founder, executive director
Norris Henderson is the Founder and Executive Director of both VOTE and our sister organization, Voters Organized to Educate. He believes that "those who are closest to the problem are closest to the solution." A former Soros Justice Fellow, he has had tremendous success in his work impacting public policy and discourse about police accountability, public defense for poor and working-class people, and reforming the notorious Orleans Parish Prison (OPP). As someone who was wrongfully incarcerated for 27 years, Norris has firsthand experiences of the racism and brutality of the criminal justice system. He uses these experiences to address the needs of communities of color across Louisiana and beyond. Norris can be found speaking on behalf of underserved communities in New Orleans or acting as a general liaison to other community organizations in the city, state and nation. Since his release in 2003, Norris has applied his 27 years of self-taught legal expertise and community organizing skills to a number of leadership positions, including Co-Director of Safe Streets/Strong Communities and Community Outreach Coordinator of the Louisiana Justice Coalition. Norris serves on a number of organizations’ Board of Directors including Family & Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, and acts as Board President of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights.
Norris' concept that 'civic engagement is the highest form of rehabilitation' is something we can all believe in. VOTE puts the formerly incarcerated person right where they need to be: out in the community, participating in productive activities, educating, advocating and standing up for their rights.
—Deborah Larussi, www.sillsfamilyfoundation.org