L to R: Kendrick McCray, Alison Reed, & Derek ‘DJ’ James
Photo Credit: Ericka Smith
L to R: Alison Reed, DeAnna Smith, & Casey Guditus
Photo Credit: Meghan Morris
L to R: Casey Guditus & Meghan Morris
Photo Credit: Alison Reed

Co-Founder & Director – Dr. Alison Reed


Dr. Alison Reed is an assistant professor of English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where she directs Humanities Behind Bars. In 2016, she co-founded the prison education program with Dr. Meghan McDowell while they facilitated a weekly reading group for collective study of selected texts by authors such as James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates. In addition to coauthored essays on abolitionist pedagogy with Dr. McDowell, she has published critical and creative work on performance, identity, power, and social movements. With Felice Blake and Paula Ioanide, she co-edited Antiracism Inc.: Why The Way We Talk About Racial Justice Matters (Punctum Books, 2019). Her forthcoming book, Love and Abolition: The Social Life of Black Queer Performance, is under contract with the Black Performance and Cultural Criticism series (edited by Valerie Lee and E. Patrick Johnson) at the Ohio State University Press. Her Pushcart-nominated poetry has appeared most recently in Cimarron ReviewHot Metal Bridge, and CutBank. She offers a course at Norfolk City Jail titled “Soundtracks of Struggle: The Poetics and Politics of U.S. History.”

Public Relations Coordinator – Meghan Morris

Meghan Morris completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a concentration in Literature. She is also a graduate student in the Institute for the Humanities at Old Dominion University concentrating in Gender and Sexuality Studies. As Public Relations Coordinator, Meghan manages HBB’s social media presence such as Facebook, Instagram, and the Humanities Behind Bars website, where she makes sure all program materials are up to date, promotes future and ongoing mutual aid efforts, and maintains relationships with other like-minded grassroots community members and networks. She facilitates general operations of the program under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Alison Reed.

Solidarity Coordinator & Treasurer – Casey Guditus

Casey completed their graduate studies in applied linguistics at ODU with research that critically examines power structures in the U.S. carceral surveillance system as revealed through language in interaction.  They currently teach English classes to speakers of other languages at Tidewater Community College and work as the Programs Specialist at Peninsula READS, a community based adult literacy organization on the Peninsula. Casey has served on fundraising, treasury, and marketing committees since 2012 at the College of William and Mary and Peninsula READS.

Program Coordinator – DeAnna Smith

DeAnna completed her Master’s degree in literature at ODU with a concentration in racial and social/economic resistance to oppression explored through African American and British literature. As Program Coordinator, she is responsible for developing and implementing HBB’s educational and community programs. She also cultivates relationships with local organizations dedicated to community based learning and building stronger communities for those affected by prisons, jails, and detention facilities.

Development Coordinator – Elle Tyson

As part of the development team, Elle Tyson works closely with the solidarity coordinator and program coordinator to continually grow the scope of Humanities Behind Bars. She has taught at Norfolk City Jail, helping her students to obtain GEDs. Elle completed an MA in applied linguistics at Old Dominion University and currently works there as the ePortfolio Support Coordinator in the Center for High Impact Practices.

Prison Education Coordinator – Will Huberdeau

Beyond providing advocacy and education for people who are incarcerated, Will Huberdeau, a high school English teacher living in Norfolk, also volunteers with the Tidewater Immigration Transit Assistance network to make asylum seekers to the States feel safe and welcome in their new home.  An avid reader, Will also writes fiction and poetry which can be found in various print and online journals.  He loves karaoke, biking, and traveling.  Next trip is Lisbon, summer 2021, where he will workshop some fiction pieces with the DISQUIET International program. As HBB’s Prison Education Coordinator, he develops and implements teacher training, spearheads the development and implementation of student and course evaluations, and establishes volunteer educators’ schedules as well as their teaching schedules.

Events Coordinator Patrick Greene

Patrick Greene is originally from Michigan came to Norfolk, Virginia during his tour in the United States Navy, and has lived there since. After retiring, he attended Old Dominion University, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in English and Master’s degree in applied linguistics. He has conducted research pertaining to online hate speech, which he has published with the Southern Poverty Law Center and presented at national and international conferences. He is employed as a technical writer in Chesapeake. As Events Coordinator, he scouts and establishes relationships with venues in order to host HBB events.

Music Director – Kole Matheson

As Music Director for Humanities Behind Bars, Kole Matheson facilitates sound as therapeutic and restorative art. In jail, he writes and produces songs to light away the darkest places, continually amazed in collaboration with the artistic talent on lockdown. You can find Kole playing other local venues with The Bridge Band and leading praise and worship at Great Bridge Presbyterian.

Community Engagement Coordinator – BeeBee

Creative Arts Coordinator – Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks is a graduate student at Old Dominion University pursuing her Master’s degree in English literature. She has a passionate interest in the literature of marginalized people groups, multiracial feminist theory, and feminist video game criticism. Sarah believes in the healing power of creativity and artistic expression in all forms. As the Creative Arts Coordinator, she organizes and implements HBB’s creative initiatives and oversees the publication process of HBB’s zines and other creative arts projects. A Norfolk native, she enjoys painting, creative writing, cooking, hiking, and gaming.

Resident Poet and Artist – Derek James

Website Creator – Joy Camacho