The Full Citizens Coalition is a Connecticut based action-group focused on undoing the unjust harms caused by felony disenfranchisement, and ensuring that every citizen is respected as a full citizen.
Co-founders / Co-Directors
A local Connecticut leader and powerful emerging voice for justice among formerly
incarcerated leaders. James was incarcerated at the age of 17 and served 19.5 years in prison before being released in 2016. While in prison, James distinguished himself as an extraordinary intellect in Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, before going on to enroll at Trinity College. James has had many significant accomplishments in the short time he has been home. James serves as the current treasurer of the Connecticut Bail Fund, served on the board of Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, has been honored with the 100 Men of Color Distinction, led participatory budgeting with Hartford City Council, and has returned to Cheshire Correctional Institution to speak to residents of its TRUE Unit. James is dedicated to the cause of prison education and has sought opportunities to apply his own experience to benefit those still incarcerated or returning home.
Co-founders / Co-Directors
A Connecticut-based advocate, entrepreneur and changemaker with a resume that
spans work in public policy and government affairs, corporate and entertainment marketing, and startup brand building. Whether originating and serving in the role of Youth Lifestyles Director at Def Jam, Experiential Marketing Manager at Zoom Media/Zoom Forward, Political Director at the Connecticut Working Families Party or National Policy Director at the Restaurant Opportunities Center, Kennard’s leadership and big picture vision has served as an asset. As the founder of the Full Citizens Coalition, Mr Ray has concentrated on creating common sense solutions through building coalitions of often uncommon partners, to produce extraordinary results. As the lead advocate in the passage of Connecticut's first in the nation Paid Sick Leave law, numerous minimum wage increases, the Fair Chance Act -- which "banned the box" on applications for private employment in Connecticut -- and most recently the passage of “Unlock the Vote”, Mr. Ray's body of work has positioned him as a cultural and political leader. As a founding partner, Mr. Ray serves as President and CEO of Earth Strong Naturals, LLC. Earth Strong’s cannabis-lifestyle facing flagship product line, Five Star Fronto, is sold in more than 500 retail locations across the nation and growing. An accomplished campaign manager and policy advisor, Mr. Ray has successfully led or assisted political candidates to victory in municipal, state, and federal campaigns. He serves as an advisor and strategist to community, political and business clients via his Blue Ribbon Strategies consultancy.
Director of Inside Organizing
A Hartford Connecticut native with experience and aspirations in leadership. Clyde was
incarcerated at the age of 22 and served 27 years in prison before being released in 2020 and obtaining a degree from Wesleyan University the day after his release. Clyde Meikle is an FCC associate, and the Executive Director of King Crown Kings (KCK), a newly formed program under FCC, As Executive Director Mr. Meikle is responsible for the cultivation of a cohort of system involved young adult men, through comprehensive programs focused on thought process development and extending their network beyond their communities. Building off his program and mentee development as a founding mentor in Cheshire C.I.'s T.R.U.E. Unit (a collaborative effort between the state of Connecticut and the VERA
Institute's Restoring Promise Initiative). Mr. Meikle creates space for his firmer mentees to further develop by hiring them as associate coordinators who facilitate the programming and cohort meetings. Mr. Meikle fulfills several other roles within FCC including advocating for policies conducive to civic participation and facilitating processes that will help men and women not only reenter society but also have viable occupation and networks for healing. Mr. Meikle's role also extends to providing knowledge and sharing information to FCC and all its subdivisions that is conducive to furthering our mission and overall vision.
FCC Policy Fellow
Patrice Collins is an Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Africana Studies at Northeastern University. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University. Patrice’s research lies at the intersections of race, urban inequality, poverty, mass incarceration, children, and family wellbeing. Patrice’s research has been used to inform and develop policies and protocols that aim to safeguard children during parental arrest and incarceration. Patrice has worked directly with children and families that experience disproportionate police contact, and with the FCC, has offered support for families to deal with the trauma and stigma of having an incarcerated loved one. Her work is centered on facilitating conversations with justice impacted families around healing. Patrice has worked closely with FCC co-founder, James to develop support groups which focus on workshops for healing and civic engagement. These workshops increase individual understanding on laws which impact parents and caregivers of children with incarcerated family members. Additionally, the workshops increase civic understanding on policies that influence the lived experiences of incarcerated people. While operating in a therapeutic capacity with a group of mothers with incarcerated children, it became apparent that crucial to emotional healing was the ability to find voice through social justice advocacy. As such, Patrice and James facilitated family workshops that focused on how policy shapes communities. Over time, the idea of partnering with the Unlock the Vote campaign became critical. The mothers wanted to learn public speaking. Families had something to say, and didn’t want to be held back by the insecurity they felt around their mastery of the english language. Thus, James arranged for the mothers to work with an undergraduate from Yale University who was in the debate club and involved with theatre. The mothers received training in public speaking and the basics of pronunciation, cadence, and breathing. The therapeutic work for the group was essentially fostered by self-empowerment and collective healing. By working with FCC, Patrice organized and mobilized the support groups to engage with the Unlock the Vote campaign. As a result, mothers and caregivers of children with incarcerated family members have learned to canvass their communities and register their neighbors to vote. Civic engagement has been the foundation for families to understand the necessity for healing and social justice for disenfranchised communities.