NJ-STEP

Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons

Staff

Christopher J. Agans, Executive Director 

Chris is Director of the NJ-STEP administrative team, coordinating services for students attending college in prison and connecting them to college in community. He is a graduate of both Rutgers College and Rutgers Graduate School of Education where he earned a Masters Degree in Educational Administration. Prior to developing the transitional supports for formerly incarcerated students at Rutgers University (now known and the Rutgers Mountainview Communities),  Chris was the Director of the federally funded TRIO Student Support Services program for Rutgers New Brunswick. There he managed all aspects of academic and personal support services for low-income, first-generation college students. He has served at Rutgers since 1999 in a wide variety of other roles as well, including: IT professional; residence counselor; and a course instructor for various programs and departments.

Ray Tebout, Assistant Dean Of Student Services/Director of Counseling

Ray is currently the Assistant Dean of Student Services for NJSTEP, where he provides strategic leadership, directs the in-prison counseling staff and institutional liaison and helps resolve complex student issues. Ray has focused his career on developing organizational systems and strategies which support the holistic transition of people with criminal justice system involvement into the community. Prior to working with NJSTEP,  Ray has managed higher-education and work readiness programs at the College Initiative and Fortune Society and has consulted with a number of other organizations, helping to develop leadership strategies for empowering staff who provide services to justice-involved populations. He has also worked with a number of justice reform and addiction treatment organizations to align their management goals with client-centered outcomes. Ray’s specialty areas include Theory Y leadership development, HR management, workforce transition, college access program development, staff training and performance improvement planning. Ray holds a BA in Counseling Psychology and Economics from the City University of New York and is currently completing his MS in Human Resource Management with Central Michigan University. Ray holds current certifications in strategic human resources, addiction counseling, and strength based human service practices. For more information about Ray’s professional experience, please click here.

Regina Diamond-Rodriguez,  MVC Counselor – Newark, Director of Transitions (Acting)

Regina provides direct support to NJ-STEP students enrolled at Rutgers – Newark through the Mountainview Program. Regina is a Licensed Social Worker and graduate of Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service (MSW). Regina earned her BA in Social Work at Rutgers where she earned a number of awards and scholarships for her leadership in the LGBTQ Community as well as her service and involvement with the Mountainview Program. This includes her role as co-founder of the Mountainview Project Student Organization (MVP-SO).  Regina joins NJ-STEP after spending several years as a care manager for children and teens with mental, emotional and behavioral health challenges.  Her work included advocating for court-involved youth and linking children and families to resources in their communities and within their school systems.

 

Joshua J. Eaise, Academic Counselor

Josh is the Academic Counselor at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, NJ, where he provides academic advising and support to incarcerated NJ STEP students. Prior to joining NJ-STEP, Josh taught for several years in the Political Science Department and the Rutgers Writing Program, both at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University-Camden and earned an M.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

 

Derek Elkins, Data Manager

Derek worked with NJ-STEP as the Admissions Officer for two years assisting students with college enrollment and financial aid after release from prison. Derek transitioned to his current role with NJ-STEP after leading the implementation of the Edvance Software System. Derek measures data needs for specific projects, determines course needs and schedules, establishes data quality standards, and oversees all reporting to VERA, Sunshine Lady, Ford Foundation, Rutgers University, and other NJ-STEP partners.

Derek spent several years working in admissions for the graduate and theological schools at Drew University. Derek holds two M.A. degrees in religion and education from Union Presbyterian Seminary and Drew University; he earned a B.A. in philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A focus of Derek’s academic work was the resilience of children with incarcerated parents. His article, “Lift Every Voice: The Humanizing Work of Children’s Testimony in Response to the Effects of Parental Incarceration,” was published in the 2012 volume of the Journal of Childhood and Religion.

 

Isaiah Fudge, Completion Counselor

Isaiah joins NJ-STEP as the Completion Counselor for the program.  Isaiah’s background in education spans 9 years, where he has held various roles in middle school, secondary, and higher education. He has first-hand experience with many of the flawed systems that negatively impact underserved groups. A certified teacher in the state of New Jersey, Isaiah spent countless hours designing lessons that broadened his students’ thinking about the world around them. He transitioned into guidance when he recognized his ability to impact students in a less confined role.  His approach helped students on the front-end of being “caught in the system”. Now, Isaiah hopes to help students recognize, establish, and explore a new “front-end” in their lives by being a supportive resource as they journey through college.

