Vanessa Osage, President of The Amends Project
Vanessa Osage has been advocating for the safety and wellbeing of children at Lawrence Academy since 1994. Her actions have included: confronting a grown man/employee when she was just 16, approaching school administration to insist on right action from ages 16-23, giving a speech to the full school in 2001 which ultimately brought about the removal of a predator from campus; her efforts resumed in 2016 when current head of school asked people with information to come forward. In that time, she has chosen an alternate resolution approach, knowing that positive change must come in the wake of her efforts.
When the Restorative Justice process was incomplete, Vanessa Osage decided to raise awareness on a large scale. The feature story of her journey was published in the Lowell Sun on May 27, 2018. In that time, many people have found a way to contact her privately to confirm that, sadly, cover-ups were still happening on campus. In June of 2018, she began work on The Justice CORPS model, which addresses the cover-up issue by creating a system of oversight and accountability – while giving schools the opportunity to demonstrate their excellent care by a high-quality response to incidents. The Justice CORPS is now a 9-page document which incorporates Guidelines laid out by the Independent School Task Force of 2018.
In her life on the west coast, Vanessa Osage has founded and directed a nonprofit for puberty rites of passage called Rooted Emerging, a project of Washington State University Extension, 4-H. She is a trained and certified sexuality educator (Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts), with ten years of experience in comprehensive sexuality education to ages 4 & up. She has been consulting for sexual and emotional health for nearly a decade. Vanessa is also a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) through the Relationship Coaching Institute. All of her various endeavors operate through the social enterprise, Love & Truth Rising, with a mission to positively transform love, sexuality & human connections. www.loveandtruthrising.org
In October 2020, she released the Social Change Memoir, Can’t Stop the Sunrise: Adventures in Healing, Confronting Corruption & the Journey to Institutional Reform. Published by Stone & Feather Press. The book received a 5-Star Review from IndieReader, in politics & current events.
You can reach Vanessa Osage by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Justine Finn, ED.M, The Amends Project Advisor
Justine Finn founded Relation-Shift at the Harvard Innovation Lab in order to end sexual violence, promote healthier relationships and create safer schools. Justine has worked for the past twelve years to advance the equality of women and men, facilitating classes, workshops and seminars across the country on gender, media representation and the prevention of sexual and relationship violence and bullying.
Justine worked in social services and development at the Tahirih Justice Center for five years, a national nonprofit organization that protects immigrant women and girls refusing to become victims of violence, and served as the Washington DC Respect Challenge campaign manager for Futures Without Violence. Previously, Justine worked as a teacher at a women’s college in Nanjing, China and as a communications specialist and reporter in Chicago.
Justine obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Journalism at Loyola University of Chicago and her Ed.M, with a focus on human development and psychology, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Abby Yanow, The Amends Project Advisor
Abby Yanow is a Leadership coach and Organizational Development (OD) consultant. She coaches managers and directors to lead change, to better engage their teams and to improve their management skills. She also helps leaders understand the organizational dynamics that impact people’s performance. Abby is known for her skill in facilitating group process and learner-centered workshops. She has facilitated retreats for senior leadership teams, team development, visioning, strategic planning, cross-organization collaboration and focus groups.
Abby facilitates meetings to improve collaboration and innovation across organizations and among stakeholders. Her meetings are designed to help people work collectively and to share their knowledge, which enhances their ability to problem-solve and to identify solutions. Abby helps people take a systemic approach to problem solving, by understanding the connections and the impact of the individual components on the whole. Abby is skilled at helping people surface their underlying assumptions, in order to generate buy-in and to create sustainable action plans.
Since 2001, Abby has served as President of the Boston Facilitators Roundtable/ OD Network (organizational development), which is a professional community of organizational consultants and coaches who work on leadership, team and organizational development. Under her leadership, the BFR received the 2015 Outstanding Regional OD (Organizational Development) Network Award. Abby has a Master’s degree in Education and Intercultural Communication. She is an ICF certified coach (International Coaching Federation) and is certified in Organizational Development (National Training Labs).
Mike Rinaldi, The Amends Project Advisor
Born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut Michael Rinaldi discovered his passion for teaching while volunteering in 11th grade to support special needs students at Westhill High School. During his 30-year career as an educator in Stamford Public Schools, Mr. Rinaldi taught 5th grade special education, 7th grade social studies, and also English to middle and high school students for a year in Utuado, Puerto Rico.
In 2011, while Assistant Principal at Stamford High School, Mike and his colleagues reported the school’s principal for covering up reports of sexual assault by a teacher against a student. The subsequent response of the Superintendent and Stamford Board of Education compelled Mr. Rinaldi to speak out publicly against what was happening not only in his city but nationwide regarding the practice, popularly referred to as, “passing the trash,” that is, negotiating a confidential separation agreement with an employee involved in sexual misconduct, and providing stellar references to support the person’s future employment in other schools.
Mr. Rinaldi’s actions have been credited in helping to bring these abhorrent practices to light in the state of Connecticut, which ultimately lead to passage of a law in his state prohibiting the practice. In 2017, the Stamford Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint him Principal of Westhill High School where he provides leadership to 2,500 students and 200 certified staff.
Thanks to the MassKids Conference for compiling this biography of Mike Rinaldi.
Check out these articles to learn about the amazing journey and impact of Michael Rinaldi to transform the educational system by protecting kids and families.
Please also visit the Our Partners page, to learn of those doing related work, in connection with The Amends Project.