Rena Karefa-Johnson

Director of Campaigns & Advocacy

Rena photo for website

As Essie’s Director of Campaigns & Advocacy, Rena is building Black feminist campaigns led by our members that free ourselves and our loved ones behind bars.

Prior to joining Essie, Rena worked as the New York criminal justice director for and as a criminal defense and reentry attorney for justice-involved youth at an organization called Youth Represent. As part of that work, Rena spent one day a week on Rikers Island providing legal support to adolescents caged there and co-founded the ‘Back To School Bailout’ in partnership with Bronx Freedom Fund and RFK Human Rights. She holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA in African-American Studies from Yale University.