Director, West Coast Initiatives
Chidinma Ume is the Director of West Coast Initiatives. Ms. Ume leads the operations and growth of the Center’s efforts on the West Coast and advances the organizational aims of co-creating justice, promoting vibrant communities, increasing felony decarceration, and building equitable systems. Prior to this role, Ms. Ume served as the Deputy Director of Policy and then as the Interim Director of Policy. In these roles, respectively, Ms. Ume provided direct technical assistance on jail reduction, alternatives to incarceration, criminal justice debt reform, community engagement, racial equity, and restorative justice and went on to oversee a range of consulting projects, including the Center’s work in the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge. Before joining the Center, Ms. Ume was a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and then became the Executive Director for Justice Operations at the New York City Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ). At MOCJ, she led several Mayoral initiatives to reduce the Rikers Island jail population and worked collaboratively with criminal justice system actors to make New York City's system safer and fairer. Ms. Ume’s work spanned a broad range of reforms, ultimately improving case processing, indigent defense oversight, and mental competency examinations for people held in jail. Ms. Ume received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where she defended clients in D.C. Superior Court and before the US Parole Commission. Ms. Ume is an adjunct professor at Pepperdine Law School and serves on multiple steering and advisory committees that improve how the criminal legal system serves the people it encounters.
Read Power of the People, a piece co-authored by Chidinma Ume in May 2020.