Mission & Vision

Mission: Inspiring women with a history of incarceration or those at risk of being incarcerated to design a thriving life journey using newly learned tools and strategies for success.

Vision: A society where all women have the opportunities to live fulfilling lives.

We believe that by giving women the strategies and tools to lead productive lives, they can make better choices because they will have more choices. Every year, thousands of women return to incarceration because they don’t have a way to address the root causes that sent them there in the first place: trauma and low self-esteem that lead to substance abuse, and/or lack of education that prevents them from earning a living wage. The reasons are complicated.

WIND Origins
In 2018, we created WIND after meeting men and women who were trying to make new lives for themselves following interaction with the criminal justice system. In 2019, we kicked off our curriculum at a recovery home in Chicago, and in January 2020, WIND received its 501(C)3 nonprofit status.  When COVID struck, WIND pivoted to a virtual format for its sessions, altering the entirety of its curriculum to meet the needs of our participants in a Zoom format.

WIND focuses on women because there are far fewer resources devoted to them, even as female incarceration has skyrocketed relative to that of men.  

Women have a unique power to impact their children. When you invest in women’s health and empowerment, your investment has a ripple effect, helping families, communities, and countries achieve long-lasting benefits.

Almost 80% of the women jailed each year are mothers.* We’re inflicting profound damage not only on them, but their children as well.

– Wendy Sawyer, Research Director, Prison Policy Initiative

* Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States, 2016

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Women are far more likely than men to have primary responsibility for their children.  Once released, they need to create stability and find a place to live to regain custody. Yet re-entry literature suggests a large gap between the services individuals need to facilitate a successful return into their community and the services they actually receive.

Since women lack the opportunities and programs generally available to men, they often end up back in prison for the same violation. They lack the basic skills needed to change the trajectory of their lives. This is especially true for drug offenders, who need substance abuse rehabilitation instead of warehousing in prison. Without new options for their release, they return to their old lives. WIND is here to help change that path.


Lisa R. D’Angelo
Lisa R. D’Angelo is a co-founder and board chair of WIND. After a corporate career in finance and marketing, Lisa found her calling in the nonprofit arena where she advises local organizations in fundraising and marketing. 
She has BS and MBA degrees in Finance from Fordham and New York University respectively. Lisa’s passion for social justice, with a focus on helping women and families build stronger futures, led her to create WIND with her talented group of co-founders and the WIND board.

Visit Lisa on LinkedIn.

Tracy Lawson McKeithen
Tracy Lawson McKeithen is a co-founder and vice chair of the board. Tracy leads a family homeless shelter agency that serves families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Tracy has a Master’s degree in psychology and is a Community Psychology doctoral student doing research on homeless families and the barriers faced by homeless mothers released from incarceration. Tracy has a passion for working with at-risk vulnerable populations and has a heart of service for mothers.

Visit Tracy on LinkedIn.

Kelly Costello
Kelly Costello is a co-founder of WIND. She helps with programming and leads the volunteer program, collaborating with others to bring the best possible experiences to the women who receive our services. Kelly has over 25 years of experience in teaching and consulting in design and innovation, and has shifted her focus to mission-driven organizations and not-for-profits. She splits her time between running her own design consultancy, Panorama Innovation, and teaching at Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University and at the Institute of Design at IIT in Chicago.

Visit Kelly on LinkedIn.

Stephen E. Sudhoff
Stephen E. Sudhoff is president of Jefferson Cook Associates, Ltd., a risk management consulting firm for banks and brokerage firms. Steve’s thirty years of experience in the Chicago financial community includes extensive market and credit risk management leadership in large international banking and brokerage firms. He was a co-founder of Family Promise Chicago North Shore and has served in leadership positions in other Chicagoland nonprofits. Steve has an MBA from the University of Chicago and his CFA Charter was awarded in 2002.

Penny Hirsch
Penny Hirsch, a long-time faculty member and associate director of the Cook Family Writing Program at Northwestern University, designed and taught courses in expository writing, engineering design communication, and project management.  Her first-year seminars, like her volunteer work, focused on inequities in the criminal justice system and ways to help formerly incarcerated women return to their communities. Hirsch did her undergraduate study at Wellesley College and the University of Michigan, received her PhD from Northwestern University, and was a founding member of Communication Partners, a Chicago-area communication consulting firm. Hirsch lives in Evanston and is delighted to be a board member of WIND

Visit Penny at the Cook Family Writing Program.

Margaret Knell
Margaret Knell serves as WIND’s secretary and focuses on governance. She has over 25 years of experience in not-for-profit and association management, with a focus in governance and legal operations. Margaret has served on several not-for-profit boards in officer roles and spearheading governance efforts to establish governance best practices and ensure legal compliance. She holds a Bachelor’s in Communications and Business from John Carroll University; an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management; and an MS, Information Technology and Privacy Law, with Honors from The John Marshall Law School, Chicago. Margaret believes strongly in mentoring other women and giving back to her community and feels fortunate to be able to do so by participation on the WIND Board.

Visit Margaret on LinkedIn.

Mia Wright MD
Dr. Mia Wright completed her undergraduate studies at Harvard University, received her medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed her residency at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Wright is part of the WESTMED Medical Group, where she also served on its operating board of directors. Dr. Wright is committed to empowering women around health issues, especially those with a history of incarceration.

Sally A. Nuamah

Sally A. Nuamah is a professor (tenure-track) at Northwestern University. Previously, she worked at Duke University and held competitive research fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and Princeton University. Her research sits at the intersections of race, gender, public schools and political behavior. Sally’s first book, How Girls Achieve (2019) was recently selected for the 2020 Prose Award in Education Practice and Social Science by the American Publishers Association. It also received the Critics’ Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association. Sally’s newest research is focused on the punishment of Black women and girls and its political consequences. In addition to research, Sally is a staunch advocate for girls. She is the founder of Herstory: the TWII Foundation Girls Scholarship and has an award winning film titled, HerStory, based on this work. Sally was recently named one of Forbes Magazine “30 Under 30” in education and awarded the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, aka “the Brainy Award.”

Barbara Shwom

Barbara is Professor of Instruction in Writing at Northwestern University’s Cook Family Writing Program and is also the Managing Principal of Communication Partners, a  communication consulting firm headquartered in Evanston that she runs with her husband, Karl Keller. She is also the proud parent of an adult son who has recently returned to Chicago to join the family business.

Complementing her professional work, Barbara is committed to improving educational access, opportunities, and support to people who have been underserved. Currently, she is coordinating tutoring support for incarcerated students in the Northwestern Prison Education Project; and she is on the Board of Directors of Youth and Opportunity United, a youth development organization in Evanston.  Barbara is delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to WIND’s mission to support and inspire women with a history of incarceration, providing them with education, tools, and strategies for success.

WIND’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commitment

A Just Society Owes All Women the Opportunity for a Fulfilling Life

Women Initiating New Directions (WIND), a not-for-profit supporting incarcerated women or those in reentry, believes that a just society must give all constituents the opportunity to have their voices heard and to live fulfilling, independent lives. Our goal is to take principled action – within our organization and with our clients and workshop participants – to help develop a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Our mission supports any woman whose interactions with the criminal justice system have placed formidable barriers in her/their way.  We believe that all who identify as women, regardless of current or previous incarceration, deserve a chance to heal, thrive, and contribute to society; we see this social justice work as an urgent responsibility to ourselves and future generations. 

Read WIND’s complete DEI statement, including the Roadmap outlining our mission, values, and DEI aspirations. 


Learn more about the state of incarceration in the U.S.

Help create a new path for women who are committed to making a better, more stable life for themselves and their children.

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