Incredible Credible Messengers (ICM) is a non-profit organization developed by credible messengers with lived experience in the justice system to serve returning citizens and their families. ICM’s unique model for reentry is a transformative approach that truly goes beyond reentry and into holistic reintegration. ICM’s model takes a trauma-informed approach that centers healing as the pathway to transformative reintegration.
ICM starts the work a few months prior to one’s release date, with in-person meetings with the incarcerated individual and any family and friends connected with them. ICM plans to support returning citizens for two years post-release. We expect our model to reduce the stress of reentry with vital trauma-informed support, and culturally competent training by credible messengers that will produce a reduction in recidivism and poor health outcomes. We will produce an increase in meaningful employment placement and greater efficacy in other social services needed for reintegration.
ICM was inspired by a course at the Institute for Transformative Mentoring where students who were employed as credible messengers started to dig deeper into their own traumas and think about how to provide more effective, trauma-informed reentry services in their own work. Students felt the services offered elsewhere are ineffective when they are delivered by people that don't have the experience in prison that would help them fully understand the issues facing people when they return to the community. This can be re-traumatizing, sometimes mirroring similar dynamics people face while incarcerated.
Created by Tyisha Jackson, Steve Exantus, Tanyetta Scott, and former business partners planning for ICM began in July 2017. ICM received its official 501(c)3 on December 28, 2017. All of the founders of ICM have lived experiences with the criminal justice system and have been trained in Restorative Justice Practices and Trauma-informed care. They currently work using their expertise to shape the thinking of policy and legislation makers around returning citizens and the necessary support needed for them to sustain healthy fulfilling lifestyles that will increase their value to society. The executive team is comprised of five professional colleagues who understand the relationship between the lack of a personalized network of support and recidivism. Through their education, professional life and lived experience, ICM team members are experts on the personal, social, and economic obstacles that prevent citizens from successfully reintegrating back into society.
The Incredible Messengers
All of our staff have lived experiences with the criminal justice system and have been trained in Restorative Justice Practices and Trauma-informed care. Get to know them!
Tyisha Jackson is currently employed as the Supervisor Parent Coach for Good Shepherd Services Parent Support Program. Tyisha supervises two staff who support parents of court-involved youth. She is the Executive Director for Incredible Credible Messengers creating and directing programs that will end recidivism for ICM’s clients. She served two years in prison and as a returning citizen, she struggled to get employment, housing, education, and parenting support. She is a leader and because of her experience, she plans to lead a team of Credible Messengers that will support, educate, and restore families by providing peer support to returning citizens. Tyisha received a certification from Institute for Transformative Mentoring where she learned best practices in trauma-informed care.
Superpower: “Heal Blaster”
The effect to touch people by the palm of their hands and transfer strength, positive thoughts and immediate comfort. ICM HealBlaster Tyisha has the ability to mirror every individual that she serves and become relatively sophisticated to help each individual face his/her traumatic experience. She also has a special blast of unconditional love that keeps her connected to the people that she serves.
Steve Exantus is a Mental Health Counselor and received his degree from Hofstra University. He worked as an intern with Seafield Services an outpatient substance facility located in Mineola, NY for eight months. In addition, he has worked for the NYC Department of Probation Juvenile Division as a Clinical Advisor for the past three years. His role included providing mental health referrals to outpatient, inpatient, and residential treatment centers for adolescents. Steve collaborated with Probation Officers as a consultant on cases that involved complex behavioral and mental health concerns for clients.
Steve Exantus’ greatest passion is assisting others as they navigate their own personal journey and helping them fulfill their goals. The clients he worked with have multiple DSM diagnoses and his goals with them included promoting an atmosphere of hope, primarily through a CBT framework and Solution Focused Therapy. Currently, Steve works for The Bridge on a Forensic, Assertive, Community, Treatment (FACT) Team, which provides home and community based mental health services for individuals with severe mental health diagnoses. Steve strives to work with people to help eliminate the stigma attached to mental health services. Many people feel that therapy does not work, and do not want to be labeled. However, once a trusting relationship is developed with the right person they can make great strides towards completing their personal goals.