Volume XII | Spring 2021
IPP works with various organizations,
both domestic and international,
building out coalitions
surrounding criminal justice reform.
Hour Children becomes the Fiscal Sponsor of Interfaith Prison Partnership
For many years, IPP Director Dr. Hans Hallundbaek and Hour Children's founder and recently retired Executive Director, Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, CSJ, have worked closely together on prison issues. Sister Tesa joined the Advisory Council of the Interfaith Prison Partnership a few years ago.

Now the relationship has taken on a "formal" arrangement. Effective July 1, 2021, Hour Children became the fiscal sponsor of Interfaith Prison Partnership. As such, they will be the drivers of procuring grants to sustain the work of IPP. IPP now falls under Hour Children's 501(c)3 status, allowing donors to contribute to IPP through Hour Children and take that contribution as a tax deduction.

As Sister Tesa said, in describing this new partnership, "“ Relationships are at the heart of human growth and enable us to dream and act together in the spirit of God’s inclusive love for the common good. This captures the new relationship between Hour Children and IPP. Possibilities are limitless!”

IPP Director, Hans Hallundbaek, added, "This new relationship is a God-send. It will strengthen the Interfaith Prison Partnership (IPP) financially, and at the same time, enable a relatively small organization such as IPP to benefit from the strength and experience of a more mature organization like Hour Children. 
This new relationship will also give voice to the need for a more robust and much-needed engagement of the country’s faith organizations in social and criminal justice issues. Hiding in prayer behind stained glass windows no longer cuts it. With the current attacks on American democracy, it is imperative that faith organizations engage actively in our scripture-mandated acts of loving our neighbors, especially those on the lower rungs of the societal structure. With close to 2000 state and federal prisons in our country, there is a ripe mission field in the neighborhood of most of the country’s faith organizations."

We thank the Hudson River Presbytery, of which IPP has been one of the Partnership programs for over ten years. It was then General Presbyter, Susan Andrews, who realized that our Presbytery had more people in the prisons located within the Presbytery than there were people in the pews of its churches. She knew that we must reach out to our neighbors in prison. HRP funded us through their Legacy Grant, without which we would not have existed. We will still work closely with the Presbytery, the Presbyterian Churches, and all houses of worship of all faiths.

Sister Tesa Fitzgerald, CSJ, has just retired from Hour Children to become the President of The Leadership Team of the Sisters of St. Joseph Brentwood, NY. The transfer of Congregational Leadership will take place in Sacred Heart Chapel on August 7, 2021, - 11:00 AM 12:30 PM. Sister Tesa's last day as Executive Director of Hour Children was June 30th, but she will remain affiliated with this organization, of which she is the founder. Sister Tesa will also remain on the IPP Advisory Council. Madeline Holmes will take over as Interim Executive Director until a permanent replacement is found.

We are extremely grateful that in one of her last acts at Hour Children, she has worked tirelessly to ensure that the work of IPP continues, for as she has often said, it is work that MUST continue.

Photo credit above of Sister Tesa: Hour Children
We Have New Email Addresses!
Dr. Hans Hallundbaek's professional email address is now:

Sharon Griest Ballen's email address is now:
IPP Awarded Grant from the
Synod of the Northeast
On May 5, 2021, IPP received a letter from Rev. Dr. SanDawna Gaulman Ashley,
Transitional Synod Leader, which informed us that at the April 30 – May 1, 2021 Mission & Ministries Commission meeting, the Mission Working Group recommended - and the Commission approved - an Innovation grant for the Adopt-a-Prison project of the Interfaith Prison Partnership of the Hudson River Presbytery.

This grant was awarded to support and expand the one-of-its-kind Adopt-A-Prison successful model project, as it is our belief that we all have a moral and spiritual obligation to those who are imprisoned.

By healing others, we heal ourselves. The Town of Bedford has truly adopted its two local prisons and in so doing, those on both sides of the wall have experienced healing. Every town can and should adopt its local prison.
Pictured here are some of the thousands of boxes of soap sent by donors (these were sent by Michal Design Works) to the Church House porch of Katonah Presbyterian Church to allow for contactless and safe delivery during COVID. Volunteers pick up the soap, store it at their homes until there is enough for each woman at the prison, and then deliver it for distribution to the women who are in prison.
Photo Credit: Sharon Griest Ballen
Some of the over 12,000 masks sewn by volunteers for the women in prison and their children (pictured left) when visitation re-opened.
Photo Credit: Anne Lloyd

Pictured lower left: A donor wrote messages of support and inspiration on the bars of soap which s/he donated for the women in prison. Trust Yourself! Be Brave! Never Give Up!
Photo Credit: Sharon Griest Ballen
Presbyterians Today article on IPP's
Adopt-A-Prison Program

Photo Credit: Getty Images as seen in
Presbyterians Today May/June 2021 edition

If a highway can be adopted, why can’t a prison? This question occurred to Dr. Hans Hallundbaek a few years ago after he noticed an “Adopt-A-Highway” sign.

