Our Team

Serving Alabama (Birmingham & Gadsden)

OAA Executive Staff

Birmingham, Alabama

Dena Dickerson

Chief Operating Officer

Director of Operations & Engagement

Dena is a positive example of successfulness after incarceration. Previously serving as a case manager for a men’s homeless shelter, she acquired greater insight for the need of assistance for former offenders. She believes that others, through their lived experiences, are uniquely purposed to provide support, assistance and encouragement to newly released offenders in becoming successful and productive citizens. Dena’s analogy of the role of OAA helping former offenders: It’s almost like coming to the edge of the forest and the person wants to come to the other side because everything is so beautiful…and they just can’t make that step…and you just reach your hand in and say “I got you..”

Contact: dena1oaa@gmail.com | 205-434-3423

Toni Barnett

Administrative Director

Director of Operations & Engagement

Toni joined OAA in September 2023, bringing a wealth of corporate knowledge to the nonprofit sector. As a person touched by TCJS, Toni understands the dilemma of the “System.” She believes her “lived experience” is the best experience to help the returning citizens successfully reenter society. She knows that developing strong personal and professional relationships is very important to this line of work. Outside of work, Toni is a mentor with Prison-to-Professional (P2P). She teaches a communications class and likes traveling and watching movies. Toni served 12 years in the US Naval Reserves and has her Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

Contact: tbarnett@offenderalumni.org 469-825-5951

OAA Birmingham

Birmingham, Alabama

Carmone Owens

VIPP Supervisor

Director of Operations & Engagement

The bio of Carmone Owens is a winding, twisting tale of overcoming a violent, substance-abusing childhood environment of poverty that entailed moving frequently from one bad neighborhood to another around the West side of Detroit and Highland Park, Michigan. With a mother suffering from substance abuse, who was physically there but AWOL at the same time, Carmone began to steal from stores at 8 years old to feed himself and his 4-year-old little brother. This began the criminal behavior of a poor child just doing what was needed to survive in a cold world. 

That winter, at 8 years old, with no food in the house and his little brother crying from hunger, he shoveled snow with an older kid who soon quit because it was too cold. A quick learner, Carmone went on by himself, wearing 3 pairs of pants, sweaters, and hoodies with 2 pairs of socks on his hands for mittens. Carmone made his first $100.00 on the streets. He went to the same stores he had stolen from, bought a few groceries, and went home excited and happy. Oblivious to the phenomenal achievement of her young child, his mother took all of his money and blew it getting high. This experience would shape Carmone’s belief system for the rest of his life about hustling, making money, having anything taken from him, and the confidence it took to make money for him and his brother to survive.

As Carmone got in trouble in Detroit, he was sent back to Syracuse and bounced back and forth between the two cities all of his childhood. Criminal behavior was just part of life in the hood and all that came with survival, with a little brother to look out for and a mother suffering from her trauma. Carmone grew up taking care of his mother and brother, LaMont, who would tragically be shot down in senseless street violence at 17 years old, which would also be a key turning point in Carmone’s life.

After a catastrophically bad divorce and a series of custody battles, Carmone relapsed into criminal thinking and moved down South. Carmone had been arrested numerous times but never had any felony convictions until moving to Alabama. Here, he was sentenced to eight 35-year sentences for convictions of Armed Robbery of businesses. This was the moment of destiny, where the true changes in thinking and character occurred.

The same judge that sent him to prison was pivotal to Carmone Owens’ release. In a motion on sentence reduction hearing, Judge Hardwick refused to do anything except not to protest Carmone when he came up for parole. The District Attorney agreed not to protest against him as well. A Special Review was soon ordered after that conducted by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. Years ahead of schedule, Carmone Owens was granted early release by Parole. He served 1 year for each of the 35-year sentences he had received, spending only 8 years incarcerated.

Truly a living miracle, the testimony was only beginning to take shape. The decision was made to move to Birmingham after prison to start over in life and establish new roots. Arriving in Birmingham in August 2015, Carmone joined the Offender Alumni Association (OAA) in October of that same year. Carmone immediately expressed his desire to become heavily involved in prison reentry. Deborah Daniels, one of the founders of OAA, requested and received special permission from the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections for Carmone Owens to be allowed to enter the St. Clair Maximum Security Facility, where he had done time after only being free for six months. This began the journey of teaching reentry, which turned into hosting NA/AA meetings and an empowerment class.

Carmone started his 501(c)3 non-profit organization, 2nd Chance Lifesavers, and began doing Participatory Defense, Parole Board advocacy, and Transitional Housing. Carmone helped six of the people he was closest to in prison by helping them make parole. They all were released to his Transition Center along with dozens of other violent offenders he helped transition. This turned into further efforts involving Juvenile Reentry, Parole Board Reform, Voter Rights Restoration, Youth Group Facilitation, and Mentoring.

Carmone was selected as Supervisor of the Hospital Linked Violence Intervention Program for OAA in 2022. He had previously been the Program Coordinator for Volunteers Behind the Fence doing reentry for OAA and the Lead Facilitator for the Youth Career Readiness Initiative for OAA. The Alabama Board of Paroles and Pardons chose to fully recognize and reward the changes that Carmone Owens made in his thinking, character, and life, as well as his labor in the trenches and on the front lines to help others like himself by granting him a Full Pardon and by restoring all of the rights that were lost upon conviction of the eight felonies of his cases in 2023. Carmone is still the Supervisor of the Violence Intervention and Prevention Partners Hospital Linked Violence Intervention Program for the Offender Alumni Association.

OAA NEW DESTINY

Gadsden, Alabama

FELECIA DIXON

Director of Operations & Engagement

Felecia is a justice-impacted person with experiences of recidivism and reentry. Battling with recovery and fore runner carrying this message to those next to pick up the baton and pass it on.

DEMETRUIS ENGLISH

Director of Operations & Engagement

I enjoy doing what I’m doing because it feels good to help someone on this journey called freedom! I believe in second chances, because I am a second chance recipient!