KRA Monthly Spotlight!

This month’s Spotlight! cannot shine brightly enough on KRA Career Agent LeRoi Mason, who began working for the KRA/RESOURCE Workforce Centers (KRA/RWC) operation on March 1, 2011, as the coordinator of a new KRA/RWC-initiated ex-offender/re-entry program called Returning Citizens. Educationally, Mr. Mason has three AA degrees in Liberal Arts, Business Administration, and Computer Science Technology; a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration; and a Master’s Degree in Psychological and Religious Counseling. In addition, he is a Dale Carnegie graduate, a multiple national award-winning officer of the U.S. Jaycees, a recipient of an ACLU Man of the Year Award, and an 18-year member and former President of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 682. Vocationally, Mr. Mason has Journeyman-level certification as an arc/gas welder, radio/TV and electronics repairperson, and computer compositor, and has traveled the U.S working as a musician and radio announcer. Additional workplace skills include teaching, therapeutic program development, and family/individual cross-cultural counseling. One would have to agree that this 72-year old grandfather of four is a remarkable individual with incredible accomplishments. What is even more remarkable and incredible is that Mr. Mason achieved most of these accomplishments between 1974 and 2011…while incarcerated for 37 years at the Powhatan Correctional Center, a facility of the Virginia Prison System.

 Gary Fletcher, KRA/RWC Program Manager, said of Mr. Mason, “In the last 6 months, he has been visiting correctional institutions, delivering a message of hope to inmates that positive things can happen after incarceration…and after release.  He also speaks on subjects about what transition means and how to successfully achieve it.  After spending almost half his life in prison, Mr. Mason is more than qualified to speak on what it takes to overcome the obstacles that ex-offenders face when re-entering the community.  Here in the Greater Richmond area that we serve, he works with ex-offenders through our Returning Citizens program to facilitate their transition, and to give them the employment assistance and resources they require.”

Due to his sensational community reentry efforts since his release, Mr. Mason has received an outpouring of recognition for his accomplishments on behalf of KRA/RWC. One result is that he was selected to deliver the commencement address at the Greenville Correctional Center on October 7, 2011. Annually, the Department of Correctional Education (DCE) conducts graduation ceremonies throughout Virginia to award Certificates of Accomplishment to prisoners who have successfully completed programs in the field of education, technical training, etc.  Mr. Mason spoke to more than 400 graduating prisoners, their families, and DCE staff and administrative leaders. Through the KRA/RCW Returning Citizens program, Mr. Mason’s message is clear to those prisoners in transition, community leaders, and businesses throughout the region, that “Returning Citizens” deserve a chance to be productive citizens and responsible family members again.

 Mr. Mason delivered a stirring graduation speech, stressing the need for the kind of commitment, determination, and faith that saw him through the most difficult of times. He thanked all those administrators, teachers, and aides who helped him stay focused on his goals, and gave special thanks to Marilyn Stroud, Adult and Dislocated Worker Program Manager, RESOURCE Capital Region Workforce Partnership, and Mr. Fletcher for taking a chance on him to lead the Returning Citizens program. In his speech, he said “Education became my shield against failure and my motivation for staying the course. As the years passed, I struggled day-to-day against the temptation of giving up. But given my hunger for freedom with my family, there was always that little mental note that popped up…just as I was about to cave into the wee hours of loneliness…the voice of freedom always called out: if you want me, don’t quit…get a book, get a book.”