The more he thought about it, the more sense “Adopt-A-Prison” made; after all,

people adopt children, animals and parks — and the list goes on.

“A highway belongs to the state, and they have a tough time keeping it clean; so if the community wants to make the community nice, they help clean up the highway. It’s a community reaching out in its own self-interest,” Hallundbaek said.

“It’s exactly the same with a prison to say, ‘We’ll come and support you.’ Then it’s not a church thing. It’s a community thing, and ‘community’ is a church thing anyway.”
(as excerpted from Ms. Warren's article)

The program has, indeed, built community AND hope on both sides of the prison wall.
NYS and Federal Legislators Support
US Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, pictured left, at one of his Town Halls with Sharon Griest Ballen, IPP Program Coordinator and Chair of the Prison Relations Advisory Committee (PRAC). Congressman Maloney, a Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the US House of Representatives, will be attending the PRAC meeting on July 20. He will update the PRAC committee on his efforts to obtain funding for a sidewalk from the Bedford Hills Trains Station to the two NYS women's prisons in Bedford Hills. Congressman Maloney's intent is to increase safety for both visitors and staff who walk from the station to the correctional facilities. Currently, there is no sidewalk, no shoulder along the road, and a deep ravine along the edge of the road. We are deeply appreciative of the Congressman's work and his efforts for the families of those in prison as well as those who work in prison. He has been a stalwart supporter of this committee's work and a strong advocate for those who need his voice. Photo Credit: MaryAnn Carr

NYS Assemblymember Chris Burdick of District 93
Photo provided from Chris Burdick website
Because of the success of IPP's Adopt-A-Prison project, the Prison Relations Advisory Council (PRAC) to the Town of Bedford was formed at the suggestion of then Town Supervisor, Chris Burdick. IPP Program Coordinator, Sharon Griest Ballen, was asked by Mr. Burdick to Chair this first-ever committee in any municipality in the country to advise a Town of prison issues.

Chris Burdick is now a NYS Assembly member, and sits on the Correction Committee of the NYS Assembly. Assembly member Burdick was good enough to attend our March PRAC meeting to give us a comprehensive review off all legislation in front of the Assembly on prison issues.

At the request of Sharon Griest Ballen, Mr. Burdick invited Assembly member David Weprin, the Chair of the NYS Assembly's Correction Committee, to join our meeting to explain current and pending legislation. His explanation of the legislative bills was invaluable.
David Weprin, NYS Assemblymember (District 24) and Chair of the NYS Assembly's Correction Committee
Photo provided from David Weprin website
Mark Mishler, Legislative Director and Counsel to NYS Senator Julia Salazar, Chair of the NYS Senate
Correction Committee
Photo obtained from google images
Senator Julia Salazar, left, (representing the 18th District) is Chair of the NYS Senate Correction Committee. Due to the pending Budget presentation the following day, Senator Salazar was not able to join us, but sent Mr. Mark Mishler, (pictured above) her Legislative Director and Counsel, in her stead. Senator Salazar will be joining us on Tuesday, July 20 at our PRAC meeting.

Mr. Mishler, of the Law Office of Mark Mishler, PC, explained the Senator's views of prisons, her goals, her vision, and where she would like to take the Correction Committee.

All three of these people involved in legislative issues and policy making answered all questions from the members of the PRAC committee, with thorough explanations and additional information when needed.
We also want to acknowledge NYS Senator, Shelley Mayer, right, who has been a steadfast and strong supporter of our work, and look forward to her joining us again at one of our meetings as her schedule permits.

We are deeply grateful to our state legislators for taking time, especially during the final phase of Budget meetings, to work with PRAC by their presence and their support.
IPP Forms a Transitional Housing Committee
Pictured: Pamela Zimba
In its work with the women in the two NYS State prisons in our community, the Town of Bedford, IPP has found that there is no transitional housing in the entire County of Westchester for women who come out of prison.

We are going to work on changing that. IPP Advisory Council members, Pamela Zimba of the Ford Foundation and Janet
Pictured: Janet Donat
Donat of Family Services of Westchester, have volunteered to Co-Chair this effort.

Working with them on this committee will be fellow IPP Advisory Council members Dr. Abdus-Salaam Musa, Rev. Siobhan Sargent, IPP Program Coordinator, Sharon Griest Ballen, and from Hour Children, Pat Daly and Deb Rigano.

