In our everyday lives, we are constantly exposed to language that devalues and dehumanizes others. We often overlook the consequences of our words on our clients, their families, and even ourselves. Join our webinar to listen to personal stories from individuals who have been affected by dehumanizing language. Additionally, an attorney and mitigation specialist will discuss the importance of using humanizing language, how we can engage in difficult conversations, and how we can shift our perspectives towards our clients just through the language we use. Together, we can change the way our clients are perceived by the system, society, and most importantly, themselves.
Ronda Swenson has an MA in Education with a credential in Sociology & extensive coursework toward completing her Ph.D. in Human Services with a specialization in the Criminal Justice System. A BA in Sociology with extensive units in Criminal Justice. As well as hundreds of hours of continued education training in multiple fields and topics. Her career includes over twenty-five years in Criminal Defense on adult and juvenile cases, focusing on serious felonies & capital cases at both the state and federal levels. Seventeen + years as a Juvenile Dependency Social Worker/Investigator. As well as three years with the Northern California Innocence Project. Ronda started a social work program at a Public Defender’s Office and is certified as a Paralegal and in Forensic Social Work. She also sits on the advisory board of PJDC & the NAPD Education Committee & CDSW Steering Committee. In addition to working in the criminal defense & juvenile dependency field, she has worked for over thirty years teaching children and adults’ modeling & self-esteem skills. Ronda and her family, provided foster care to adolescent “brothers” of all different races and cultures in her home for twenty years which deeply has impacted how she shows up in her work because she has seen first hand how our systems fail children. Lastly, Ronda is a single mother of a beautiful bi-racial daughter who has been by her side advocating throughout her entire career.
Artie Gonzales is the creative who almost never was. A juvenile-tried-as-an-adult at age 16, he spent 21-years of a Life sentence in the California prison system, eight of which included housing within Pelican Bay’s notorious super-max Solitary Confinement unit. It was here that he evolved past the brutality of his surroundings, as well as the highly political stature he held as a gang leader, committing himself to rehabilitation and non-violence. Released as a model prisoner by the Board of Parole Hearings in 2015, he then dedicated himself to building a new life. Applying the same acumen and intelligence that helped him survive the inhumane conditions of our prison system, he has become a leader in his community, an advocate for legislative reforms, and a member of several social justice organizations. After graduating from a Hollywood-oriented workforce development program, Manifest Works of which he presently resides on the board of directors–he rose through the ranks from production assistant to writer, producer, and author of “The Unseen Shackles.” This article sent reverberations throughout the criminal justice reform arena, and is the basis for what he would later coin the term “Conscious Positioning.”
Additionally, he is the Creator and Executive Producer of the anticipated series, “Lessons From A Lifer,” which seeks to shift the culture between the system-impacted and Society by highlighting universal wisdoms and commonality. His platform challenges preconceived notions about what it means to be “System-Impacted,” and creates a fresh narrative as a new voice for this generation of bold storytellers.
is living proof of the power of hope, determination, and optimism. Franky grew up in Lynwood, California, a small suburb of Los Angeles. At
the age of 16, he was arrested for murder, tried and convicted as an adult, and sentenced to life in prison. Throughout the entire process, Franky maintained his innocence and devoted his life to proving that the system made a terrible mistake. For twenty years in prison, Franky never lost hope in himself ,the judicial system, or his unwavering faith in humanity. He wrote hundreds of letters requesting assistance, he filed legal briefs on his own, and after 15 years he finally got the attention of a lawyer who believed in him. During the final court hearing, the new evidence was presented and the prosecutors asked the judge to dismiss all charges. On March 16, 2011, after living
through the most unimaginable human experience, he re-emerged as a compassionate man with no animosity ready to live. After his release, Franky graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Sociology. Based on his experience, Franky has become a renowned champion for fairness and justice – both in the judicial system and beyond. He found his voice and civic engagement early on when he joined the state and national campaign to end the death penalty along with other criminal justice reforms. Franky is an elected member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and chair
of his 52nd assembly district. He’s co-chair of the judicial interview committee. He is also the former Chair of the Los Angeles County Probation Oversight Commission.
Ray Ibarra is a training attorney in California’s Indigent Defense Improvement Division of the Office of the State Public Defender. Prior to this role, he served as a public defender in multiple California counties, Montgomery County, Maryland,and throughout the state of Kentucky. Graduating from Georgetown Law in Washington, DC in 2009 and the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication in 2005, he joined Kentucky’s Department of Public Advocacy in 2011 as an Equal Justice Works Public Defender Corps Fellow specializing in Pretrial Release Litigation. His fourteen years as a public defender there and across California include representation of adults and children at all stages of prosecution, including capital eligible cases. Ray led two different units in Kentucky’s state public defense system, including the new attorney training unit of its Education and Strategic Planning Branch. In addition to being a proud member of the Gideon’s Promise class of 2011, Ray serves on faculty in that program, as well as various trial skills programs. Ray, along with his wife Andrea Kendall, who serves as a Public Defender in Orange County, California, have a combined total of twenty-four years and ten household moves working in public service to build a community of committed and passionate defenders throughout the country.