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MAY 2022

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Damascus GENIUS TEAM co-designs reentry housing in Southwest Ohio

Damascus is a 501(c)(3) prison, reentry and staffing organization headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Your contribution is tax-deductible. It also changes the world.

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Damascus staff is joined by GENIUS TEAM members Lee Lindsey, and Aster and Ticia Brewer for a co-design session in Dayton, Ohio.

The Damascus GENIUS TEAM continues to lend their expertise to the Damascus processes and strategic plan. The current project: how to create reentry housing in Ohio that carries forward the mission and culture of Damascus and extends further the reentry continuum that is the Damascus Model?

The Damascus GENIUS TEAM is comprised of over 20 men and women who are graduates of the Damascus Reentry Course, a 10-week curriculum provided in various Ohio high-security institutions, as well as halfway houses. Now back in society (or transitioning home) the GENIUS TEAM stays connected to Damascus on various organizational and strategy-building projects. 

Damascus is currently teamed with Stanford University's design school to create a reentry housing facility and community in SW Ohio that provides a temporary and positive place to stay for high-security individuals moving from incarceration to society and who have fully completed their sentences. The GENIUS TEAM is an integral part of that design process, via zoom and in-person co-design sessions. By involving formerly incarcerated individuals in the design process, Damascus will produce a facility and environment that fosters the same principles the Damascus Reentry Class inspires inside the prison setting: community, accountability, unconventional expectations, and hope. 

"So many people need a positive next place to go," said Damascus grad and GENIUS TEAM member Raven Young. "Too many people leave prison with the choice of bad or worse."

GENIUS TEAM members are selected based on their willingness to pay forward what they've gained, as well as their passion for being part of the change for the individuals who come after them in the process. Some GENIUS TEAM members have been employed with Damascus employment partners; others have found different work, but want to stay plugged in to the creative expansion throughout Ohio. For the Damascus housing project, GENIUS TEAM members will continue to meet throughout 2022 to complete design work and open a facility.

"We need this," said GENIUS TEAM member Aster Brewer. "More people will stay out of prison, stay out of trouble, stay away from getting violated if they have somewhere to go where people care what happens next. I'll do whatever (Damascus) needs to do this."

Info about the longer range community, Damascus Village, is available here. To contribute to the design process or speak to someone about donating to the Damascus housing initiative, contact Damascus at 513.954.8941.


GENIUS TEAM members, Mike Abernathy and Vic Martin do design work with Damascus Reentry Coordinator, Kaitlin Rolli, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Aster Brewer, Ticia Brewer, and Lee Lindsey discuss the ways in which to create a peer-based accountability system in the Damascus housing community.

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Damascus worker, Tony Bridges, (left) is now a permanent Nissen employee.

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Damascus Client Rep, Brea Muzykoski, works closely with Nissen to provide Damascus workers that are a good fit for their organization.

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Damascus worker, Ryan Parker, adjusts his machine at Nissen.

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Nissen Chemitec and Damascus Partnership Continues to Thrive in London Ohio

When Damascus Client Rep Brea Muzykoski talks to the Damascus workers that she has placed at Nissen Chemitec, she can expect to hear a couple things consistently: the break room at Nissen is incredible and the company culture is a big part of the reason they can reenter the workplace with success.

"(Nissen) is really tuned into the lives of their workers," Brea said. "They make it easier for the workers to succeed."

Located in London, Ohio--thirty minutes west of Columbus--Nissen Chemitec North America produces high quality plastic injection molded parts for the automotive industry. Interested in expanding their workforce, Nissen began partnering with Damascus in 2020 and has made employment possible for over 100 individuals since that time. Human Resource professionals Peggy Willfong and Mike Buehrer have championed the effort and continue to make permanent employment for those returning home from incarceration a possibility in the region. They treat Damascus employees with the same level of potential and respect as their direct hire employees.

"We care about all our associates," said Mike. "We've been very transparent and there are no preconceived notions with anyone."

Among the workers that have converted to permanent Nissen employees, four of them have entered Nissen's Technical Training Program, where associates can increase their skill base and prepare for a career, not just a job. Among those workers is Ryan Parker, who also appears in the Nissen facebook promotion.

