"Rebuilding the Lives of the Wrongfully Convicted"

Staff

The Life After Exoneration Program
760 Wildcat Canyon
Berkeley, California 94708
510.292.6010
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Heather Weigand, Director of New Programs and Services
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Heather Weigand serves as the Life After Exoneration Program’s Director of Client Services and New Programs. She began modeling policy and service provision in 2005 for the exonerated in the Western Region of the United States. Currently, her efforts are directed to developing and providing exemplary services to the exonerated in California and Texas. This includes delivery of a regional policy & service model that can be replicated in states with the highest population of exonerees. In conjunction with her co-director, she oversees the board building, development, fund raising, advocacy, public education and lobbying efforts for this unique grass roots organization. Heather incubated the very first “Council of the Wrongfully Convicted”, an exoneree-led council and leadership program and still acts as its primary advisor.

Heather works toward legislative reform and is helping to push several Senate Bills through California legislation with allied organizations. She encourages lawmakers in states that do not provide compensation to their wrongfully convicted - to enact compensation laws that provides for social services and compensation to exonerated persons.

Prior to joining the Life After Exoneration Program, Heather worked in the non-profit sector serving as clinical coordinator for one of California’s largest substance abuse programs. In that position, she worked with marginalized and at-risk individuals and supervised a team of 8 clinicians. In addition, she has 15 years of business and marketing experience. Heather obtained her B.A. with honors in Criminal Justice from San Francisco State University. She commits herself to help integrate and empower the formerly incarcerated through policy change, holistic programming and building human & social capital to those communities that remain in the margins. She has authored and facilitates a curriculum called “Recovery Development – Exploring Cognitive Change” that is targeted to people in recovery and those that have survived a prison experience. She is a motivational speaker for incarcerated people and speaks in the California Prison System.

Lola Vollen, M.D., MPH, Founder, Executive Director
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Lola Vollen is a physician specializing in helping communities that emerge in the aftermath of large-scale human rights abuses and social injustice. Her extensive international experience includes projects in Somalia, South Africa, Kosovo, Israel, Croatia and Bosnia where she has worked with hundreds of survivors of abuse. She has worked with over 100 exonerees and has served as an expert witness on the impact of  a wrongful conviction and incarceration on the life of an exoneree. 

As director of Physicians for Human Rights' Bosnia Projects from 1996 to 2000, Dr. Vollen worked with survivors of the 1995 ethnic cleansing of Srebrenica, developed and directed country-wide efforts to exhume mass graves and identify the remains of the victims, and coordinated psycho-social support services for families whose loved ones went missing during the war. Her work gave voice to the survivors of this atrocity and, by unearthing hundreds of mass graves to recover the remains of the victims, helped give this horrific past a visible public presence.

In 2001, Dr. Vollen organized an international conference on DNA Identification Technology and Human Rights. At that conference, she first learned of some of the DNA related issues that were unaddressed in this country. After attending an innocence conference in 2002, she learned that, like the families with missing from the fall of Srebrenica, the needs of the exonerated, who were struggling after their release, were not being addressed. She also recognized similarities between the exonerees and political asylum seekers and torture survivors. As a result, she founded the Life After Exoneration Program in 2002 to help the exonerated rebuild their lives.

With Dave Eggers and inspiration from Studs Terkel, she also began the Voice of Witness/VoiceBox Series in 2004, a new multimedia project to give voice to the victims of social injustice and human rights abuses through oral histories. The first in the series is "Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated" was published in 2005 and is the winner of the PASS Award for best non-fiction in 2005.  

Dr. Vollen has taught at U.C. Berkeley's Human Rights Center and Graduate School of Journalism, writes about public health and bioterrorism preparedness practices, and continues to practice clinical medicine.