When Susan Burton’s 5-year-old son died in an
accident, the fragile life she had pieced together amid poverty and hardship disintegrated. Reeling from the loss, she tumbled into a downward spiral of drug addiction.

Fifteen years and six drug-related prison sentences later, Burton gained sobriety and founded a safe place for women in need. Since 1998, A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project (ANWOL) in Los Angeles has helped more than 900 formerly incarcerated women rebuild their lives.



More important, she has created a bridge to redemption, economic opportunity and political enfranchisement. A safe, sober-living home environment, ANWOL empowers formerly incarcerated women with leadership and skills development. Its ever-widening circle of services and allies is today a national model for breaking the cycle of recidivism and restoring the human dignity of each individual.

McKinney has served as communications counsel and strategist to Burton since 2010, when she was selected from thousands of nominees as one of CNN’s Top Heroes—an honor that recognizes “everyday people changing the world.” Our intensive strategic communications push garnered public attention and brought Burton and ANWOL a much-deserved national spotlight as a voice of re- entry and criminal justice reform.


Team McKinney continues to partner with Burton in her tireless work to transform the criminal justice system, providing strategic communications that advances the transformative justice movement.

We recently joined with ANWOL and The California Endowment to offer message training and leadership development to organizations working to implement Proposition 47, California’s newly adopted law that reduces nonviolent felony offenses to misdemeanors. The initiative also redirects the savings from reducing incarceration into drug treatment and mental health programs. McKinney delivered strategic communications messaging, and resources to raise awareness, spur action and generate wider community engagement.

McKinney also supports Burton’s public appearances on the national stage, engaging media, opinion leaders and policymakers.