Public Welfare Foundation Announces Two New Team Members

Esther Franco-Payne joins as VP of Programs, Thena Robinson Mock as Program Director.

Public Welfare Foundation Announces Two New Team Members

 Esther Franco-Payne         Thena Robinson Mock

Public Welfare Foundation today announced that Esther Franco-Payne and Thena Robinson Mock are joining its team to advance a transformative approach to justice that is community-led, restorative, and racially-just. They bring a strong history of advocating for justice and opportunity for people impacted by the youth and adult criminal justice systems, and a proven track record of driving transformative change.

Esther and Thena have dedicated their careers to advancing new, transformative visions of justice, and they are fierce advocates for underserved communities of color,” Public Welfare President and CEO Candice Jones said. “I am thrilled to have their expertise on the Public Welfare Foundation team as we work to realize justice that’s actually just.

Esther joins Public Welfare as Vice President of Programs and is the immediate past Executive Director of Chicago’s Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA), where she led the organization’s strategy, management, and fundraising, doubling its budget, increasing staff capacity and expanding its service offerings. Through her work with CGLA, Esther has amplified CGLA’s impact throughout Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois. Franco-Payne is a ten-year member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission and was recently appointed co-chair of the Families Committee in support of the Department of Juvenile Justice’s Advancing Transformation Task Force.

Thena joins Public Welfare as Program Director from Communities for Just Schools Fund, a national donor collaborative, where she served as Program Officer and managed a grants portfolio of grassroots community organizations leading local and national efforts for education justice and an end to the criminalization of Black and Brown youth in schools and communities. Thena is currently an adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, teaching Education Justice & Civil Rights Seminar, a course that explores racial justice issues in public education and the criminal legal system.

Esther and Thena will drive and support implementation of the adult criminal and youth justice grantmaking strategies, support grantees, and provide strategic assistance to the field.