Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights names new director

June 17, 2019

Pawtucket native Mavis Nimoh is the new executive director of The Center for Prison Health and Human Rights at The Miriam Hospital.

The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at The Miriam Hospital has established itself nationally as being on the forefront of a myriad of social justice issues and it now is under the leadership of a Pawtucket native with extensive experience in public health and the criminal justice system.

Mavis Nimoh, a graduate of Shea High School and the University of Rhode Island, recently became the first African-American woman to serve as the center’s executive director. She returned to her hometown after many years out of state working in top-level positions for government agencies and non-profits.

“After a nationwide search process, Mavis was by far our top choice and we are delighted to have her join the center. Throughout her career, Mavis has been a change agent and led transformative initiatives that shifted culture and practice in behavioral health and criminal justice to better serve families and communities,” said Josiah Rich, M.D., the center’s co-founder and director.

The center was established in 2005 to act as a hub for the innovative correctional health research and programming occurring at The Miriam Hospital and other research hospitals in Rhode Island and around the country. The center’s mission is to advance health equity and human rights for individuals and populations impacted by the criminal justice system. The center’s work involves raising awareness at the national and state levels about the health and re-entry challenges of incarcerated and other justice-involved populations; utilizing a public health model to shift policy and practice to improve outcomes; informing and facilitating innovative approaches at the program, community, and system levels;  providing education and training opportunities for college, graduate, and medical students; and supporting  student engagement and leadership in criminal justice issues.

The organization is involved with the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), funded with a five-year, $11 million grant to Rhode Island Hospital from the National Institutes of Health. The center is also focused on statewide criminal justice planning with community and state agency stakeholders and partners -- with the Lifespan Community Health Institute, the Rhode Island Hospital Center for Primary Care, and the R.I. Department of Corrections -- on the Transitions Clinic, which supports justice-involved populations with chronic illnesses. Additionally, the center spearheads a criminal justice policy collaborative with local and national leaders. 

“I am thrilled to join the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights as its executive director and work alongside partners and experts sourcing and implementing systems-level change and solutions at the intersection of health equity and criminal justice and its correlating impacts on individuals, families, and communities throughout Rhode Island and the nation. Equally as important for me was to return home and serve the communities that raised me and set me on the path for success. Representation matters, and I am proud to work for an organization that values and champions diversity, equity, and opportunity.” Nimoh said.

Nimoh served as state director of victim services for MADD Pennsylvania and executive director of a county agency focused on access to quality care for uninsured and under-insured individuals with substance use disorders. Her work also included spearheading the first ever diversionary program within the county’s booking center as well as overseeing treatment and recovery services for the county’s drug court and school-based treatment initiatives. She was also appointed secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons under the direction of the state’s lieutenant governor. In this capacity, she helped to dramatically change the clemency process and lead criminal justice reform policy efforts.

In Rhode Island, Nimoh led expanded learning initiatives as a member of the Special Legislative Commission on Out of School Time Learning and managed the Rhode Island Afterschool Network. She is on the board of directors for the Providence Afterschool Alliance (PASA), Rhode Island School for Progressive Education (RISPE), and mentors emerging leaders with the New Leaders Council of RI.

Nimoh graduated from URI with a bachelor’s degree in political science and received a master’s degree in public administration from Penn State University. She is a White-Riley-Peterson Public Policy Fellow at Furman University.

Richard Salit

Senior Public Relations Officer
The Miriam Hospital, Newport Hospital, Gateway Healthcare