ABOUT THE FILM
Virtually Free is short documentary about unlikely allies in Richmond, VA who partner to transform the juvenile justice system and stop mass incarceration. In the film, we meet Sid, Taee, and AR, three teens currently being held in a Richmond, VA detention center who are offered the chance to become activists speaking truth to power. Participating in a local arts organizations’ program, Performing Statistics, they are taught by different artists to deliver their powerful, authentic messages to the public, law enforcement, and government officials using their art, including a virtual reality jail cell they’ve helped create.
André Robert Lee – Director
André has taken a unique path from teaching in the NYC public school system, to graduate school, and then the Ford Foundation before finding his way to the entertainment business. André wrote, directed and produced the feature documentary The Prep School Negro (2012) which has had hundreds of screenings and workshops at high schools, colleges, universities, gatherings and conferences. He also produced the documentary feature I’m Not Racist…Am I? (2014). In the past, André served for two years on the Miramax Films Academy-driven Marketing team, was Director of Marketing for Urbanworld, and produced short films at Film Movement. André’s work as a freelance producer has included a music video for The Churchills, numerous segments for German television, and directing an episode of “The Election Effect” digital series with Shine Global for Paramount Network.
Alfred Durham – Former Chief of Police in Richmond, Virginia
Alfred possesses over three decades of service in law enforcement. After serving four years of active duty with the United States Marine Corps, he began his law enforcement career with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC in 1987. Before becoming Chief of Police in Richmond, VA in 2015, he served as assistant chief of police in Washington, DC and spearheaded the planning and execution of the 55th Presidential Inauguration in January 2005 among other roles in law enforcement. Alfred retired from the Richmond Police Department in December 2018 and currently serves in a role as director of investigative and security services for the National Football League.
Gina Lyles – Engagement Director at Performing Statistics
Gina Lyles is the Engagement Director of Performing Statistics. Co-Directing the project with Mark Strandquist, Creative Director, and Trey Hartt, Project Director. She supports the human-to-human connections that ground Performing Statistics in authentic relationships with youth, credible messenger mentors, and partners. Gina leverages her own life experiences as a self-described, “school-to-prison pipeline survivor” in and out of the foster care and juvenile justice systems since the age of eight, to navigate and empower youth caught in the school-to-prison pipeline. She began her journey with Performing Statistics at ART 180 as a program assistant for a hip hop class using her skills as an emcee and rapper to support kids at the middle school level. She soon was leading her own hip hop music and writing programs. When Performing Statistics was founded in 2014, Gina was the first program leader assisting in the implementation of the earliest creative programs and was promoted to Program Coordinator in 2015 after the project received its first major grant. After just a year, Gina became Program Manager and helped grow the project with a particular emphasis on the youth development and credible messenger mentoring aspects. Gina left ART 180 in 2019 to launch her own business, So Focused Consulting, LLC, before becoming the Performing Statistics Engagement Director.
Lynette N Tannis – Moderator
Dr. Lynette N. Tannis is an adjunct lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) where she teaches the newly designed course Educating Incarcerated Youth: Practice, Research, and Policy. She also conducts research for HGSE’s Juvenile Justice Education Research Initiative. Her work as an adjunct lecturer, researcher, and independent education consultant focuses on ensuring all students – free or incarcerated – receive a high-quality education. Dr. Tannis is the author of Educating Incarcerated Youth: Exploring the Impact of Relationships, Expectations, Resources and Accountability (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and is recognized as a juvenile justice education expert. Her work is featured in the Harvard Educational Review (2017), the National Association for Public Defense (2016), educationpost (2015), Education Week (2014), and the Harvard Ed. Magazine (2015, 2014, 2013). Dr. Tannis holds both a Doctor of Education degree (2013) and a Master’s of Education Policy and Management degree (2010) from Harvard University, a Master’s degree With Distinction in Educational Administration from Kean University (2003), and a Bachelor’s degree Cum Laude in Elementary Education from Greensboro College (1995).