Janel McFeat named Executive Director of Washington Statewide Re-entry Council

OLYMPIA, WA — Human rights champion Janel McFeat will lead Washington’s Statewide Re-entry Council beginning Jan. 3. McFeat, who started her social work career in Tacoma and currently serves as strategic planner/program manager for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s re-entry program, created a nationally-recognized re-entry program using evidence-based practices and a people-first human dignity model. She is a White House Champion for Change nominee and recipient of the Linda Gabriel Human Rights Award among numerous other honors for her leading work with formerly incarcerated young people, adults and their families.

Photograph of Janel McFeat Executive Director of the Statewide Re-entry Council

Janel McFeat

“I believe that the value and importance of the human connection is one of the most powerful tools we have to make communities safer and reduce recidivism. As the executive director of the Statewide Re-entry Council, my focus is to see restorative and humane practices implemented in our prison and jail systems throughout Washington state,” McFeat said.

“Janel’s human-centered focus and lifelong passion for service, coupled with her impressive record as an innovative leader will serve the Re-entry Council well. I’m delighted to welcome her and excited to see the impact of her guidance on this important work,” said Washington State Commerce Director Lisa Brown

As a Jamestown S’Klallam descendant, McFeat credits her great grandmother for her most important lessons learned – the importance of relationships and the art of listening. These led her to become a Restorative Circle Practitioner.

Most recently, as the strategic planner/program manager for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s reentry program, McFeat built relationships and exposed the unfair treatment and disproportional incarceration rate for Native Americans. She developed and the Welcome Home program, a nationally-recognized model that serves native and non-native incarcerated individuals. Her team’s work reduced recidivism by over 80% with their target population, earning the Welcome Home program the Champions of Justice Award for its humane work with those coming out of jail.

“I believe when one starts to recognize the trauma in others, real change begins,” said McFeat, a Certified Trauma Informed Trainer. ”In this new role, I will work to see the criminal justice systems in Washington become educated in intergenerational and historical trauma to really move into a more humane system.”

McFeat started her social work career in Tacoma where she worked with youth coming out of Echo Glen Children’s Center and releasing to a group home in the heart of the Hilltop neighborhood. She moved into working with domestic violence victims at the Crystal Judson Center (Our Sisters House), later returned to her hometown of Poulsbo and followed her calling to her native roots to work for the Tribe and help those who were behind bars. McFeat received her B.A. in Social Work from Pacific Lutheran University and has 23 years’ experience working with justice-impacted individuals. She consults nationally with groups on best practices for how to implement re-entry human dignity models into their justice systems.

The Washington Legislature created the Statewide Reentry Council in 2016 to improve public safety and outcomes for individuals re-entering the community. Gov. Jay Inslee appointed 15 members from the community. The executive director is elected by council members and confirmed by the Washington State Senate. To learn more about the council’s activities and services, visit its webpage at Washington Statewide Reentry Council.

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