Mike and Peggy reiterated their goal to be an organization that provides both support and a pathway to men and women who work there. They mirror the Damascus mission to meet people where they are and walk alongside, even when things sometimes get sideways.

"We understand there are external forces that cause problems," Mike said. "One-off situations do occur. We know there are things employees cannot control, and we hold them accountable where we should."

That level of commitment creates a partnership where individuals returning from incarceration and into the workforce can learn, advance, work out the bugs and fears, and contribute to their communities and families. As Client Rep Brea Muzykoski knows, it makes all the difference when she is preparing Damascus workers for a job.

"(Nissen) has been great to work with," she said. "Whether it's working with people around personal time or the ebbs and flow of life or the halfway house, Peggy and Mike and the whole environment is very supportive of our workers."

More information about Nissen is available at

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Damascus is Expanding and Seeks Drivers!

As our employment partners increase and we provide more job opportunities outside major cities in Ohio, the need for reliable part-time and full-time drivers expands as well. Our current hiring need is the Columbus and Cincinnati regions.

Damascus drivers pick up individuals at halfway houses, sober living facilities, and other spots around the area and deliver them to the employment sites. There are positions available on all shifts and drivers earn between $18.00-$20.00/hour. No CDL license is required, as all vehicles are less than 15 passengers.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Transport Damascus workers to/from employment partners and other locations as assigned;
  • Maintain rider logs and route information.


  • Ability to pass a drug test;
  • Excellent driving record;
  • Ability to follow detailed instructions;
  • Excellent time management and reliability;
  • Strong personal skills and ability to work well with others;
  • Smart phone required to access GPS routing program.


  • Prior experience with the transportation environment is a plus.

Damascus drivers are an important part of the organization. We encourage retired law enforcement and correctional employees, as well as other professionals are encouraged to apply.

To apply, click here.


Damascus Spotlight: Kaitlin Rolli - Reentry Coordinator 

When Damascus Reentry Coordinator, Kaitlin Rolli, wanted to impact incarceration and reentry after graduating from Michigan State University, she found the mission that matched her goals--but it was in Ohio, not Michigan.

"I moved to Ohio for Damascus because I knew it was unlike any other efforts in the reentry world that I had seen in Michigan or even heard of," Kaitlin said. "Starting somewhere new with an organization tackling the obstacles of reentry from the inside out was exactly what I wanted to pursue."

Kaitlin joined Damascus in 2019 as the Reentry Coordinator, a role that includes preparing all the materials for the prison classes and coordinating/attending the prison graduations for the Damascus Reentry Classes throughout Ohio. Her favorite part of the role: being the first point of contact for Damascus Graduates when they return home from incarceration. 

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Damascus Graduation at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio


To date, there are nearly 500 Damascus Reentry Graduates; over 50% of them have returned home and most have contacted the Damascus office to seek employment or simply say hello. Kaitlin tracks the Graduates where possible, in order to foster research and remain connected with solutions.

When people contact the office, Kaitlin welcomes them home, discusses their situation and Life Plan with them, and connects them with the appropriate Damascus Facilitator and Client Rep if they are seeking employment.  Sometimes, Graduates call Damascus to simply hear Kaitlin's familiar and supportive voice. She is excited to continue to elevate the reentry solutions and produce change that is noticeable to both those returning home and society in general. In addition to her reentry coordination activities, Kaitlin is also part of the Stanford dschool Action Lab Team to design reentry housing. She is a vocal advocate of the Damascus mission and the potential.

"In the future, I hope Damascus is able to continue our curriculum in all prisons, in more than just Ohio," Kaitlin said. "I'm really proud of the heart and dedication that Damascus carries throughout its mission."

Click here to learn more about Damascus Correctional Programming

CEO Todd Marallen & CSO Christine Marallen

Mission and Vision

Our Mission

To be the standard bearer in unconventional, scalable and sustainable solutions in incarceration, reentry, and the workforce in order to elevate individuals, communities, corporations and the country.

Our Vision

To solve an expansive and expensive social problem and permanently change the narrative about incarceration and reentry in the United States.

Click Here to Learn More about Damascus
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Be Part of the Impact!

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