William M. Evans
Founder & President
Residing in the South Bronx, William lived through traumatic experiences as a youth and adult. From losing his mother at the age of 9, having to leave his grandmother home at the age of 15 shortly after his first arrest while returning to the supermarket to pack bags (due to NYCHA's Permanent Exclusions for Criminal Conduct written into the lease agreement), surviving a gunshot wound to the neck at 16, and spending 11 months and 4 days on Rikers Island from 2009 to 2010 before being acquitted and returning to his family, friends and community.
William explains how much of his personal experiences led him into a career of counseling. After about 6 years of combined experiences as an Alternative to Incarceration Counselor and overseeing a team of Discharge Planners stationed on Rikers Island, he resigned from his job with a plan to locate more people willing to act as leaders and find solutions for improving communities across New York City. William advocated for fairness, transparency, and efficiency in various neighborhoods, but wanted to do more. William understood, to push reforms that protect the public and improve the justice system, the increasing of senseless violence also had to be addressed. William embraced what he learned about restorative practices and wanted to do more. His strengths for organizing and building alliances with people returned him to his community, where it all started.
Understanding the culture of his “hood,” William could easily identify individuals that contributed to the destruction of community or steered others in the wrong direction. These people looked up to him. William believed that by returning with a specific plan to recruit individuals in the “hood,” helping then understand the need for change, as well as the role they could play in inspiring others to follow them in finding and implementing solutions, great changes would come. He knew these extraordinary individuals had a tremendous impact on how youth live today, on how their society functions, and on what values young people hold. They were the leaders who “made a difference,” and he wanted to recruit them to create long-lasting changes that improved the quality of life in some way. William figured a good strategy would be an effective alignment between benches in the courts and benches in the “hood,” focusing on systematic changes. This strategy would start by assessing what courts do, and what society needs courts to do, while simultaneously addressing gang behaviors on neighborhood benches.
Today, William completed trainings and holds over 20 certificates, a Bachelor's of Arts degree from The College of New Rochelle, Master's of Science degree in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham University, Public Allies Alumni, Public Allies NY Advisory Board Member, Community Expert, Co-Founder of Never Be Caged, Founder & President at Neighborhood Benches where he promotes leadership and positive community changes. William is also a 2019 Echoing Green Fellow and PhD candidate.