Mini Conference Series: Part 1

Moving Forward:

Viewing Justice through a Restorative Lens

Part I Mini Conference Series | November 3rd, 2022


10:30AM – 11:45AM Alissa Ackerman

11:45AM – 12:45PM Break | Lunch

12:45PM – 2:00PM Toni McMurphy

2:00PM – 2:15PM Break

2:15PM – 3:30PM L. Tomay Varlack-Butler

3:30PM – 3:45PM Break

3:45PM – 5:00PM Sia Henry

Registration closes October 24th, 2021.

Conference Fee — $50

“A society that measures justice only in the length of a prison term is limited in its capacity to effect and reduce harm. Let’s move the conversation toward understanding the needs of survivors in their healing journey, and fashion our responses accordingly.”

— Dr. Jill Levenson

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Dr. Alissa Ackerman

Alissa Ackerman headshot

10:30AM - 11:45AM

Dr. Alissa Ackerman is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at California State University, Fullerton. As a survivor scholar, she integrates her experience as a rape survivor with her expertise as a sex crimes researcher. Alissa has dedicated her career to studying sex crimes policy and practice, the etiology of sexual offending, the effects of sexual victimization, and restorative justice options for those impacted by sexual harm. As a restorative justice practitioner, she has worked with over 500 people who have perpetrated sexual harms. Alissa writes extensively on topics related to sexual violence, having published over 35 peer-reviewed journal articles. Her most recent book, Healing from Sexual Violence: The Case for Vicarious Restorative Justice, co-authored with Dr. Jill Levenson, was published in 2019. Alissa has given over fifty national and international talks on her work, including a TEDx Talk. She co-hosts the popular podcast, Beyond Fear: The Sex Crimes Podcast.

Session Description

Healing from intimate harm requires connection to others, often through difficult conversations. Vicarious restorative justice offers these opportunities for those who have sexually harmed others to fully own and accept responsibility for their acts while coming to an understanding of the impact of their actions on the lives of those they have harmed. Vicarious restorative justice is that brings people who have been sexually harmed together with those who have perpetrated such harms, though they do not know one another. In this presentation, Alissa will begin by discussing why everyone must have a seat at the table. She will then talk about how restorative justice must be culturally responsive. This requires a discussion about the historical roots of restorative justice and how Western society has co-opted historical and indigenous wisdom. Using stories from her restorative practice, Alissa will explain how she came to co-create a vicarious restorative justice model for cases of sexual harm, the use of the process in clinical settings, and its implementation in the broader community. She will then focus on guidelines and questions one should be asking prior to creating a vicarious restorative justice process for clients who have sexually harmed. Finally, she will talk about the benefits and draw backs for people who have been sexually harmed so they can consider whether this is a process in which they’d be interested in participating

Toni McMurphy

Toni McMurphy headshot

12:45PM - 2:00PM

Toni McMurphy is the Founder of Infinite Impact, a consulting firm dedicated to transforming communities, conflicts, and culture through restorative practices. As a consultant, coach, trainer, facilitator, and speaker, Toni has spent the last 25 years training and coaching nearly 65,000 people in over 230 organizations across diverse sectors including health care, higher education, and industry.

Toni specializes in the design of customized restorative processes and facilitating win-win outcomes in emotionally charged situations. She is an expert in creating safe and brave spaces that foster authentic dialogue around harm and accountability and unpack the distinction between intent and impact. Toni is known for inspiring people to bring out the best in themselves and each other in challenging situations and regularly facilitates courageous conversation in a wide variety of settings on myriad topics.  Recent projects include facilitating restorative responses to sexual misconduct cases, responding to bias incidents on campus and in communities where racial tensions are high, and facilitating difficult conversations between students and administration, faculty and administration, management and employees, and police officers and inmates. Toni served as Vice President of Culture and Campus Life for St. Louis College of Pharmacy for six years, where she successfully integrated restorative practice in Student Conduct, Title IX cases, Bias Incident Response, and for numerous conflicts on campus.

