Meek Mill is a critically-acclaimed multiplatinum hip-hop artist, songwriter and entrepreneur that hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Meek Mill evolved from Philadelphia’s hottest underground rapper to one of the world’s preeminent musical artists, having released a slew of smash studio albums and singles, including “Ima Boss,” “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro),” “All Eyes on You,” and “Whatever You Need,” among many others.
When Meek was 19 years old, he was wrongfully arrested for gun and drug charges in his hometown. At his trial, Meek maintained his innocence on all but one charge, but his arresting officer – whom has since been discredited – was the lone testifying witness in the case. As a result of the officer’s testimony, Meek was sentenced to 11-23 months in prison with eight years of probation, which has been unreasonably extended through 2023. Despite never committing a crime as a probationer, Meek was sentenced to two-to-four-year prison sentence for technical probation violations in November 2017, which spurred an international #FreeMeek campaign and ultimately resulted in his release on bail in April 2018.
As it stands, significant irregularities exist regarding Meek’s initial arrest, including newly-discovered evidence indicating that the arresting officer lied on the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant and on the stand at Meek’s hearing. The officer was later investigated by federal authorities for corrupt behavior in several cases – including falsifying evidence, physical assault, perjury and theft – and resigned from the force after the Philadelphia Police Department found him guilty for engaging in criminal conduct. Due to his corrupt conduct, the officer was later included on the District Attorney’s “Do Not Call” list.
Internet entrepreneur Michael Rubin founded e-commerce pioneer GSI Commerce in 1999, which he later sold to eBay for $2.4 billion in 2011.
Rubin is currently Executive Chairman of three online retailers: Fanatics, Rue La La and ShopRunner. He is also a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils.
Both born and raised in Philadelphia, Rubin and Meek are close personal friends. On November 6, 2017, Rubin attended a hearing for Meek that resulted from a technical violation of Meek’s protracted, decade-long probation. After writing a letter to the Judge on Meek’s behalf and hearing Meek’s probation officer and the Assistant District Attorney both recommend no prison time, Rubin was stunned to witness the judge sentence Meek to 2-4 years in state prison. The event was life-changing for both men. Rubin immediately joined forces with Jay Z and Roc Nation to lead the fight to overturn Meek’s sentence.
During this process Rubin and Meek realized that problems in the criminal justice system extend well beyond Meek’s case. They made a decision to stand with the millions of men and women unjustly ensnared in the broken criminal justice system by launching Justice Reform Alliance, a movement to move one million men and women out of the criminal justice system over the next five years by changing the laws, policies and practices that contribute to mass incarceration.
Van Jones is the CEO of REFORM, CNN political contributor, and host of The Van Jones Show on CNN
Jones has been a leader in the fight for criminal justice reform for more than 25 years. He has founded and led many thriving social enterprises, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and the Dream Corps – a social justice accelerator that houses #YesWeCode, #GreenForAll, and #cut50, the organization that recently led the charge on passing the FIRST STEP Act (a bipartisan Federal bill that the New York Times calls the most substantial breakthrough in criminal justice in a generation).
Jones is a Yale-educated attorney. He is the author of three New York Times best-selling books, The Green Collar Economy (2008), Rebuild the Dream (2012), and Beyond the Messy Truth (2017). In 2009, Jones worked as the Green Jobs Advisor to President Barack Obama, where he helped to lead the inter-agency process that oversaw the multi-billion dollar investment in skills training and jobs development within the environmental and green energy sectors.
Jones has been honored with numerous awards and spotlighted on several lists of high achievers, including the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation, Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done,” TIME’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and the Root’s 2014 “The Root 100.”
Since 1996, 21-time GRAMMY award-winner, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter has been a dominant force in popular culture. Among his vast entrepreneurial achievements, Mr. Carter has used the platform he has been afforded to speak on various issues, including criminal justice. In September 2016, Carter teamed with Molly Crabapple for “The War On Drugs Is An Epic Fail,” a history lesson on the war on drugs and a call to end biased policing and mass incarceration. Over the next year, Carter executive produced the Peabody Award-winning documentary series, TIME: The Kalief Browder Story, which tackled juveniles in solitary confinement and the New York bail system and penned a powerful op-ed on Meek Mill, bringing to light the lifetime prison that is probation. Mr. Carter also serves as executive producer of the 2018 critically, Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story and the upcoming untitled six-part Meek Mill documentary series.
