Our Founder

Edwin Ellis (1941 – 2014)

As for me, I start from the proposition that no matter how bad things get, they can improve. The question is: How soon and to what extent? My job is to develop the next generation of leaders, who will make tomorrow better than today for the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated, and everyone connected to that community of human beings.
— Eddie Ellis


Edwin (Eddie) Ellis was the founder and president of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions, an independent research, training and advocacy think tank that applies Human Justice to achieve public safety, racial equity, community investment, human development and well-being in society. Founded and developed by academic professionals with prior experience within the criminal punishment system, the organization is the first of its kind in the country.

Under his leadership, the Center developed several innovative projects, including: Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives (IJJRA), NuLeadership Training Institute, Public Health Policy Project, NuUrban Marshall Plan, Full Employment Opportunities Campaign, Criminal Justice Practitioner Training Program, and Project ReNu.

In the 1990’s he served on the Drug Policy Task Force of the New York County Trial Lawyers Association, and the National Criminal Justice Commission, Washington, D.C., where he helped author, “The Real War on Crime.” He was the host and executive producer of “On the Count: The Prison and Criminal Justice Report,” a weekly public affairs program broadcast over Radio Station WBAI (99.5 FM) in New York City.

Mr. Ellis lectured extensively and visited prisons in the United States, England, Scotland, Belgium, the Caribbean and South Africa. In 2006, he served on New York Governor–elect Eliot Spitzer’s Transition Team. He was a consultant on justice policy issues for the Domestic Policy Advisor to President George W. Bush, as well as with the Vera Institute of Justice, Council of State Governments, National Black Caucus of State Legislators, New York State Black, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Legislative Caucus and the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute Criminal Justice Initiative. He authored research and public policy briefing papers for corrections, parole and probation officials and legislators in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Washington DC.

Mr. Ellis, a former Black Panther Party leader, served 25 years (1969-1994) in prison based on COINTELPRO targeting for a crime he did not commit. In prison, however, he acquired a Masters Degree, summa cum laude, from New York Theological Seminary; a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, magna cum laude, from Marist College; an Associate’s Degree in Para Legal Studies from Sullivan County Community College; and an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from the State University of New York (SUNY).


CNUS Board

Joseph Coello, Board Chair
President, New York State Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, Inc.

Charles Thornton, Vice Chair
DC Office on Human Rights, Special assistant
Corrections Information Council board chair

Leonard Dunston, Secretary
Vice President of Preudhomme, Dunston and Associates

Brickelle Quarles, Treasurer
Clinical Supervisor, Robert N. Davoren Center (RNDC) /Riker’s Island Correctional Facility Mental Health Clinic

Michael Pratts, Member
Medical Director, Cayuga County Community Mental Health Center

Anthony Wiley, Member
Professor, Haverford College