We believe —

  • Every person has a right to a life of dignity and the right to full participation in society
  • Those closest to a problem are closest to the solution
  • Collaboration with stakeholders leads to innovation

With shared values and beliefs, Susan Mason and Roz Solomon founded What’s Next Washington in 2017.

Susan Mason

Susan Mason is co-founder and executive director of What’s Next – Washington. She spent 15 years in the mortgage industry before becoming an advocate and organizer for systemic policy change and the reinstatement of full civil rights for people with conviction histories. Susan is a National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls 2019 Reimagining Communities Fellow and a Just Leadership USA 2018 Leading with Conviction Fellow. She was incarcerated in federal prison for 15 months and was released in 2003.

Co-Founder & Executive Director

MerriLynn Leslie

MerriLynn Leslie is the Director of Projects for What’s Next Washington. MerriLynn’s background is in event management, addiction treatment services, and supportive reentry services for the formerly incarcerated learning to code. She is a member of the Washington State Fair Chance Housing Coalition. MerriLynn was released from prison in 2001.

Director of Projects

Shelley Drake

Shelley Drake is the Director of Operations and Development for What’s Next Washington. Shelley’s background is in real estate, accounting, and operations. She spent 25 years as a bartender and event planner.  Shelley is a member of the Washington State Voting Rights Restoration Coalition and has a previous conviction history. She loves the outdoors and is an avid motorcyclist.

Director of Operations and Development

Roz Solomon

Roz is co-founder and current board president. Roz practiced corporate law until becoming an administrative law judge hearing employment and labor cases, as well as teaching law as an adjunct at Seattle University. She co-founded the Washington Business Alliance with Howard Behar and David Guiliani in 2010 and served as their executive director for three years. Roz is committed to the idea that all people deserve the dignity of inclusion and full human rights.

Co-Founder & Board President

Tiheba Bain

Tiheba Bain is founder and executive director of Women Against Mass Incarceration, a grassroots organization empowering justice involved women and girls. She is the former National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls Coalitions Director.
Tiheba sits on the African American Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity & Opportunity in Connecticut. Tiheba holds degrees in Psychology and Women and Criminal Justice and is an alumni of the Justice-in-Education Scholar program at the Heyman Center for Humanities at Columbia University. She was released from federal prison in 2011.

Board Member

Mari Ferrer

Mari joined the board in April 2018 and currently serves as the board treasurer. She has over 25 years of finance, consulting and enterprise program leadership for JP Morgan Chase Investment Bank and The Royal Bank of Scotland. She has also led efforts to support First Tee in Connecticut, The Center for Domestic Violence and Susan G. Komen Foundation. Mari’s family immigrated from the Philippines to avoid gang violence and political unrest.

Board Member

David Heppard

David is the Executive Director of Freedom Project and oversees their racial equity, social justice circles, finance, and development teams. He builds collaborations with other organizations, coordinates marketing, and develops reentry programming. David was released after 24 years because of the 5064 Bill, a law that allowed those convicted as juveniles to petition for early release after 20 years.

Board Member

Will Jimerson

Willard Jimerson Jr. is a prominent youth advocate, crime interventionist, and a race relation strategist working throughout Seattle and South King County. As a Program Manager at the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, he oversees the national model of Credible Messengers called GROOM which stands for Gifted Regardless Of Oppressive Methods. Will was tried as an adult at 13 and served 20 years in prison.

Board Member

Zak Kinneman

Zak Kinneman is a founding board member of WNW. He is a business owner, an entrepreneur, and a former attorney. He is open about his incarceration and works hard to bring his voice and experience into advocating for the end of mass incarceration. Zak served four years in Washington state prisons and was released in 2007.

Board Member

Jacqueline Smith

Jacqueline is senior Digital Strategist at Gates Ventures in Kirkland, WA. She graduated from the University of Florida and earned her MSc in Global Media and Communication from the London School of Economics. Jacqueline worked at Nike’s global HQ in Beaverton and as a digital brand lead in their Western European headquarters before returning to Portland in 2016 to join the Asia Pacific / Latin America team.

Board Member