Heather Gaydos

Heather Gaydos
Location: Providence, Rhode Island Cohort Start Year: 2017 Project Topic: Behavioral and Mental Health Population Served: Incarcerated or Formerly Incarcerated Populations
Reentry Project Director
Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights

Over 12,000 individuals cycle in and out of Rhode Island’s prison system on an annual basis, a population with unmet health needs, large barriers to civic engagement, and high recidivism rates. My vision for a culture of health in RI is one in which formerly incarcerated individuals are effectively reintegrated back into the community and afforded the opportunities to live economically viable and healthy lives. This requires a community approach to reentry that recognizes the interconnectedness of the health and success of ex-offenders and the health and success of the entire community. Through my position at the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights in Providence, RI, I will be leading the development and coordination of a community-based statewide prisoner reentry system.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Rhode Island Reentry Collaborative
It’s widely known that individuals involved in the criminal justice system experience disproportionate health disparities. As the nation’s smallest state, with a unified corrections system, Rhode Island should have a model system for prisoner reentry that builds on its community assets to address these inequities; however, it does not have a coordinated approach to criminal justice or reentry planning. This lack of strategic leadership creates siloed and duplicative efforts, impedes the quality and provision of services, and obstructs the attraction of federal and additional resources. My strategic initiative seeks to address these problems by creating the RI Reentry Collaborative (RRC), a network of reentry service providers that serve people transitioning from prison back to communities in the Providence metro area. The RRC will pilot a system for shared case management and community-based collaboration that can eventually be expanded to coordinate services on a statewide level.

My passion for social justice and racial equity has grown throughout the past 15 years of working at community-based organizations in Providence, RI. I have extensive experience working as both a program administrator and direct service provider for justice-involved and high-risk populations.

Click here to watch Heather’s Legacy Project video.