Vera Names Damien Dwin, Co-Founder & CEO of Brightwood Capital, as Chair of Board of Trustees

NEW YORK, NY – This week, the Vera Institute of Justice’s board of trustees elected Damien Dwin, co-founder and CEO of Brightwood Capital, as its new chair. Beginning his tenure during a critical election year, Dwin will lead the 18 current trustees devoted to Vera’s mission to drive change, build, and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities. Under his leadership, Vera will continue its powerful history of working with government, advocacy, and community members and ensure that the urgency of radically reimagining the American justice system remains at the forefront of the national conversation.

“I am thrilled to co-pilot Vera with Damien at a time of unprecedented and widespread calls for our nation to end its decades-long experiment in harsh punishment, racial injustice, and unfair practices that make all of us less safe,'' said Nicholas Turner, Vera’s president and executive director. “He brings a business perspective and deep personal investment in remedying the ways the justice system has squandered the potential of entire families and communities, and a commitment to working with me to ensure that Vera is maximizing its impact – because he understands that real lives depend on it”.

Dwin will offer his decades of experience in both business and philanthropy to a range of Vera’s priority issues, from essential and progressive reform of the policing, bail and prosecution practices that force people – primarily people of color, the poor and those with mental illness – into jails without making communities safer; to radically transforming life behind bars, to ending the ban of Pell grants for people in prison, to providing universal representation to immigrants facing deportation. As we enter a new decade, Dwin will also oversee the next phase of Vera’s strategic planning and help further our commitment to dismantling racism both within our institution and the wider community.

“Investigating solutions to structural flaws in our criminal justice system is complex work relevant to all of society, including the business community, where I have spent my career financing America’s leading job creators,'' said Damien Dwin. “This movement is personal considering the childhood I experienced in Washington, DC, where my family enjoyed the American dream while also feeling the sharp pain of racism, neglect, mental illness and substance abuse—ailments rife throughout our prisons and jails. Louis Schweitzer and Herb Sturz started Vera in 1961 with a very simple idea—injustice towards our poor and vulnerable demeans society itself. It is my great privilege to serve as chair and further address this original challenge almost 60 years later.”

Now with offices in four major cities and projects in more than 40 states, Vera offers a unique combination of wide-ranging expertise, national reach, and capacity to create breakthrough ideas and implement solutions at scale to transform lives and strengthen communities.

“I’m delighted to be passing the Vera Board leadership baton to Damien,” said John Savarese. “Today, Vera is stronger financially than ever before – its voice reaches farther, and its strategic mission, under Nick’s guidance, is sharper than ever. It is a perfect time to bring Damien’s sharp and energetic intellect, passion for justice, extraordinary energy, and forward-looking imagination to the board to help carry Vera even further forward. I look forward to watching the great things I know will happen under his leadership and that of our fantastic board of trustees and the amazing Vera staff.”

Dwin is Vera’s fifth chair and first person of color to lead the board in Vera’s almost six-decade history and will serve a two-year renewable term. He joined Vera’s board in October 2019 following an introduction from Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, and a recruitment process guided by Governance Committee Chair and Head of Government Affairs at MUFG Bank, Roger Blissett.

“Throughout his career, Damien has demonstrated the bold perspective and strategic thinking necessary to tackle monumental challenge,'' said Darren Walker. “At a time when America has come to a collective diagnosis that our current, punitive model of justice must end, there’s no better person to work with Nick to help shepherd Vera’s ambitious and compelling vision of a system that values the human dignity of all people.”

“I’m excited for Damien to take over the Chairmanship of Vera and continue the momentum from John’s extraordinary tenure,” added Roger Blissett. “Damien has profound respect for the history of Vera. He is thrilled to lead and partner with the Board and work with Nick to realize the vision and next chapter in the organization’s proud legacy.”

About Damien Dwin

Damien Dwin is co-CEO and co-Founder of Brightwood Capital Advisors, LLC – a leading alternative asset manager providing debt capital to family, founder and entrepreneur owned businesses in the US middle market – and has been involved in all phases of the firm’s development since its founding in 2010. He also serves on philanthropic boards for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and The Studio Museum in Harlem, and is a Trustee of The Boys’ Club of New York and Woodberry Forest School in Virginia. Under Dwin’s leadership, Brightwood has invested over $7 billion in 150 companies. He currently participates on the boards of many portfolio companies and has managed capital for hundreds of limited partners, including many prominent public, private and corporate pension plans, insurance companies and endowments. Prior to founding Brightwood, Dwin worked at Credit Suisse from 2004 to 2010 and Goldman Sachs in New York and London from 1998 to 2004. He holds a B.S/B.A. from Georgetown University.

About the Vera Institute of Justice

The Vera Institute of Justice is a justice reform change agent. Vera produces ideas, analysis, and research that inspire change in the systems people rely upon for safety and justice. Vera collaborates with the communities most impacted by these systems and works in close partnership with government and civic leaders to implement change. Across projects, Vera is committed to explicitly and effectively reducing the burdens of the justice system on people of color and frames all work with an understanding of our country’s history of racial oppression. Vera is currently pursuing core priorities of ending the misuse of jails, transforming conditions of confinement, providing legal services for immigrants, and ensuring that justice systems more effectively serve America’s increasingly diverse communities. Vera has offices in Brooklyn, NY; Washington, DC; New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

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