Annie Freitas, Program Director, Founding Member


Originally from Oakland, California, Annie has lived in New Orleans since 2011. Annie received her B.A. from Scripps College in Claremont, CA where she double majored in Psychology and Theater. In college, she spent her time teaching writing and theater in correctional facilities for women and children and developing college preparatory courses for her former high school. Upon graduation, Annie moved to New Orleans and worked for four years as a teacher in Orleans and Jefferson Parish.

In addition to her work with LAPEC, Annie is a Ph.D. student in Tulane University’s City, Culture, and Community program. Her current research focuses on higher education in prison and she is interested in developing and evaluating accredited college programs for prisons in Louisiana through participatory action research with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.


Rhiannon Dowling, Program Director, Founding Member


Rhiannon is a founding member and a co-program director of the Louisiana Prison Education Coalition (LAPEC). In addition to her work with LAPEC, Rhiannon is completing her dissertation in the History Department of the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation, entitled “Brezhnev’s War on Crime: The Criminal in Soviet Society, 1963-1982,” is a social history of criminal justice in the late Soviet Union, studying the effects of the state’s changing approaches to crime and punishment on the ideological and political loyalty and identities of the population.


Elizabeth McDermott, Women FIRST Clinic Lead Teacher


Elizabeth has spent over a decade working with women and families as a crisis counselor and educator in Washington DC, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, and abroad. She has served as an Adult Education teacher at community centers, school districts, and women’s and homeless shelters. Elizabeth is passionate about critical theory, ethics, moral philosophy, and policy that affects vulnerable populations. She is excited to have the opportunity to work with LAPEC as an educator within the criminal justice system.


Sade Dumas, Women FIRST Clinic Program Coordinator

In 2016 Sade graduated from Tulane University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, concentrating in Crime and Human Development, Sociology of Education, and Social Psychology. She has worked or volunteered for several organizations including Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, Voice of the Experienced, Silence the Violence, and Women with a Vision. After starting out as a tutor for LAPEC’s Women FIRST Clinic in May 2016, Sade was promoted to program coordinator, where she supervises program administration in addition to recruiting and serving as liaison to participants


Stephanie Gaskill, OPP HiSET tutoring with UNO Teacher

Stephanie has been researching and writing about religion and Louisiana’s criminal justice system since 2012. She has taught undergraduate courses about religion and social movements, and served as a university writing tutor. Stephanie is dedicated to teaching and working with formerly incarcerated people to change public policy. She is honored to be a part of LAPEC’s efforts to provide educational opportunities to people in jail and prison.