction with the Center for Court Innovation (CCI). Together, CCI along with Catrina and several other staff members were able to implement changes that can still be seen and felt at the school today. Currently, Catrina is working at a high school in the Bensonhurt neighborhood of Brooklyn where she is working to develop an RJ program for a school of over 3,000 students.