 

Reginald Gaines, NJ-STEP Counselor

Reginald is the Academic Counselor for NJ-STEP at Northern State Prison. As an adviser he assists students in navigating the pursuit of higher education in prisons and community release programs in addition to providing pre and post release transitional support. Before joining NJ-STEP he served two terms as an AmeriCorps Service Member and remains a dedicated community volunteer as an alumnus. Mr. Gaines is involved in community projects and civic leadership. His activism encompasses outreach, focus groups, and public forums focusing on a range of issues associated with social, economic and environmental circumstances. Mr. Gaines earned his BA degree in Human Resource Management from Rutgers as an NJSTEP participant and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Labor and Employment Relations at Rutgers University.

 

Latoya Hamlin, NJ-STEP Counselor

Latoya is the Academic Counselor at Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility and Garden State Youth Correctional Facility. She is a graduate of Rutgers University College of Arts and Sciences-New Brunswick, where she majored in English. Latoya is also a graduate of Monmouth University’s School of Education where she earned an MSEd in Student Affairs and College Counseling. Latoya is a nationally certified counselor with a passion for academic advising and social justice issues.

 

Haja Kamara, NJ-STEP Counselor

Haja is the Academic Counselor for NJ-STEP at East Jersey State Prison. Prior to this, she served as a regional transitional counselor for NJ-STEP students reentering their communities and hoping to connect to college on the outside. Haja graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, and is a current Leadership Newark Fellow.

 

Eric Pereira, MVC Counselor – New Brunswick

Eric is a recent graduate of Rutgers University and the Mountainview Community.  He holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology, and finished first place for his honors research project, “Inside Out: A Look into Prison Culture and Limitations on College Participation.”  Eric has been involved with NJ-STEP since 2012; he served on the Student Advisory Board inside and for the Mountainview Community on campus. Eric joins us in his current role after spending the past year as an MVC intern and TA for the Mountainview Community Seminar Course in New Brunswick

 

Gerardine Philippe, Institutional Liaison

Gerardine Philippe is the Institutional Liaison for NJ-STEP, serving as the primary point of contact between NJ Dept. Of Corrections , NJSTEP Staff, and Institutional Partners. She maintains regular communication with the different entities to help ensure that that overall goals of NJ-STEP are met. Gerardine earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at Montclair State University. At MSU she had the privilege of teaching Psychology to first-year students before her departure. Gerardine also earned both her M.A. and Ph.d. in Educational Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, where she served on various research team boards. Her own research focused on understanding the self-regulatory skills and motivation of students deemed academically underprepared upon college admission. Gerardine is an active member of her church community, Maranatha Baptist Church, where she enjoys leading in the Young Adult department.

 

Tammi L. Pitt, Departmental Administrator

Tammi is NJ STEP’s Departmental Administrator and Office Manager.  A native of Newark, New Jersey, Tammi received her bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University and a Master’s in Public Administration from Rutgers- Newark in 2006.  Tammi has over fifteen years of experience in higher education that covers business/project management, certifications, coordinating, academic advisement, and classroom instruction.

 

Amarilis Diamond-Rodriguez,  STEP Academic Counselor

Amarilis Rodriguez is the Academic Counselor at New Jersey’s Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women and the Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility. She is a graduate of both Rutgers University and Douglass College, where she completed her Joint Bachelor of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies, and Information Technology and Informatics with a minor in Social Justice – graduating cum laude. As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, she researched the effects of migration on gender identity in Puerto Rican women. She was also an Aresty Undergraduate Research Fellow and the recipient of the 2013 Dee Garrison Award for Justice and Peacemaking, along with many other awards. She also earned an MA in Criminal Justice from Rutgers School of Criminal Justice in 2018. Amarilis currently serves on the Rutgers – Newark Staff Council.