Formerly incarcerated women continue to raise the bar in advocacy work. Elizabeth “Leesa” Nomura is the new membership organizer for the California Coalition for Women Prisoners.
Nomura is formerly incarcerated and a strong advocate for justice-involved women and system-impacted families. She created “Freedom Looks Good on Us,” a Facebook page supporting more than 1,700 justice-involved people. The page offers participants an open space for communication, according to the Fire Inside, the coalition’s newsletter.
“When I was in prison, I thought [the Coalition] was an organization that supports mostly women over 40 serving life sentences,” Nomura said to Fire Inside. “Since my parole in January 2020, I learned just how much it does in support of our whole community on both sides of the prison walls.”
The coalition’s advocacy includes a DROP LWOP campaign, Writing Warriors (a letter writing program) and support of legislation like the Vision Act to stop California’s ICE prison transfers.
“CCWP is a place of empowerment,” said Nomura, “and with a spirit of resilience we move toward our goal of dismantling the [prison industrial complex], ending mass incarceration and the patriarchal system behind it all.”
The coalition fights systemic barriers with its Participatory Defense support and Fire on the Outside Reentry Community program.
“Incarceration does not negate your ability to advocate and neither does age, ethnicity, gender, economic status, or background,” said Nomura. “CCWP is me, CCWP is you, CCWP is us.”
Nomura brings skill and energy to her new position. She is a board member of the Orange County Community Action Partnerships alliance, an organization that fosters partnerships for people with reentry needs. She is a Project Rebound scholar studying Human Services at Cal State Fullerton. She co-chaired a planning committee for the coalition’s First Annual Freedom Fest in October 2021. The event celebrated the accomplishments of the coalition’s women beyond incarceration.
“CCWP does more than just print a quarterly newsletter and help lifers with [Board of Parole Hearings] support. Is it any wonder that I would want to join the CCWP team?” said Nomura. “I am honored to serve the justice-involved and system-impacted community as Membership Organizer and I am extending an invitation to you all, inside and outside the prison walls.”
The coalition is thrilled to have Nomura on staff, the newsletter said.