Xavier McElrath-Bey to lead the CFSY!

March 9, 2023, Washington, DC – The CFSY’s Board of Directors is thrilled to share some exciting news. After nearly 15 years, co-founder and Co-Executive Director Jody Kent Lavy will step down in October 2023 as CFSY’s Co-Executive Director, and Xavier McElrath-Bey will become CFSY’s sole Executive Director and lead our organization into its brilliant next chapter.

The CFSY has been laying the groundwork for this moment since 2018, when we shared our strategic vision for centering the leadership of those directly impacted by the legal system. This vision was born out of a growing understanding in our organization and across the movement that people closest to the issues have unique wisdom to offer, experiences to share, and immeasurably valuable perspectives on how to lead and create change.

We are confident that elevating directly impacted leaders is a highly effective and direct path to reform. The results speak for themselves: Our legislative strategy has been led and informed by people impacted by youth violence and extreme youth sentencing, and as of last month, a majority of states now ban the practice of sentencing children to life without the possibility of parole. It’s also central to CFSY’s commitment to equity, and the dismantling of white supremacist systems that have hitherto structurally barred people of color – especially formerly incarcerated individuals – from leadership opportunities.

Our evolution in the intervening years has been rooted in this vision, and today, directly impacted individuals lead many areas of our work, both on our staff and in our wider community. In 2020, Xavier was tapped to co-lead the organization, and in 2022, we formed the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), which includes three directly impacted leaders, including Xavier, to ensure that our internal operations are aligned with our strategic goals and values. We are incredibly proud to say he will now take the helm as one of a small but growing number of national nonprofit executives who are formerly incarcerated.

We are pleased to share that a committee of staff and board members has been formed to oversee this transition, chaired by our current Board Vice Chair Anita Colón. We’re also happy to note that at the end of the transition, Jody will be staying with the CFSY community, and plans to pursue opportunities to work more directly with, and in support of, ICAN members leading efforts in their communities to address public safety in restorative, age-appropriate, and trauma-informed ways.

Watch a video message from our Co-EDs by clicking the image below!

On behalf of the entire CFSY board and staff, we’d like to express our deep gratitude to Jody for her years of visionary leadership, and our heartfelt congratulations to Xavier. We are excited for the next phase of the CFSY journey, and know that with the support of this incredible community, big things and continued progress await.