Two Los Angeles residents who play key roles in

programs aimed at helping federal and state inmates as they make the transition

out of prison were honored today at the White House.

Sabra Williams, an actress and founder/director of The Actors’ Gang

Prison Project, and Roby So, a Re-Entry Program Manager at the Executive

Clemency Institute, are among 10 people who were recognized as “White House

Champions of Change for Expanding Fair Chance Opportunities.”

According to the White House, they were chosen “for their leadership

and tireless work to remove barriers to a second chance for those with a

criminal record.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Senior

Adviser to the President Valerie Jarrett were among those attending the

ceremony.

“No matter who we are, or where life takes us, we all deserve new

opportunities to succeed,” Garcetti said.

The ceremony was held in connection with National Reentry Week, which

seeks to highlight “the many ways that the Department of Justice and the

entire Obama administration is working to tear down the barriers that stand

between returning citizens and a meaningful second chance, leading to brighter

futures, stronger communities and a more just and equal nation for all,’”Lynch

said.

Williams’ Prison Project conducts eight-week theater workshops inside

the California prison system. According to the White House, it is one of the

only remaining arts programs inside the state prison system, and it fosters

tolerance and nonviolent expression, and helps reduce recidivism rates.

So’s work at the Clemency Initiative, which is part of Stanford Law

School’s Justice Advocacy Project, supports federal and state inmates returning

home after long sentences. A former inmate himself, So was featured in New York

Times Magazine article on efforts to reintegrate former prisoners.

San Diego resident Samantha Galarneau, executive vice president of

California Marketing Group, which trains and relies on federal inmates in the

Federal Prison Industries Inc. work program to perform telemarketing functions

on behalf of its customers, was also among the honorees