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About Our Team

Founder & CEO

I am Sterling Braden, Founder and CEO of Friend A Felon. I am a father, software engineer, entrepreneur, and convicted felon. I came up with Friend A Felon in 2017 with selfish intentions to find ways to get my case expunged, but helping people get through tough times quickly became one of my passions.

For the past 11 years, I have been my own "End User" of Friend A Felon. I built this platform because necessity is the mother of all inventions. As a convicted felon, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to find employment and housing after serving time in jail. The system is not designed to help us get back on our feet, and that's where Friend A Felon comes in.

I grew up on the East side of Cleveland, Ohio, and joined a gang at the age of 14 to fit in. I was convicted of a second-degree felony at the age of 18, 10 seconds changed my life forever. I made it to college, but due to my attitude and politics, it didn't work out. I turned to selling drugs and robbing drug dealers, feeling like a felon and thinking I had to act like one.

 

As the Founder and CEO of Friend A Felon, my ultimate goal is to break down the barriers that prevent individuals with criminal records from living fulfilling lives. I want to help others avoid the mistakes I made and provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. It's not an easy journey, but it's one that I am committed to for the rest of my life.

 

I am not a role model, influencer, or reentry expert. I'm just a guy who has gone through the system and wants to make a difference.

Sterling Braden

Chief Executive Officer

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Welcome to Friend A Felon, a community dedicated to supporting justice-involved individuals as they navigate their reentry into society. My name is Jen Vasquez, and I am a passionate Criminal Justice graduate with 6 years of experience in non-profit operations, functionality, and communications.

 

From a young age, I've been driven by the desire to create a more just and equitable society, especially for individuals who have a criminal record. Through my studies, I've gained a deep understanding of the injustices that many justice-involved individuals face, and I'm committed to working toward a world where everyone is given a fair chance to succeed.

 

That's why I'm thrilled to be a part of Friend A Felon. Our mission is to remove the stigma surrounding justice-involved individuals and provide them with the opportunities they need to rebuild their lives. By offering support and resources to this population, we not only help them and their families, but we also strengthen our society as a whole. It's important to remember that more than 650,000 ex-offenders are released from prison every year and will arrive on the doorsteps of our nation's communities.

 

At Friend A Felon, we believe that everyone deserves a second chance, and we're here to help justice-involved individuals find their way back to a fulfilling life. Join us in our fight to create a more just and equitable world for all.

Jen Vasquez

Chief Financial Officer

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My name is Aliyah Wright, and I'm thrilled to be the new Chief Technical Officer of Friend A Felon. I was born and raised in Ohio and have a deep love for sports. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Industry and a Master's degree in Sports Coaching from THE Ohio State University.

 

I coached high school basketball until the pandemic began, leading to a canceled season. With all the new free time, I chose to challenge myself to learn how to build mobile applications. Friend A Felon provided me the opportunity to hone in on these skills while also making a true difference in the lives of a marginalized group of individuals. Everyone deserves the chance to succeed and we all have a responsibility to help others in our communities reach their full potential. 

 

As a software engineer, I'm responsible for leading the build of Friend A Felon 2.0, and I'm incredibly proud of the work we're doing. I'm passionate about bringing change to a multitude of problems we face in this world, especially for minorities. We must join together to create the change we want to see. 

 

I'm excited for the future of Friend A Felon. Together, we can change the world, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this journey.

Aliyah Wright

Chief Technology Officer

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