President Wilson introduces Joel Friesz as Executive Director

Jan. 31, 2022

Dear NACRJ Members,

Last year when National Association of Community and Restorative Justice (NACRJ) founding Executive Director Michael Gilbert announced his retirement, the NACRJ Board quickly began a national search for the next Executive Director. While Mike has generously given his time as a contractor all these years, we are thrilled to now be able to install the first official employee of the organization. This is truly a momentous achievement as we have generated the funding and infrastructure necessary to support this position.

It gives me great joy to announce Joel Friesz as the next Executive Director of NACRJ. Joel is no stranger to the association, as he has been a Board member for several years and, up until his hire, has tirelessly served on the NACRJ Board as Treasurer since 2017. In addition, Joel has had a long history as a restorative justice practitioner, trainer and educator in North Dakota and throughout the Midwest. To learn more about Joel and his work in the field, please click here.

As I mentioned, we are making history at NACRJ. This feat could not have been accomplished without the hard work and support of our Board, and especially the hiring committee: chair Teiahsha Bankhead, Mara Schiff and myself. There is more to come as we will continue to expand both our Board and our NACRJ staff this year, so stay tuned for more great changes.

When you get time, please reach out to Joel to congratulate him. If you haven’t met him yet, I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing about his enthusiasm for the work and for the association. His warm demeanor and welcoming spirit is infectious. Otherwise, you can meet him at the upcoming NACRJ conference in Chicago.

I am grateful for all the ways we are growing as an organization, and I ask each of you to stay connected and be well until we see each other (virtually or in person), again.

Until then, please take good care of yourselves and your communities.


Sheryl R. Wilson

Sheryl R. Wilson, NACRJ President