Jody Lewen is the founder and executive director of the Prison University Project, which implements the College Program at San Quentin.
Ms. Lewen’s involvement with the College Program dates back to 1999, when she started working as a volunteer. Over the years, Ms. Lewen has served as a thought leader in the field of prison education, advocating for the values of high academic quality and inclusivity, as well as serving as a resource to policymakers, practitioners, academics, and the administrations at San Quentin State Prison and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. She was the 2006 recipient of the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from the University of California, Berkeley, and a 2015 recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award in recognition of her work with the Prison University Project to support higher education for incarcerated people in California. In 2016, the Prison University Project received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.
Ms. Lewen received her Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University in modern European history; her Master’s degree from the Freie Universität, Berlin in comparative literature and philosophy; and her Ph.D. in rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. Her publications include “Punishing Evil: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Spectre of Inmates in the Public Imagination” (in Evil, Truth, and Reconciliation, Rodopi, 2004) and “’So eine Gemeinheit’: On the Use of Irony in Hugo Bettauer’s Die Stadt Ohne Juden” (in Austria and Austrians: Images in World Literature. Stauffenburg Verlag, 2003).