Bill Cobb is now on the board of the Defender Association - Generocity Philly

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Dec. 12, 2016 10:25 am

Bill Cobb is now on the board of the Defender Association

The nonprofit founder brings important perspective as a reentrant and advocate for the rights of returning citizens.

Bill Cobb is a fun guy, but he means business.

(Photo by Tony Abraham)

Trying to catch criminal justice reform advocate Bill Cobb without a smile on his face is a lot like trying to outrun your shadow. As of last week, the REDEEMED founder has one more reason to smile — Cobb now sits on the board of the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

Advocates across the city should be smiling, too. Cobb’s appointment is a big deal. He’s got the kind of criminal justice experience you won’t get with a law degree, having spent nearly seven years in prison and another 14 trying to hold down a job with a criminal record.

That’s not to minimize Cobb’s more traditional experience. He was a 2015 JustLeadershipUSA leader and was the executive director of Urban Angels Foundation, his fledgling advocacy nonprofit helped push for improvements made to Philadelphia’s Fair Hiring Law last spring, and he serves on City Council’s Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform.

Plus, we can’t forget that time he pressed Hillary Clinton on the 1994 crime bill on national television and, not satisfied with her answer, did it again on a different network.

Cobb has worked closely with Defender Association chief Keir Bradford-Grey — both serve on the aforementioned City Council committee where, this past fall, they took the statistician behind the city’s forthcoming MacArthur Foundation-funded and potentially-racist “risk assessment tool” to task (covered in-depth by sister site Technical.ly Philly).

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The boost Cobb’s new appointment will likely have on his nonprofit and its constituents is also worth mentioning. Besides advocacy, REDEEMED’s mission is to mobilize people living with arrest and conviction records and educate them on their rights.

Hopefully Cobb’s appointment will help give more folks a reason to smile, too.

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