Sept. 21, 2023 By Bill Parry
The man who joked that he went from the big house to the White House when he was honored as a 2014 Champion for Change by President Barack Obama is taking over the leadership of The Fortune Society, the Long Island City-based nonprofit that helps the formerly incarcerated reenter society.
Deputy CEO Stanley Richards, 62, will serve as the organization’s next president and CEO on Jan. 1, succeeding JoAnne Page who led The Fortune Society for 34 years before announcing her retirement earlier this month.
Having begun his professional career with Fortune more than 30 years ago, Richards brings a unique perspective to his new leadership role as a formerly incarcerated man of color, who has dedicated his life to criminal justice reform and reentry initiatives. Richards is also the first formerly incarcerated person to serve as the first deputy commissioner of the NYC Department of Correction.
“When I think about my life and career, it’s hard to imagine what both would have looked like had I not connected with The Fortune Society, my first job out of the prison system,” Richards said. “I am humbled and honored to lead an organization that has been a source of opportunities for me and countless others who have sought second chances. This moment would not be possible without the support, encouragement and steadfast love of my wife of 33 years, Satara Richards, and our four children, Stanley Jr. Nyika, Kimberly and Marquis. Their unwavering love, support, encouragement and sacrifice fill me with hope, and strength to fight the good fight and to share the love in my heart with the people and communities Fortune serves.”
Page knows she is leaving the organization in good hands.
“As I look ahead to Fortune’s future, I know we are headed in the right direction. I could not imagine a better person to step into this role than Stanley Richards,” Page said. “I had the privilege of hiring Stanley over 30 years ago when he came to us for his first job out of prison, as so many people have done. Starting as a counselor, and working under our beloved Nancy Lopez, he quickly grew in the organization and had a succession of promotions. While Stanley left Fortune on two occasions, first to help run the Health Link program for Hunter College and, more recently, to take the job of first deputy commissioner for the New York City Department of Correction — a historic first for a formerly incarcerated person —he has always stayed connected with Fortune and supported our work. Stanley truly is Fortune’s mission embodied. He is a tireless criminal justice advocate who approaches each task with compassion and strength, and is a shining example that new beginnings are possible—and can be quite beautiful.”
The Fortune Society was founded in 1967 by David Rothenberg.
“Stanley Richards’ journey has been a heroic one,” Rothenberg said. “When he assumes leadership of The Fortune Society, he brings history and courage. His presence not only enhances The Fortune Society, but his story tells thousands in our city that no one is to be counted out. If you are looking for a modern Horatio Alger tale, you can begin at Stanley’s doorstep.”
Richards added, “I am enormously grateful to JoAnne Page, who has been a friend and mentor, to our founder, David Rothenberg who, when Fortune started, said ‘Fortune was founded at a time that people didn’t have to apologize for caring about others’, and to the Fortune Board who, since Fortune’s founding days, have grown the organization that has paved the way for tens of thousands of people to create positive change in their lives. My journey and this moment in Fortune’s history was made possible because people believe that second chances and redemption are more than slogans.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz praised Richards’ appointment.
“The Fortune Society is a vital partner in my office’s mission to keep Queens safe while championing reforms in the criminal justice system. Outgoing President and CEO JoAnne Page played an integral role in assisting this endeavor while serving on the transition committee of my administration in 2020. I wish her well after 34 years of dedicated public service,” Katz said. “The Fortune Society is in good hands with Stanley Richards at the helm. I look forward to continuing our partnership to strengthen alternatives to incarceration and empower our communities.”
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams applauded the leadership change.
“The Fortune Society is a vital organization that supports New Yorkers returning from incarceration and strengthens our communities through critical programs and services,” Adams said. “I thank JoAnne Page for her decades of leadership, hard work, and vision, and I congratulate Stanley Richards on his appointment as President and CEO. Stanley’s direct experience in the justice system and years of leadership are vital, and I look forward to continuing to work with the entire team at The Fortune Society to help rebuild lives.”
Since returning to Fortune from the Department of Correction, Richards played a critical role in Fortune’s continued growth. In fiscal years 2022 through 2024, Fortune grew significantly and added supervised release in the Bronx and transitional housing in four of the five boroughs, providing community diversion services from arraignment and badly needed housing for homeless formerly incarcerated people.
Fortune grew from a $42,000,000 organization to a $66,000,000 organization; this growth included adding staffing that allowed Fortune to serve more than 11,000 people in fiscal year 2023.
“Throughout Fortune’s history we have had so many partners and sister organizations that leaned into the struggle to create a truly humane, fair, smaller and just system,” Richards said. “Our sister organizations and government partners all contributed to this moment, and the goal ahead is clear and non-negotiable. I look forward to building on that partnership and leveraging Fortune’s deep and unwavering commitment to decarcerate, to improve conditions of our jails and prisons, to eliminate the barriers to reentry and to mitigate the lifetime collateral consequences of a conviction.”