ACCESS and the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition broke new ground in the world of local advocacy with our inaugural Advocacy Accelerator on Monday, April 23.

ACCESS, American Jewish Committee’s young professionals division, and the coalition brought together a diverse group of young professionals at the Metro Atlanta Chamber to learn about criminal justice reform and human trafficking and to work toward actionable solutions.

We envisioned a program where we could accelerate the process from learning to doing, and that is what we created. We were joined by two expert speakers on criminal justice reform, Fulton County State Court Judge Eric Richardson and Atlanta Corrections Deputy Chief Vance Williams, and two experts on human trafficking, Wellspring Living philanthropic adviser Sarah Richardson and Street Grace President and CEO Bob Rodgers.

Judge Eric Richardson (left) and Deputy Chief Vance Williams discuss criminal justice reform with half the attendees at the Advocacy Accelerator.

Each speaker gave a brief overview before we divided the room in half, giving participants the option to learn more about one subject and to work with the experts and one another to brainstorm advocacy actions.

At the end, the groups reconvened to share what they learned and what they plan.

The criminal justice reform session covered programs being implemented to help people transition back into society after jail or prison and discussed the importance of researching and voting for judges who believe in reform and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

With Sarah Richardson beside him, Street Grace CEO Bob Rodgers talks about human trafficking.

The group focused on human trafficking talked about how participants can convene conversations about human exploitation by raising awareness in different spaces, including schools, workplaces and homes. They also discussed legislation to expunge criminal records and ban prostitution charges for minors as ways to help sex trafficking victims.

The event was powerful and productive.

The black and Jewish communities can be influential in repairing our world, and we were honored to accelerate this process by providing the tools to do so.

(From left) Jeff Fisher, Charisse Price, Bob Rodgers, Sarah Richardson, Judge Eric Richardson, Chris Walker, Deputy Chief Vance Williams and Adam Rabinowitz lead the ACCESS/Black-Jewish Coalition advocacy event.