Douglas DiLosa was wrongfully convicted of second degree murder in 1987 and sentenced to life in prison without the possiblity of parole. While incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola Doug worked as an inmate legal counsel assisting fellow prisoners with their legal cases, while also pursuing public records requests and appeals to fight his own case. Based on the information and evidence Doug was able to gather on his case, in 2000 the Federal Court reversed his conviction and he was released from prison in January of 2001. Although Doug was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing in his case, since his exoneration, he has struggled to rebuild his life. Despite a college education & extensive professional experience in human resources management and residential construction/development it was nearly impossible to find meaningful employment due to his 14 years of incarceration. Like most of the clients Rising Foundations' serves, during the 15 years since his release Doug was been rejected from literally hundreds of jobs. In 2015 Doug joined Rising Foundations to serve as a project coordinator overseeing the workforce development program, managing residential construction projects, and helping other formerly incarcerated people rebuild their lives.
Kelly Orians is a graduate of UCLA School of Law where she specialized in public interest law and policy, business law and policy, and critical race studies. While in law school Kelly focused on developing strategies to reduce mass incarceration through community economic development projects in low income communities of color. Prior to law school Kelly worked as a Project Coordinator at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL) managing a statewide advocacy campaign to End Life Without Parole Sentencing for Juveniles (JLWOP). Kelly helped create public policy and impact litigation strategies, including the implementation of the Graham v. Florida decision, which made JLWOP unconstitutional in non-homicide cases. Kelly worked on the legal team that secured the release of the first two people in the country under Graham, drove them home from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, and continues today to assist them with their reentry. Through this work Kelly was exposed to the many barriers people and their families face when someone returns home from prison and began taking innovative approaches to combat the lack of reentry resources in New Orleans. In 2015 she was awarded a prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship to launch RisingFoundations. In May of 2016 she was sworn into the Louisiana State Bar.
In 1985 Calvin Duncan was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to life without any possibility of parole. While in prison at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola Calvin served as inmate counsel handling the cases of hundreds of fellow inmates, including helping to secure a new trial for celebrated prison journalist Wilbert Rideau. Calvin also initiated the litigation that culminated in the 2012 victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in Juan Smith v. Burl Cain, which vacated Juan Smith’s death sentence. After nearly 30 years in prison Calvin won his freedom, and has since served as paralegal at the Louisiana Capital Appeals Project and Education Coordinator for the Louisiana Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. In 2012 Calvin was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship to vindicate the post-conviction rights of incarcerated people by increasing their access to the courts, and by raising awareness around the inequities in the post-conviction process. In 2014 Calvin co-founded The First 72+ a transitional home and reentry program started by and for people returning home from prison. In 2015 Calvin was awarded a prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship to launch RisingFoundations.
Derrick Perique is a lifelong resident of New Orleans' Gentilly neighborhood. By the age of 28 he had five felony convictions for distribution of narcotics and illegal possession of a firearm. After his last arrest in 2011, facing several decades in prison, Derrick was fortunate to instead be sentenced in the "Orleans Parish Reentry Workforce Development Program" by Judge Laurie White. While Derrick was incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola he learned how to be an optician, ultimately earning over 30 certifications in the trade. While he was making eye glasses for his fellow prisoners he learned the industry, created a business model, and wrote a business plan. As Derrick puts it, "I had a vision, about vision, while in prison!" Upon release from prison in 2013 he moved to Maryland where he got a job with Pearl Vision. At Pearl Vision he was able to save some money, learn more about the business, and ultimately launch his own home based business, "Custom Optical." In February of 2016 he moved his business back to New Orleans and opened up his first retail location a few blocks from the house he group up in. His first hire was someone recently released from prison. In May of 2016 Derrick joined RisingFoundations to coordinate our small business incubator, assisting some of the same men he was incarcerated with in starting their own business.
Program Coordinator - Small Business Incubator
Project Coordinator - Keller Mansion
Daniel Tapia is a life long resident of New Orleans. When he was 11 he started working to support himself and his family, and like many others, selling drugs was one of the few opportunities he had to make money. In 2005 he was wrongfully convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life without the possiblity of parole. Prior to his transfer to a state correctional facility he survived Hurricaine Katrina while in the custody of Orleans Parish Prison. Like many people in prison serving life without parole sentences Daniel did not have access to educational programming, but he never gave up. Finally the opportunity presented itself and he began studying business management through independent and long distance studies at Louisiana State University where he maintained a 3.0 grade point average. He also completed a certification program through Penn Foster Career School for automobile repair. After years of appeals, Daniel was finally offered a new trial, and after 12 years in prison was finally released. When he first came home, he was rejected from numerous jobs and housing opportunities because of his felony record. However, just as he did with his education in prison, and his pursuit of a new trial, he never gave up. In the year after his release Daniel secured gainful employment, a stable place to live, he is a father, and he is Lead Mentor at Rising Foundations - where he is able to pursue his passion of guiding other men and women in changing themselves, their communities, and the circumstances around them.