We a group of dedicated restorative justice practitioners offering a vision for just, equitable and effective work environments and communities. Bringing a wealth of experience in practicing, teaching, managing, and consulting in the arenas of restorative practice and creating whole and healthy communities, we invite you to explore our services and resources for your benefit and the benefit of those you serve.
Roderick "Rudy" Bankston
Restorative Justice Practitioner
Roderick “Rudy” Bankston is a committed educator, activist and published author. He holds a deep belief in the power of words including his written works and those of his personal story. His experience as a survivor of the school-to-prison pipeline offers key insights into the paradox of resiliency fueled by systemic injustice.
Wrongly convicted and handed a life sentence in his youth, Rudy entered the prison system deeply wounded and in the clutches of a severe identity crisis. During his imprisonment he devoted himself to Black-centered learning that’s traditionally ignored in public education. After two long decades he reclaimed his freedom with a sense of self and determination over his future.
Rudy advocates for all young people, especially the most marginalized. He models the importance of high standards and a growth mindset to inspire them to expect greatness of themselves. He is grounded and optimistic in the pursuit of social justice, using a restorative justice framework that provides each person with a voice, sense of belonging, and the opportunity to meaningfully contribute.
Rudy envisions a future that honors the lessons of our past, acknowledges its impact on our present, and removes the shackles that currently bind institutions and individuals to a status quo rooted in white supremacy.
Restorative Justice Practitioner
Mara is a Social Worker, Restorative Justice practitioner, and co-founder of Small Fire, LLC. Mara's work often focuses on whole-agency and whole-school transformation to pursue social justice through shifting from endorsing 'dominant,' white supremacist culture toward a culture of justice and equity. Mara's work values the importance of process, actions taken to facilitate progress toward cultural transformation, in progressing toward and fully realizing product, a ‘Restorative Justice’ community.
Mara began her work pursuing racial and social justice at Bridge Lake Point Waunona (BLW) Neighborhood Center in Madison, Wisconsin where she coordinated programming and services in support of children, youth, and families. After six years Mara sought to deepen her knowledge of systems change through studying for her Masters in Social Work with a focus on schools.
Throughout her career as a School Social Worker with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), Mara targeted key shifts to disrupt status quo power hierarchies and dismantle white supremacy at structural and individual levels. She provided leadership during initial implementation of district policy to shift from punitive code of conduct to a restorative and progressive approach to student behavior. Mara’s work with Small Fire reflects a conscious decision to pursue racial and social justice through targeting change from outside institutions.
Mara is deeply grateful to her Small Fire co-founders and collaborative partners for providing avenues for meaningful work and innovation, and for sharing an authentic commitment to justice and equity. She enjoys the gift of spending more time with her three year old son, Levon, and family in her hometown of Fort Atkinson. Outside work, she plays rec league volleyball and softball, discusses social justice nonfiction within book club, and enjoys ‘crafting,’ discovering ‘new’ music and catching live shows, and writing poetry.
Mara has formal training and practical experience using adaptive and restorative processes to:
◦ Increase efficiency and productivity of teams,
◦ Develop and maintain ways of working congruent with shared values,
◦ Cultivate restorative and growth-oriented mindsets,
◦ Explore a particular issue to develop shared understanding and make decisions using sufficient consensus,
◦ Resolve situations involving significant conflict or critical incidents.
Sara is deeply committed to promoting equity and wellness. She offers years of experience as a mindfulness practitioner and teacher, school health leader, academic nursing faculty, and program innovator in the arenas of employee well-being and school-based mental health services. Trained in restorative processes with Erin Dunlevy, she is a member of the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Restorative Practices Team and has cultivated inquiry and knowledge regarding the integration of mindfulness and restorative practices. She brings perspective and skills in supporting healthy cross-functional and multi-agency work demonstrated through coordinating partnerships with the UW-Madison Center for Healthy Minds and the UW Health Mindfulness Program in leading the creation of the Mindfulness in MMSD program. She is looking forward to partnering with communities and organizations to honor the existing internal skills, knowledge and experiences, and create spaces for the cultivation and deepening of personal and institutional understanding, connection, and action in the realms of mindful awareness, overall well-being, and justice.
Lonna comes into the restorative justice work naturally through her cultural upbringing and faith tradition within the Mennonite community, which values collectivism, social justice, and peace-building. A long history as a Circle-keeper contributes to her calm confidence that when individuals join in Circle, the process and its participants offer everything needed to move forward in healthy ways. Lonna has had the privilege of training with Kay Pranis and Sujatha Baliga, and continues to learn from leaders in the field including colleagues, friends, and youth in the Madison community. Throughout her journey to understand and experience the power of restorative justice, she has practiced within a community-based mediation center, victim offender reconciliation program, within K-12 public education at Madison’s La Follette High School, to her current role coordinating restorative justice efforts for the Madison Metropolitan School District.