Troy Burner is an accomplished motivational speaker and skilled mentor, and shares his extraordinary story of survival and resilience in the criminal legal system and ultimately exoneration, with the goal of reforming the criminal justice system. Troy has held a number of jobs, gaining valuable skills in advocacy, public policy, grassroots organizing, and people management. He is currently an intern with the D.C. Reentry Action Network and is also employed providing mentorship and peer-navigation for those who are transitioning back into society after incarceration. Troy is dedicated to bringing justice to disenfranchised communities; he is a leader in the restorative justice movement and dreams of one day leading his own organization, focusing on community building and empowerment.
Through classes, on the job training, and volunteering, Troy has developed proficiency in:
- General Laborer: grounds keeping, general maintenance, floor buffing and treatment, basic plumbing;
- Community Enrichment: develop and implement recreational and enrichment programs and activities for youth;
- Strategic Communications: motivational speaking; public presentations to various media outlets; written pieces; interviews
- Advocacy: dialogue about juvenile justice strategy and reform; written and verbal testimony before legislative bodies; and
- Project and Human Resource Management: supervision; project implementation and ongoing management; payroll.
Troy is a seasoned public speaker, providing motivational talks, remarks and presentations at diverse events including national conferences. He is trained in restorative justice techniques, skilled at conflict resolution, has the ability to multi-task and works well with a team. Troy is a passionate advocate with a desire to create a better world for children and future generations. His life’s mantra is “as long as there is breath in the body, there is a chance to make improvements, be better and move forward.” He is very active in his community: he believes in supporting the growth of others, for the betterment of all, and feels a personal responsibility to be a mentor for his peers and work to reform the criminal legal system to be more humane and equitable.
- Active Leader in the national, first of its kind Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network.
- Mentor and Peer Navigator supporting individuals in their return to society after decades behind bars. Secure resources, attend hearings and provide written court testimony.
- Intern, D.C. Reentry Action Network, collaborating with diverse partners and stakeholders to garner a variety of supports, and addressing the effects of COVID-19, for returning citizens.
- Community Outreach Intern at a national advocacy organization, where he was responsible for researching policy implications of local D.C. legislation, and became skilled at restorative justice techniques for juveniles.
- Held a Variety of Jobs including Recreation Specialist, Librarian, General Maintenance Worker, Radiology Technician Aide and Recreational Aide.
- Certificate in Business and Entrepreneurship from Georgetown University, General Education Diploma, and a Certification as a ServSafe Food Preparer.
Troy spent 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The crime occurred when he was 17, he was arrested at the age of 21, released in 2018, and finally exonerated in 2020. Despite the injustice of his experience, he made a commitment to himself to use his life story to fuel his advocacy work; he is driven by purpose not resentment.
Troy grew up in a tight-knit family that instilled in him the importance of giving back to the community. His grandmother ran a community center and sponsored and organized trips for the neighborhood youth. During his incarceration, Troy was intentional about finding reasons to smile and laugh, including frequent communication with his family.
The same holds true for him today. Troy is an optimist, and lives a humble life built on a foundation of forgiveness and resilience. He spends his free time studying the law and using his voice and story to reform the criminal legal system. His ultimate dream is to have a career making a difference in the lives of those around him and lifting up disenfranchised communities.