The Visiting Room Project Symposium presenter bios
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Calvin Duncan, hailed by New York magazine as one of the nation’s “most renowned jailhouse lawyers,” is a tireless advocate for people in prison who have no access to legal counsel. Falsely accused of murder at the young age of 19, Calvin endured a life sentence without the possibility of parole until he was finally released after serving 28 ½ years in Louisiana prisons in 2011 with the assistance of the Innocence Project New Orleans, which he co-founded from inside prison in 2001. Calvin is co-creator of The Visiting Room Project. In 2023, Calvin achieved his lifelong dream of completing law school, obtaining a JD degree from Lewis and Clark Law School in Oregon.
Originally from Opelousas, Louisiana, Ron Hicks is a proud father, grandfather, and pastor. At the age of 19, Ron Hicks received a life without parole sentence. While in prison he became a sign language interpreter, braille transcriber, and leader in Angola’s faith community. After serving 33 years, he received his second chance through a commutation in March of this year. Ron holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Christian Ministry and Pastoral Ministry respectively, and is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from the New Orleans Baptists Theological Seminary. He is also an Ambassador to The Visiting Room Project, bringing TVRP to audiences across the country, while working as a reentry specialist at the Louisiana Parole Project.
Marcus Kondkar joined the Sociology Department at Loyola University New Orleans in 2000, after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and now serves as Chair. His teaching and research interests include criminology, sociology of law, and sociological theory. He is co-creator of The Visiting Room Project, a digital story-telling project on life without parole sentences, and is currently conducting research on a number of grant-funded projects related to the project: gendered pathways to prison, sentencing patterns, and reentry best practices. Marcus also serves as the Academic Director of the Loyola Prison Education Program, a new initiative offering bachelor’s degrees to incarcerated folks and corrections staff in Louisiana.
Annie Nisenson is the Executive Director for The Visiting Room Project. Annie joined The Visiting Room Project in 2018 as lead organizer of the archive and one of the project producers. Now, as more than 30 contributors to the project have come home, she is working with these Ambassadors and the project team to build out the next phase of this public memory project. Annie is also a documentary filmmaker who works across documentary modes to make creative and impactful nonfiction. Her work has screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and Sheffield DocFest. Annie has a Masters in Documentary Arts from the University of Cape Town and BA in History from the University of California, Berkeley.
Everett grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, and received a life without parole sentence at the age of eighteen. At age twenty, he was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary – Angola, where he would remain for the next 27 years. While at Angola, Everett studied the law diligently. Through his expert litigation, he was able to secure freedom for many of his peers. He is currently employed by the Orleans Parish Defender’s Office as a Re-Sentencing Client Advocate and is also a proud Ambassador for The Visiting Room Project. In addition, he works part time both as a Community Navigator for the Rise After Release Program (RAR) and as a Post-Conviction consultant with Tulane’s Women’s Prison Project.
Daryl Waters is the newly hired Program Associate for The Visiting Room Project (TVRP). Daryl also contributed his story to TVRP and is an Ambassador for the project, sharing his lived experience with public audiences nationally. Daryl came home last year after more than 29 years in Angola. As someone who has always been passionate about education, he worked as an Education Supervisor, supervising a team of tutors helping other incarcerated brothers get their high school diplomas. He also pioneered a re-entry program and managed the largest club at Angola. In addition to these duties and many more, Daryl served as an Associate Pastor of Angola’s largest congregation, where he regularly counseled, taught and preached. Even on the outside, Daryl continues ministering as an Associate Pastor at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Gibson, Louisiana and mentoring youth in his community.