Robert Kraft is the founder, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, based in Foxborough, Mass. The Kraft Group is the holding company of the Kraft family’s many businesses, including the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Boston Uprising, Gillette Stadium, Patriot Place, International Forest Products, Rand-Whitney Group, Rand-Whitney Containerboard and a portfolio of more than 100 private equity investments. Kraft is widely recognized as one of the most successful owners in professional sports. In his first 25 years of ownership (1994-2018), the Patriots won an NFL-best five Super Bowl titles and earned the highest winning percentage (.698) of any team among the nation’s five major professional sports leagues. A native of Brookline, Mass., Kraft attended public school before earning an academic scholarship to Columbia University, followed by a fellowship to Harvard Business School. Over the past five decades, the Kraft family has been one of New England’s most philanthropic families, donating hundreds of millions of dollars in support of local charities, civic affairs and health care. Kraft has received numerous honors for his work as a businessman and philanthropist, most recently being named the 2019 Genesis Prize Laureate, referred to as the “Jewish Nobel” by Time, for his commitment to combatting anti-Semitism and other prejudices.
Daniel Loeb is the Chief Executive Officer of Third Point LLC and an advocate for criminal justice reform, educational opportunity, and LGBT rights. He founded Third Point LLC, a leading institutional asset management firm headquartered in New York, in 1995. Daniel’s philanthropic interests revolve around promoting social justice, human rights and economic opportunity. He has been instrumental in numerous criminal justice reform efforts, including passing Raise the Age legislation in New York State, which makes 18 the age of adult criminal responsibility, and eliminating the mandatory 10-year waiting period for clemency for non-violent offenders in the State of Louisiana. He supports a number of medical research initiatives, including the Ronald M. Loeb Center for Alzheimer’s Disease at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, named for his father, where Daniel is also a trustee.
Michael Novogratz is the Founder and CEO of Galaxy Digital. He was formerly a Partner and President of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Prior to Fortress, Mr. Novogratz spent 11 years at Goldman Sachs, where he was elected Partner in 1998. Mr. Novogratz served on the New York Federal Reserve’s Investment Advisory Committee on Financial Markets from 2012 – 2015. Mr. Novogratz serves as the Chairman of The Bail Project and has made criminal justice reform a focus of his family’s foundation. He also serves as the Chairman of Hudson River Park Friends, and sits on the boards of NYU Langone Medical Center, the Princeton Varsity Club, Jazz Foundation of America, and Artists for Peace and Justice. Mr. Novogratz received an AB in Economics from Princeton University, and served as a helicopter pilot in the US Army.
Robert F. Smith is the Founder, Chairman & CEO of Vista Equity Partners. Founded in 2000, Vista currently manages equity capital commitments of over $44Bn and oversees a portfolio of over 50 software companies that employ over 60,000 people worldwide. In 2017, Smith was named by Forbes as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. Previously, Smith worked for Goldman Sachs in Tech M&A and Kraft General Foods, where he earned four patents. Last year, Smith signed on to the Giving Pledge, the only African American to do so. He serves as the Chairman of Carnegie Hall, Chairman of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and the founding director and President of the Fund II Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the African American experience, safeguarding human rights, providing music education, preserving the environment while promoting the benefits of the outdoors, and sustaining critical American values. Smith also serves on the Board of Overseers of Columbia Business School, as a Member of the Cornell Engineering College Council, and a Trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco. Smith earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and his MBA with honors from Columbia Business School.
Clara Wu Tsai is a commercial and philanthropic investor with a lifelong interest in improving economic mobility. She is an active supporter of community-oriented research projects, advocacy, and films promoting equality of opportunity and related issues, including criminal justice reform. Clara and her husband Joe are also co-owners of the Brooklyn Nets. Through her other philanthropic endeavors, Clara supports the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute at Stanford University and is on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington. She is also a trustee of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and was an executive producer of Into the Okavango, a documentary that premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Previously, Clara was General Manager of the Hong Kong operations of Taobao, China’s largest online shopping website, and a Vice President at American Express in New York and Hong Kong. Clara holds an A.B. in International Relations and an A.M. in International Policy Studies from Stanford University, and an MBA from Harvard University.