Panel: Restorative Justice and the Arts Amongst Juvenile Populations
Join us on September 16 at 6 PM at the Erie Art Museum or Facebook Live!
On September 16 at 6:00 PM, join Erie Arts & Culture at the Erie Art Museum for a live panel discussion focused on restorative justice through the arts amongst juvenile populations. The conversation will be moderated by Ken Nickson, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Erie's Public Schools. Contributing to this important conversation are:
Tony Rodrigues - Erie Arts & Culture's visiting artist for the month of September. For more than 20 years, Tony has taught painting to youth at a Duval County pre-trial detention center.
Antonio Howard - A rostered teaching artist with Erie Arts & Culture and a community muralist. Antonio is a former juvenile lifer.
Maria Goellner - Maria is a former Federal Public Defender and now serves as the Pennsylvania State Policy Director at FAMM, a nonpartisan criminal justice reform organization that amplifies the voices of families impacted by incarceration.
The panel will be followed by an audience Q&A.
Through a partnership with Community Access Media (CAM), this discussion will be streamed through Erie Arts & Culture and CAM's digital platforms, including Facebook Live and YouTube.
What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice is a system of criminal justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.
Born and raised in Erie, PA, Ken Nickson, Jr. is a 1996 graduate of Central High School. He graduated from Clarion University of PA, in May 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, specializing in Elementary/Special Education. He earned his Master’s in Educational Leadership in 2006 from Gannon University and currently holds a Principal Certificate and a Superintendent Letter of Eligibility. His professional career began in Pittsburgh, during the final semester of student teaching for Clarion, when he was hired as an Emotional Support teacher and given his own classroom in Pittsburgh’s Public Schools. It was there that Ken began to fuse his formal education with his life experiences to impart knowledge and impact the lives of the 10 middle school aged boys under his tutelage. Since then, Ken has worked his 19-year career with Erie’s Public Schools in various roles including his current role as Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion always holding the education and empowerment of the student as an integral priority. Ken is married to his high school sweetheart Tica, is a Birth Doula and Lactation Consultant, who currently works as the Director of Prevention for Emma’s Footprints. Together they have 4 kids, all of which are student athletes who attend Erie’s Public Schools. Ken also has a son who lives in Columbus, Georgia who is recent graduate from that area’s public school district.
Ken and his family attend Grace Church online. He is a man of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. When away from work, his time is spent coaching and watching his kids play sports. He enjoys date nights with his wife, and sneaking in some racquetball, biking, and fishing in the numerous waterways in his beloved hometown.
Antonio Howard is an autodidactic artist. At the young age of 15, he was incarcerated and sentenced to life in prison where he served 26 ½ years. While in prison, he educated himself on the concepts and processes of visual art-making through instructional books. He writes, “Although I often dreamed of being an escape artist, as a visual artist, my paintings broke free of [prison] long before I did.” Released in 2017 and now living as a civilian here in Erie, he is committed to serving Erie and documenting his life through his paintings. Antonio is the 2019 recipient of Erie Arts and Culture’s Emerging Artist Fellowship. He is a 2021 Teaching Artist through Erie Arts and Culture / Pa Arts Counsel, and since 2020 has participated in the creation of several murals throughout Erie including, Whole Foods Co-Op mural; the Manus Sunoco Mural honoring 93-year-old veteran, educator, and Gannon alumni Luther Manus; The MHA tree of Life mural; two City of Erie bandwagons; and a Purple Martin mural currently under way on behalf of Bayfront Eastside Taskforce. Antonio is also the author of three books: When A Child Is Worth More Than the Worst Mistake He Ever Made; A Black Man and A Spear(e); and Love Is When You Want The Best (For Someone Else). He sits on the board of directors for the Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania and is a member of the steering committee for the Pardon Project of Erie County. He is also a core member of Erie’s Participatory Defense, an Erie community organization that offers support to individuals and their loved ones navigating the criminal legal system. He is also past president of the CHROMA Guild whose mission advances opportunities and access to resources for creative and cultural professionals of color in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The regional network builds both individual and organizational capacity by expanding equity and inclusion within the area’s cultural and creative sector. In his day job, Antonio works as a paralegal with the Federal Public Defender.
Maria Goellner (“gell-ner”) is a public interest attorney and equal justice advocate. She is the Pennsylvania State Policy Director for FAMM, a nonpartisan criminal justice reform organization. Prior to joining FAMM, Maria was the sole Assistant Federal Defender for the Western District of Pennsylvania’s Erie Division. She has protected the rights and dignity of thousands of adults, children, and families in Erie, Florida, and New York City. She serves on the Board of the Erie County Bar Association. Maria is a second-generation American and lives in Erie, Pennsylvania with her family.
Tony is Erie Arts & Culture's current visiting artist in residence. Tony Rodrigues received his BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in the early 90s. Immediately following college, Tony began working as an art handler, transporter, and installer for Georgia and Florida galleries and museums, while also building his career as a painter. Tony describes his work as appropriation with not so much of a Pop sensibility, but more of tangible aesthetic of Dadaism with a southern tinge. In addition to maintaining his studio practice, Tony is a 20+ year rostered teaching artist in Northeast Florida, conducting teaching artist residencies through the non-profit arts organization Cathedral Arts Project. Since the early 2000s, Tony has also taught drawing and painting at the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University.