Rita Zimmer: President
In 2002, Rita Zimmer envisioned and founded Housing Plus Solutions to develop and operate Sunflower Houses—a model of permanent and transitional housing for homeless women, single and with families. Among the initiatives under Ms. Zimmer’s leadership, Housing Plus Solutions pioneered Drew House in 2010, the first family alternative to incarceration program in the nation. In May 2018 Ms. Zimmer spearheaded the incorporation of The Women’s Community Justice Association, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to actively engage in criminal justice reform. Prior to Housing Plus Solutions, Rita Zimmer founded Women In Need, Inc. in 1983, and was its President until 2000. Rita Zimmer has been in recovery for 40 years; she is an accomplished public speaker and advocate. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Ricker College in Maine and received a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from New York University. She serves on the board of directors of Hale House.
Rev. Sharon White-Harrigan, Executive Director
Sharon White-Harrigan is the Executive Director of WCJA-BEYONDrosies2020, a campaign aimed at closing the women’s jail on Rikers Island, NYC, and ensuring that incarcerated women receive the comprehensive, trauma-informed and empowering services that they deserve to heal and have a successful reentry. Prior to leading BEYONDrosies2020, Sharon was the Program Director of a temporary residence for formerly incarcerated women at the Women’s Prison Association. She has worked in a range of direct service fields including reentry, domestic violence, homelessness, mental health and substance abuse. She has also worked on policy advocacy efforts and was a leader in the successful campaign to pass NY’s DV Survivors Justice Act in 2015. Sharon is a motivational speaker who travels the country to speak with a wide range of audiences and press, including the New York Times, Daily News, Amsterdam News, and various radio. In her presentations, Sharon draws upon her expertise as a licensed social worker, survivor of violence, and 11 years of incarceration.She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Lehman College, and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice from City University of New York where she was a Thomas W. Smith Fellow. Sharon is the recipient of many awards including: the 2017 Frank & Lisina Hoch Award for social justice advocacy and activism.
WCJA Board & Steering Committee:
Danielle Minelli Pagnotta