Woman's National Democratic Club

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Restoration of Voting Rights for Returning Citizens

July 19, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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Restoration of Voting Rights for Returning Citizens

Virtual Panel Discussion via Zoom

Tuesday, July 19th at 6:00pm

Over 5 million Americans― nearly 1 in 44 adults― were barred from voting in the 2020 election due to a current or former felony conviction. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that only two states (Maine and Vermont) and the District of Columbia do not disenfranchise individuals who have been convicted of a felony. Further, disenfranchisement disproportionally affects Black individuals at a rate of 3.7 times higher on average, but each state is different. In the south, there are some states where its estimated that one in seven Black citizens cannot vote [1].

Our panel on Restoration of Voting Rights for Returning Citizens dives into this important topic with an esteemed panel of experts:

Desmond Meade, Executive Director of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

Kemba Smith Pradia, Advocate for criminal justice reform and Board Member for Virginia CARES, Drug Policy Alliance

Brandon Rivers, Piedmont-Charlotte Metropolitan Regional Director, You Can Vote

The panel is moderated by Kate Fellman, Founder & Executive Director of You Can Vote

Conducted via Zoom from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, our panel discussion will explore the challenges faced by those advocating for voter restoration, the ramifications of disenfranchisement laws, and offer ways that you can help further this cause.

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More About Our Moderator & Panelists 

Desmond Meade (Panelist)

Desmond Meade is a formerly homeless returning citizen who overcame many obstacles to eventually become the Executive Director of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and lead a successful campaign to re-enfranchise 1.4 million returning citizens in Florida. His efforts led to him being named one of TIME Magazine 100 most influential people in the world, and a McArthur “Genius” Fellow.


Kemba Smith Pradia (Panelist)

Kemba Smith Pradia went from college student to drug dealer’s girlfriend to domestic violence victim to federal prisoner; and in 1994 she was sentenced to 24. 5 years in federal prison. Kemba’s case drew support from across the nation, which prompted then President Clinton to commute her sentence in December 2000, after having served 6. 5 years in prison. Today, Kemba is a wife, mother, public speaker, advocate, consultant and author of Poster Child. She has worked with senior officials at The White House, the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Members of Congress, and has led trainings for Federal and State Probation organizations across the country. Currently, she continues to serve on the Board of Directors for Virginia CARES, Drug Policy Alliance. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the NAACP and Co-convener of the Justice Roundtable.

Along with being an advocate for criminal justice reform, Kemba is the founder of her 501 (c) 3, The Kemba Smith Foundation. Ultimately, Kemba knows that there is a lesson in each experience in life, and she has embraced her experience, learned from it, and is now using that experience to teach others.


Brandon Rivers (Panelist)

Brandon Rivers was born and raised in inner city Charlotte, NC and attended North Carolina Central University, a HBCU in Durham NC, with a major in Political Science. While attending college, Brandon volunteered and assisted in civic and community work but didn’t see it as a full time opportunity. After college, Brandon started working for a Marketing firm while still being active in his community as much as possible, and after moving back to Charlotte, he found You Can Vote, a non-partisan organization that empowers, educates and registers voters throughout North Carolina.

As a Regional Director, Brandon assists voters in detention centers, local high schools, colleges and universities as well as works in communities at festivals, sporting events, and more.


Kate Fellman (Moderator)

Kate has over 20 years of experience in community organizing and electoral politics. After protections in the Voting Rights Act were cut by the Supreme Court in 2013, Kate organized volunteers to develop a program to provide communities with localized, fact-based voting information. You Can Vote (YCV) launched in 2014 as a permanent educational campaign to mobilize voters and build community leadership. YCV communications are designed to support and encourage voting among new and infrequent voters.  Using best practices in voter engagement, community organizing, and a highly successful youth leadership development model, YCV has consistently outperformed the state in overall turnout. But the most dramatic difference in turnout is among young voters, with 72% of YCV’s age 18-25 registrants turning out in 2020, compared with 60% for NC overall.


[1] Source: https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/15/us/felony-convictions-voting-sentencing-project-study/index


July 19, 2022
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Woman’s National Democratic Club
1526 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
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