Session description: RJ is Transformative: How We Respond Matters

RJ represents a philosophy, a set of practices, a movement, and a way of Being that can transform communities, conflicts, and culture. In this interactive experiential session, we will explore RJ as a way of Being. What is possible when we place the well-being of a community at the center? How might we treat one another? How can we build communities that are worth restoring?  How might we respond to harm? How might we prevent harm from happening in the first place? How can we more consistently lead with our best self in ways that inspire others to do the same?

In a world fraught with cancel culture, we can learn to call each other in vs. call each other out. This session will showcase concrete examples of how organizations are implementing restorative practices to promote well-being, reduce and repair harm, and fulfill their mission.


Sia Henry headshot

3:45PM – 5:00PM

Sia is dedicated to creating a racially and socioeconomically just society, one that affirms and celebrates the inherent value of every individual rather than profiting from the systemic criminalization of low-income, communities of color. Sia first joined Impact Justice in fall 2014 as a program associate with the Restorative Justice Project, collaborating with communities to establish pre-charge restorative justice diversion programs that, without relying on incarceration, center the needs of those affected by crime and support those responsible in taking accountability. She later left for two years to work as a legal fellow at the Prison Law Office. There she engaged in impact litigation and monitored prisons and jails to improve conditions of confinement, specifically focusing on protections for people with physical and developmental disabilities, mental health issues, and serious medical conditions. Sia rejoined Impact Justice in spring 2018 as a senior program associate with the organization’s National Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resource Center, training PREA auditors and working to improve audit quality to ensure sexual safety in confinement spaces. In 2020, Sia transitioned back to Impact Justice’s Restorative Justice Project, this time leading efforts to dismantle the criminal legal system by supporting communities throughout the East Coast and the South in establishing pre-charge, restorative justice diversion programs. She also spends a portion of her time working on Impact Justice’s Building Justice initiative. Sia graduated from Harvard Law School and Duke University and serves on the Board of Directors for Mt. Tamalpais College at San Quentin State Prison (the country’s first, tuition free and independently accredited college situated inside a prison).

Session Description:

The Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice dreams of a world where no one calls the police and, instead, community members lean on each other’s innate wisdom to resolve conflicts and heal from harm. Restorative justice lies at the heart of that dream. This session will explore the founding principles of restorative justice and one approach to pre-charge restorative justice diversion a growing number of communities in major cities across the country are using to address serious harm.

L. Tomay Varlack-Butler

Tomay headshot

2:15PM - 3:30PM

L. Tomay Varlack-Butler is a PhD student in Education for Social Justice at the University of San Diego, a resident practitioner, and a graduate assistant in the Center for Restorative Justice. She is a Social Worker, a Substance Abuse Counselor, a Restorative Justice Educator, former Adjunct faculty, a consultant, and a Coach. Tomay is the co-founder of WORTHshop Inc and the founder of Tamar’s Healing Circle and Coaching program. Her work centers on healing and justice through education. Tomay is a facilitator with Restorative Justice Education, (RJ Ed), and is a Restorative Roots Collaborative member facilitating Participatory Action Research. As an International Speaker, she led roundtable discussions with NGOs addressing violence against women in Haiti, presented her work, and facilitated restorative circles with adolescents impacted by HIV in Romania. Her work includes Higher Ed, K-12, community, and religious organizations. Tomay integrates her mediation, mindfulness, and trauma training into her work and provides conflict coaching, family conferencing, anti-racism work, racial healing circles, and healing circles for persons who experienced trauma. Her commitment to HEAL Humanity Now! and transforming lives deepen her practice and restorative lifestyle. Tomay’s guiding principles are rooted in her faith- love, liberation, truth, justice, healing, and the mom of two college graduates.

Session Description

Responding Restoratively: Meeting at the Intersection of Harm, to right wrongs.

  • Participants will understand the impact of harm and its shift to Restorative Justice in praxis to responding to harm.
  • Participants will explore the impact of harm based on one’s positionality (ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status).

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