We are dreamers and doers who understand that advancing a world without prisons where youth can flourish takes partnership, strategy, creativity, and diligence. 

Founded and led by people of color.

Relationship-driven and constantly looking to learn and evolve.

Invested in supporting and amplifying efforts that dismantle the status quo and promote justice, equity, and community.

Our Mission

Catalyze Justice works with partners looking to replace the punitive youth prison model, rebalance the distribution of power and resources between systems and communities, and establish and strengthen community-led supports. Our team brings a wide range of skill sets and experience to this work, including expertise in law, social work, direct practice, government, research, technical assistance, philanthropy, and advocacy.
Yumari Martinez

Yumari L. Martinez
Founding Executive Director

Prior to starting CJ, he co-Directed the Justice Lab’s Youth Justice Initiatives team, consulted with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and was the Associate Commissioner for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services – Division for Youth and Family Justice, where he helped implement the Close to Home Initiative. Earlier in his career, he served as Associate Director of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Youth Justice, a Senior Project Director at the Center for Community Problem Solving at NYU School of Law, and was a defense attorney for the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Division.

Vidhya Ananthakrishnan

Vidhya Ananthakrishnan
Co-Founder and Managing Director

Vidhya Ananthakrishnan is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Catalyze Justice. In this role, she oversees CJ’s partnerships with different organizations across the field, guides CJ’s narrative change and communications work, and helps lead development and finance, and operations. Prior to starting CJ, she directed the Columbia Justice Lab’s youth justice portfolio for 5 ½ years and supported the establishment of Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice (YCLJ). Earlier in her career, she led youth justice reform efforts at the Vera Institute of Justice, conducted program evaluations at the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), and worked as a youth advocate and organizer in NYC.

Gladys Carrión
Founding Advisor
Co-Chair, Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice

Most recently, she served as a Senior Fellow at the Justice Lab. Prior to that, she led the NYS Office of Children and Family Services and the NYC Administration for Children Services. In these roles, she successfully closed 21 state-run facilities and helped oversee the implementation of Close to Home in New York City.

Patrick McCarthy
Founding Advisor
Steering Committee Member, Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice

Most recently he served a Senior Fellow and Research Scholar at the Justice Lab. His earlier roles include: president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, director of Delaware’s youth rehabilitation division, faculty member at graduate schools at Bryn Mawr College and the University of Southern California, founder and director of an alternative school for youth with behavioral problems and a family therapist.

Mahsa Jafarian
Associate Director

Before joining CJ, she was at the Vera Institute of Justice, leading national, state, and local strategies to end the incarceration of girls and gender expansive young people. Earlier in her career, she worked on broader youth justice initiatives at the Vera Institute and decarcerating adult jails while at the New Orleans Mayor’s Office. She came to systems change work after years of serving young people in schools and facilities.

Vincent Lau
Senior Manager, Advising and Learning

Most recently, he was a Senior Manager at the Columbia Justice Lab. Previously, Vincent worked at the Vera Institute and the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Division of Youth and Family Justice where he identified areas of reform in policy and practice for youth detention, Close to Home placement, and contracted community-based alternatives. He also co-led a division-wide equity workgroup to identify racial/ethnic disparities and develop equity goals, metrics, and action plans while there. Vincent graduated from the Howard University School of Social Work.

Alexander Schneider
Senior Manager, Operations and Communications

Most recently, he was a Senior Manager at the Columbia Justice Lab. Prior to that Alex worked for multiple direct service nonprofits in New York City, volunteered as a teacher at the women’s jail on Riker’s Island, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. He has a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management from The New School, and a BA from the University of Toronto.

Our Partners

Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice

YCLJ is  a coalition of current and former leaders of youth justice agencies, which is convened and supported by Catalyze Justice. YCLJ believes that separating youth from their families and communities, and emphasizing punishment and retribution, harms young people and their communities. They aim to facilitate community-centered justice, in which archaic, distant youth prisons are closed and communities have the resources to address the needs of youth, while helping to ensure accountability, personal responsibility, and validate victims of crime. They imagine a world where all youth have access to the support and guidance they need to become thriving, productive adults, within their own homes and communities.

Join Us

Catalyze Justice is a small, nimble team dedicated to the work of helping advance a fair, just, and equitable future for youth, families, and communities.

Full-Time Opportunities

No full time opportunities available at this time.

Consulting Opportunities

We’re always looking for consultants to help us on different projects.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to: [email protected]