From penitentiary to White House, new executive director uniquely qualified to lead policy efforts to address addiction, help former inmates successfully rejoin workforce
Christopher Poulos will serve as executive director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council, appointed by Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender and the council following a nationwide search.
“Chris Poulos, whose compelling personal journey includes taking himself from homelessness, addiction, and prison to law school and serving in the White House and on Capitol Hill, is uniquely qualified to lead our efforts to develop this state’s ‘hidden workforce,’ encouraging successful transitions from incarceration to workplace. We are delighted to have Chris on board,” Bonlender said.
Poulos, once a homeless teenager and now a licensed attorney, served nearly three years in a federal prison for a drug-related conviction. His inspiring story was chronicled by the Washington Post, NBC News and others. He presented a TED Talk in 2015. Poulos also was interviewed by TVW’s Austin Jenkins on Inside Olympia.
Prior to taking the helm at Washington’s Reentry Council this month, Poulos served as executive director of Life of Purpose Treatment at the University of North Texas, where he was also an adjunct professor of criminal justice. During law school, he served in the Obama White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and The Sentencing Project. Poulos has advised United States Senator Angus King (I-Maine) on addiction and justice policy and served on several task forces related to criminal justice policy. He graduated cum laude from the University of Maine School of Law, where he was president of the American Constitution Society and represented children facing criminal charges as a student attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic.
“I am incredibly honored and privileged to serve as Executive Director of the Washington Statewide Reentry Council,” Poulos said. “The fact that the Council and Department of Commerce selected a person who has both professional and personal reentry experience speaks volumes on the state’s commitment to developing smart and innovative policies regarding community reentry following criminal justice system involvement. I plan to work closely with the Council, state government, and the public to seize this opportunity to promote public safety by helping provide pathways to success for people reentering society.”
Learn more about the goals and policy work of the new Washington Statewide Reentry Council here.