Look for updates!
Mark Davies completes his internship with IPP...and joins the IPP Advisory Council
Mark Davies is a retired lawyer, having last served as Executive Director of New York City’s ethics board for 22 years.   Currently he is studying for a Master of Divinity degree at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and has served during 2020-2021 as an intern at IPP.  Prior to government service, Mark was a full-time law professor and a private practitioner, specializing in municipal law and litigation. From 1990-2019, he was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham Law School, where he taught New York Practice.  A graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School, he is the former Chair of the Municipal Law Section of the New York State Bar Association and continues to serve as co-chair of the
Photo provided by Mark Davies
Section’s Government Ethics and
Professional Responsibility Committee.   He has written and lectured extensively on practice and government ethics, both nationally and internationally, including several times at the United Nations.
IPP Welcomes Three Additional New Advisory Council Members
Pamela Zimba

Pamela Zimba graduated from Bard College through the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) in 2017 with an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts. Shortly after her release in 2018, Pamela was accepted for a fellowship position at the Ford Foundation in partnership with BPI.

She was hired directly by the Ford Foundation in 2020 and is presently employed full-time as a Program Assistant within the Gender, Racial, Ethnic Justice department. Her current areas of focus are Reproductive Justice and Mass Incarceration.

Pamela's personal experience inspires her to advocate for criminal justice reform and to be a voice for all formerly and currently incarcerated women.
Abdus-Salaam Musa

Chaplain/Imam Abdus-Salaam Musa, DMin. received his doctorate from Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF), his Master’s Degree from GTF, and is a Visiting Professor of American Muslim Studies at GTF. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Metropolitan College of New York City and a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from Harford Seminary. He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, grew up in the village of Harlem, New York, and is a United States Air Force Veteran. Dr. Musa also is a Diplomate with the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP), A Board Certified Clinical Chaplain and Board Certified Pastoral Counselor.
Dr. Musa is the President and co-founder of the South East Queens Muslim Collective, and President of the Islamic Indigenous Compassionate Care, Inc. He is the former director of the United Muslim Movement Against Homelessness (UMMAH), a former program of ICNA Relief, and is the co-founder of the first Muslim women’s shelter in Queens, that was known as the Muslim Women’s Help Network and now known as ICNA Relief Transitional Housing. 
Photo provided by Pamela Zimba
Pamela's future plans include more direct advocacy and policy change. as well as addressing the lack of transitional housing available to individuals returning home. She is Co-Chairing, with Janet Donat, the IPP Advisory Council committee on establishing Transitional Housing in Westchester.
Photo provided by Dr. Abdus-Salaam Musa
Dr. Musa has been a passionate activist in the secular and Islamic community for over 45 years, addressing the social ills that affected communities. He has worked with interfaith communities for the last twenty-five years.
Dr. Musa has trained individuals from all faiths in the art of Clinical Pastoral Education for the  past eleven years. He has worked closely with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, New York, Park Christian Church in New York City and the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in the village of Harlem. He is currently serving on the IPP Advisory Council Committee on Transitional Housing.
Siobhan Sargent Faustino

Rev. Siobhan Sargent Faustino is currently appointed to the position of Senior Pastor at Memorial United Methodist Church and has been serving the community for over 4 years. Rev. Sargent's gifts rest in developing leaders within the church community. She is committed to a fully inclusive church where all ages, races, sexual orientations, gender expressions and economic circumstances are lifted up and affirmed not only as children of God but also as vital members of the Body of Christ. With a heart for social justice and a passion for the Gospel, Rev. Sargent believes that the "Good News" is found in building authentic relationships and sharing Jesus'

Photo provided by Siobhan Sargent Faustino

with the least, the lost and the marginalized. She hopes through her ministry she may be an agent of God's liberating grace in the world today. Rev. Sargent Faustino is currently serving on the IPP Advisory Council Committee on Transitional Housing.
Join Us!
There are many ways to support this work....
Photo Credit: Alan Pogue, taken at IPP's Annual
UN Conference on the intersection of poverty and prison. Left: Sharon Griest Ballen; Right: Dr. Hans Hallundbaek

If you want to partner with us, support IPP, or learn more about our work - or about Adopt-A-Prison specifically - please contact:

You Can Provide a Release Bag for Women Going from Prison to a Homeless Shelter, You Can Provide a Bar of Soap, the List is Long...
IPP Director, Hans Hallundbaek
Program Coordinator, Sharon Griest Ballen

To donate,
Click here for our new Donate Button! On the donate page, under Select a Campaign, scroll down to IPP.

Thank you!!