Tia Ryans is a political advocate and a direct witness to the insidious and detrimental impact of the criminal justice system. Her areas of passion and study surround the intersectionality between environmental, social, and criminal injustices that impact disenfranchised communities. She also uses her platform to elevate stories of women and girls affected by physical and sexual abuse. As the Founding Executive Director of Forcing Out Recidivism Through Education (F.O.R.T.E. House), she focuses on providing a healthy and stable living environment while promoting autonomy for formerly incarcerated students transitioning from incarceration through post-secondary education. Tia is also the Founder and Chapter Leader of All of Us or None- Northern NJ, where she organizes grassroots advocacy initiatives and community givebacks to support people directly impacted by the criminal justice system and their family members. As a first-generation college graduate, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in both Political Science and African American & African Studies from Rutgers University.
Her experiences include her work with Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) to strengthen and maintain constituent relationships, collaborations with Educational Training Services (ETS) for best practices surrounding justice impacted college students in the educational ecosystem, and presentations in spaces such as The American Association of University Women (AAUW) about the advancements to advocacy and education for women and girls. She is an advisory board member of the Princeton University Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI) and NJ Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons (NJ-STEP) to broaden educational opportunities and access to college in prisons. Tia is also a 2016-2017 Beyond the Bars fellow and a speaker of the Faces of Women Imprisoned (FOWI) Speakers Bureau to deepen and broaden the public conversation around the country through public symposiums.