Meet the Board

Who We Are, Why We Joined VPP


Jordan Baines is a junior from Memphis, TN, double majoring in Law. History, and Society and Political Science.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ – Edmund Burke. Growing up in Tennessee has shed light on the injustices that continue to plague society. We like to pretend that we have become better. Truly, we have become more secretive, but what happens in the darkness will eventually come to the light.”

Vice President

Ava Pacciana is a sophomore from Durham, NC, double majoring in Political Science and Human and Organizational Development.

“The US has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet almost 25% of the world’s prison population. This was the statistic that pulled me in because there is no way to justify it; it makes no sense. Our nation has utilized the criminal justice system to perpetuate inequality and deny opportunity to so many individuals, and I cannot just watch this happen. I need to be a part of the change…. really, we all to be a part of the change. If we are to be the nation we say we are, a nation of freedom and equality and opportunity for all, then we need a criminal justice system that aligns with these values. This is a huge challenge, but it is a necessary one. I joined Vanderbilt Prison Project to play a part in moving this system and our nation closer to what it should be rather than what it is.”

Secretary & Treasurer

Amaya Allen is a sophomore from New York, NY, majoring in Law, History, and Society.

“VPP helped me connect to the Nashville community in a way that I was not able to during my first year and a half at Vanderbilt. It is very easy to get stuck inside of the Vanderbilt bubble, but VPP taught me how to use my privilege as a Vanderbilt student to help the Nashville community.”

Public Relations

Lauren Zaylskie is a sophomore from Troy, OH, double majoring in Neuroscience and Spanish with a minor in Child Development. 

“I joined VPP because the current criminal justice system in the United States has deviated far from its intended purpose of serving and executing justice and instead perpetuates a cycle of inequity. The focus has shifted from actual rehabilitation and the human aspects of individuals. I want to effect change to get back on the right track and help the 2.3 million people’s lives dismantled by mass incarceration.”

Lyndsey Delouya is a sophomore from Melville, NY, majoring in Public Policy. 

“The statistic that 1 in 3 black men go to jail in their lifetime has really stuck with me. This statistic speaks to the idea that mass incarceration has not touched all communities equally. Mandatory minimum sentences, unconscious racial biases, and socioeconomic inequality contribute to racial disparities at every step of the criminal justice system. I am passionate about Vanderbilt Prison Project’s mission for progress in criminal justice because I want to work to mitigate the racial inequities throughout the institution.”

Community Engagement

Jin Heo is a junior from Lafayette, CA, majoring in Public Policy Studies.

“I first joined VPP as a transfer student looking for ways to get involved on campus and it might have been the best decision I’ve made since coming here. I love the opportunity VPP has given me to meet new people and hear their stories. I think our motto, ‘Meeting people where they are, not where they’ve been’, serves as a reminder that we are working with real people directly impacted by the system and it emphasizes the humanity at stake in this very dehumanizing issue.”

Ember Tharpe is a junior from Jackson, TN, double majoring in African American Studies and American Studies.

“I joined VPP because through my studies in AADS, the biggest thing I’ve learned over the course of three years has been how, from the very beginning, slavery’s abolishment was really just a transition into using the prison system for free profit over the backs of black & now brown bodies. This system has been able to uphold itself for 150 years because of how, just like in slavery, black people are dehumanized and pathologized to the point of fear and disgust, so that we largely feel comfortable ignoring the conditions, dangers, and psychological effect of imprisonment. I wanted to have a hand in snapping the student body out of this type of manipulation, and to mobilize people to act against existing, insidious forms of white supremacy.”

Community Service

Kavi Palmer is a sophomore from Blue Bell, PA, majoring in Computer Science. 

“The people I have met who have been impacted by the criminal justice system have made me believe in the need to push for change.”

Community Partners and Special Projects

Tess Ostroff is a sophomore from Summit, NJ, majoring in Political Science. 

“I got involved with VPP because I feel criminal justice issues are one of the most important problems in the US today. Our criminal justice system is not a rehabilitating system. It perpetuates the cycles of poverty. By isolating formerly incarcerated people from housing, employment and other aspects of life they are more likely to commit crimes again. The criminal justice system disproportionately affects minority backgrounds. For example, African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites. The imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of white women. These statistics inspire me to work to create a more just system.”

Member Enrichment

Sydney Aronberg is a sophomore from Delray Beach, FL, double majoring in Political Science and Spanish. 

“I joined VPP to fight for the people the justice system affects. The American incarerated population consists of about 2.3 million individuals. Upon release, these people face barriers due to the crime-generating atmosphere of prisons and a lack of effective and humane corrections. I hope for an American justice system that calls individuals by their names instead of a number and treats them like the humans they are. I feel the duty to act toward rectifying these injustices in any way I can. Something must change if we are to create a justice system that upholds human dignity. I believe those with the passion, determination, and ability to act should be unafraid to do so.”

Faculty Advisor

Professor Craig Philip is a faculty member in Civil & Environmental Engineering, who joined Vanderbilt in 2015 after a career with the Ingram Companies in Nashville.

“I have a passion for social justice issues and have become sensitized to the many problematic areas in our criminal justice system through a four year relationship I have been fortunate to develop with an individual on Tennessee’s Death Row.”

Previous Board Members