Meet the IPP Team
Leonard spent over 23 years incarcerated within California’s jail and prison system for a 15-year-to-life sentence for second degree murder. While incarcerated at San Quentin, Leonard created the Responsibility, Rehabilitation, & Restoration Interfaith Roundtable to promote restorative justice by including prisoners and volunteers from many faith and ethnic backgrounds to work together. Leonard participated in numerous IPP programs as a participant and as co-facilitator for: Victim/Offender Education Group (VOEG), Next Step, the Violence Prevention Program, Violence Prevention Program Facilitator Training, and many others. Leonard earned an Associate of Arts Degree in General Education from Patten University and created other opportunities for prisoners to further their education. Since his release, he has married, earned a bachelor’s degree in both Finance and Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of San Francisco (USF), was awarded the USF Archbishop Oscar Romero Leadership Award, and continues to promote restorative justice through public speaking. Leonard and his wife Aouie have been featured in USF Magazine Summer 2013 for their work in restorative justice.
Smita Dey Coger, MSW
In her pursuit of supporting work that unveils the power of groups historically oppressed, victimized, &
under-served, Smita was honored to join IPP as the Director of Programs in February 2019. Smita will be
overseeing all IPP programming in 22 prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities in California and nationwide.
Smita hails all the way from Baltimore, MD, where she worked on program development, restorative
practice (RP) trainings, resource development, strategic planning, and advocacy targeting the use of RP
and eliminating the school to prison pipeline. Smita has advocated and written testimony for Maryland
State legislature for RP facilitation and has spoken with US Congressional offices to reject bills that
dismantle the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which also reduce the focus on RP. Smita was a
representative on the MD State Commission on the School-To-Prison Pipeline to help MD use RP in
public schools as well as address the racial disparities in discipline, and prevent children from
incarceration. Smita has also worked with formally incarcerated adults as a rehabilitation counselor and
crisis counselor, where she actively supported people in reaching their reentry goals, which targeted
mental health, career, education, and life milestones. Smita displays an ethical approach to her work
and makes a conscious effort to improve her abilities by placing a priority on equality, equity, and
cultural consciousness. Smita received her B.S. in Biology and B.S. in Psychology from the University of
Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and her Master in Social Work from the University of Maryland
School of Social Work in Baltimore, Maryland.
Dwayne has been part of the IPP family for approximately five years now. Dwayne became an IPP Victim Offender Education Group (VOEG) facilitator in 2014 and began helping Dr. Andrea Travers with the VOEG program at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. Dwayne moved to the central valley to assist Circles of Support and Accountability-Fresno (COSA Fresno) with implementing restorative practices in that area. While living in Fresno, he began facilitating VOEG at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla on Saturdays, where he is currently facilitating two cohorts. At the Beyond the Bars Fall Fundraiser in 2018, in appreciation for his continual efforts to support IPP he was awarded the “Above and Beyond Award.” Dwayne was an easy choice when the Programs Replication Manager position opened up in early February and he jumped at the opportunity to work full-time with IPP. Dwayne is committed to the people we serve and to keeping the programs going with integrity and accountability.
James Houston started in the Victim Offender Education Group (VOEG) as a participant in one of its first groups. He later became a peer facilitator which kept him connected to the program for several years. After his release from San Quentin State Prison in 2013, James started working as the Program Coordinator for the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) in Richmond where he continues to work with young men who are active firearm offenders. As a Youth Program Development Consultant, James will work in collaboration with Sam Vaughn to bring IPP’s Victim Offender Education Group to the young men he serves.
Sam is a committed mentor for violence-prone youth in what was once one of the top ten most dangerous cities in the country. He serves as a Program Manager for Richmond, California’s Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS). His experiences being mentored by elders, while incarcerated for a decade, inspired him to become a community leader and help other young men avoid his fate. Believing that violent youth will make better choices for themselves and their communities when able to visualize a healthier path and given life skills, the ONS fellowship program serves as surrogate family for these young men. Over 80% of the ONS fellows have stayed away from gun violence and now live with much more hope and promise. As a Youth Program Development Consultant, Sam will work in collaboration with James Houston to bring IPP’s Victim Offender Education Group to the young men he serves.